Safety Lines

The Newsletter of Minnesota OSHA
Number 38 Winter 2003

Governor withdraws proposal to return MNOSHA to feds
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced in early March that he is withdrawing his budget proposal to return the state's OSHA program back to the federal government. The decision was made due to the many uncertainties around the budget proposal, including questions about the federal government's commitment to OSHA funding. The governor proposed that DLI convene a task force this summer to study state and federal OSHA plans, their funding sources, and workplace fatality and injury data. The task force would be made up of members of labor, industry and other stakeholders.

The budget change means the state would continue to fund the OSHA program at its current level. For more information about the how the governor's proposed budget affects the Department of Labor and Industry, visit

DLI Legislative Liaison Grace Schwab, Acting Assistant Commissioner Phil Moosbrugger and former Minnesota OSHA Director Darrell Anderson (far left) were part of the packed Senate committee hearing March 7, that included discussion about the governor’s budget proposal for OSHA.

Meet Robin Kelleher, DLI’s acting commissioner
Recently appointed as the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) Deputy Commissioner, Robin Kelleher has now agreed to become DLI’s acting commissioner, due to the departure of Jane Volz. Kelleher joined DLI after working as an attorney with Seaton, Beck, Peters, Bowen & Feuss, P.A., a labor and employment law firm. Governor Tim Pawlenty asked for and accepted Volz’s resignation a week after Volz disclosed she unknowingly failed to purchase workers’compensation coverage for the employees at the law firm she owned, prior to joining DLI in January. Learn more about Kelleher at
DLI Acting Commissioner Robin Kelleher

MNOSHA adopts two federal standards
• signs, signals, barricades; • exit routes, emergency action and fire prevention plans
By Shelly Techar, Management Analyst

The final federal OSHArule for signs, signals and barricades, published in September, became effective at the federal level Dec. 11, 2002. The rule was adopted by Minnesota OSHA and became effective in Minnesota on March 10, 2003. The standard is expected to reduce fatalities and injuries at roadway worksites by requiring: • retro-reflective and illuminated devices at intermediate and long-term stationary temporary traffic control zones; • warning devices for mobile operations at speeds above 20 mph; • advance warning signs for certain closed paved shoulders; • a transition area containing a merging taper when one lane is closed on a multi lane road; • temporary traffic control devices with traffic barriers that are immediately adjacent to an open lane; and • temporary traffic barriers separating opposing traffic on a two-way roadway. In November, federal OSHA published its final rule for exit routes, emergency action plans and fire prevention plans, and the rule became effective at the federal level Dec. 7, 2002. The rule was adopted by MNOSHA and became effective in Minnesota on March 10, 2003. The requirements for exit routes have been rewritten in simple, easy-to-understand terms. The text has been reorganized, and inconsistencies and duplicative requirements have been removed. OSHA now allows employers that comply with the National Fire Protection Associations’ (NFPA-2000) Life Safety Code, instead of the OSHA standard, will be in compliance with the OSHA standard. OSHA evaluated the NFPA standard and concluded it provides comparable safety. The revised standard, which offers more compliance options for employers, does not change the regulatory obligations of the employer or the safety and health protections provided to the employees of the original standard.

The revised standard, which offers more compliance options for employers ...

Safety Lines is a free quarterly publication of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Its purpose is to promote occupational safety and health and to inform readers of the purpose, plans and progress of MNOSHA. Questions, comments and story submissions are welcome. News material may be reproduced provided the department is contacted and credited. Send comments, submissions and subscription requests to: Jenny O’Brien, editor, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, 443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155; phone (651) 284-5261; e-mail This material can be provided in different formats, such as Braille, large print or audiotape, by calling Minnesota OSHA at (651) 284-5050 or (651) 297-4198/TTY. Safety Lines 2 Winter 2003

Carbon monoxide detectors a smart investment
By Diane Amell, Training Officer

Minnesota OSHA Compliance purchased a carbon monoxide (CO) gas detector for each safety investigator last fall. Since obtaining the detectors, MNOSHA safety investigators have discovered at least five instances where malfunctioning equipment was creating hazardous levels of CO in the air in Minnesota workplaces. The five cases are described below.
Case one: Space heater

