The following is from the January 28, 2010 DOL News Brief:
US Department of Labor Leading the Way in Open Government Efforts
DOL has exceeded the early benchmarks set forth in the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive — releasing twice the required number of newly available datasets on data.gov last Friday and launching its own open government information page (www.dol.gov/open) more than two weeks ahead of schedule. The datasets released last week include information from the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which will make it possible for anyone in the public to better track health and safety conditions in the American workplace. In addition to the information featured on data.gov, the Department also released additional data for the first time — including the Form 5500 annual report/returns for approximately 800,000 retirement, health and other employee benefit plans covering the plan years 1999 through 2008. The administration’s Open Government Directive established a new standard for government agencies, insisting that by specific dates they achieve key milestones in transparency, collaboration and participation.
Superior Super Warehouse to Pay for Child Labor Violations The Department’s Wage and Hour Division has ordered Super Center Concepts, doing business as Superior Super Warehouse, to pay $79,200 in penalties for violating child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. DOL investigators found a total of 40 hazardous occupational violations, including allowing minors to operate scrap paper balers, paper box compactors and power-driven hoisting apparatuses or forklifts.
MSHA Cracks Down on Kentucky Scofflaw Operators The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration continues to crack down on mine operators that fail to pay their civil penalties. The most recent scofflaws sued by MSHA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are three coal mines located in Knott County, Ky. These operators have wracked up nearly $665,000 in delinquent penalties. According to MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main, “There is no excuse for mine operators to deliberately flout their obligations to pay civil penalties for safety and health violations. MSHA and the Department of Labor will not hesitate to hold scofflaw operators accountable.”
Cool Heads Under Fire Not all mining mishaps end on a tragic note. Take the fire that occurred at a Missouri lead-zinc mine last Thursday. Three miners working underground at Doe Run Co’s Vibernum #29 mine in Bunker were trapped when their escape route became blocked by a burning haulage truck. Cool heads prevailed, and the miners retreated to a designated refuge chamber stocked with water and compressed air. Meanwhile, mine rescue teams spent the next several hours attempting to locate the men. Ultimately, they were rescued and safely returned to the surface. “It was the type of outcome we all strive for in a mining emergency,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
OSHA Proposes Rule Change to MSD DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposes to revise its Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting (recordkeeping) regulation by restoring a column on the OSHA Form 300 to better identify work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The rule does not change existing requirements for when and under what circumstances employers must record musculoskeletal disorders on their injury and illness logs; it would require employers to place a check mark in a column for all MSDs they have recorded.
128 Violations = $683K in Proposed Fines for Mississippi Companies Three Mueller Industries Inc. subsidiaries in Fulton, Miss., were cited with 128 violations and fined $683,000 for exposing workers to a variety of safety and health hazards. In July 2009, the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began an investigation after a maintenance worker was killed, and two other workers were injured when naphtha, a flammable liquid of hydrocarbon mixtures, leaked from an electric pump and ignited.