An investigator was performing an inspection at a wood-products manufacturer when the CO-detector alarm sounded. The detector indicated a level of 66 parts per million (ppm). Because a propane-powered forklift had just driven past the inspection party, it was initially assumed to be the source. Further investigation determined a ceiling-mounted, natural-gas-fired, forced-air heater caused the elevated level, and the employer immediately shut it down.
Case two: Parts washer

While on an inspection of an engine-repair shop, an investigator measured a CO concentration of 51 ppm. The source was later determined to be a faulty burner on a hot-water parts-washer.
Case three: Bakery

At a bakery, an employee was firing-up the first of four ovens for the day, just as the walkaround portion of the MNOSHA inspection was beginning. The alarm on the investigator’s CO-detector sounded, and levels quickly climbed to more than 300 ppm. The investigator quickly had the employer evacuate the facility and open the building up to allow fresh air to enter. After the levels dropped, the employees re-entered the building and the inspection continued. It was discovered that an auxiliary exhaust-fan, installed to remove excess heat and smoke from the oven area, was not turned on. While the oven itself was vented to the outside, it was not enough to maintain safe air-levels of carbon monoxide in the work area. The employer had the oven serviced and is currently researching possible improvements to the overall ventilation system.
Case four: Welding operation

A metal-fabrication shop had a small TIG/MIG welding operation in a separate enclosed room. A small exhaust-fan connected to flexible duct above the work area provided some localized ventilation. There was no provision for makeup air, however. This resulted in the air flowing through a gas-fired heater, mounted overhead, and then into the rest of the room. During the inspection, the concentration of CO in the room was more than 68 ppm. The employer immediately made a service call to have the heat exchanger in the heater checked for leaks, and installed a CO monitor in the room. The company is also investigating possible improvements to the welding exhaust-system.
Case five: Forklift

An investigator was conducting an inspection at a wooden-pallet manufacturer. During the walkaround portion of the inspection, the investigator’s CO-detector alarm sounded. The meter showed a CO reading of more than 80 ppm and the investigator requested that the doors be opened and the propane-powered forklift be shut down. The employer complied, even though the forklift had just been serviced the previous day. After the doors opened and the forklift was turned off, the CO levels dropped dramatically. When the doors were then closed and the forklift was restarted, the CO concentration began to climb once again. It was discovered the ventilation system for that area of the production floor had never been turned on that morning. The worker, who normally started the ventilation system at the beginning of the day, had called in sick and no one else had thought to turn the system on.
CO continues next page ...
Safety Lines 3 Winter 2003

Where’s your waste? Get solutions this summer
Is your company being driven to become lean and cut waste? Not enough time for problem solving? Let the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) offer you an extra staff person through its student intern program. If you have sources of waste in your facility, MnTAP can help you find solutions this summer – at no cost to your company. MnTAP hires and pays college juniors or seniors, majoring in science or engineering, to work on finding solutions to inefficiencies and waste issues. An intern can help improve your use of raw materials, investigate new technology, reduce waste and save you money this summer. Seven Minnesota companies in summer 2002 gained a no-cost staff person through the MnTAP intern program to solve a waste-related problem. These companies have saved $406,000 by reducing 152,000 pounds of waste and 5.7 million gallons of water. Technical Plating, Brooklyn Park, Minn., saved $44,000 in sewer access charges (SAC) after its MnTAP intern helped reduce water use. Using the research of a MnTAP intern, K-Bar Industries, Faribault, Minn., saves $38,000 annually by decreasing the number of parts that need paint stripping. MnTAP is a state-funded, nonregulatory program at the University of Minnesota that helps businesses reduce and manage industrial waste. If you would like a MnTAP intern to solve waste-related problems, call Intern Coordinator Deb McKinley at (612) 624-4697 or 1-800-247-0015. Projects start in mid-May; applications are accepted until the program is full. Further information is available online at

CO continued ...

When the ventilation was working, the CO level dropped to an acceptable level, even with the forklift in operation. In several of these cases, the employer expressed appreciation to the investigator for pointing out this unseen danger to their employees. MNOSHA has developed a fact sheet that describes methods for measuring carbon monoxide levels in air, and lists the state CO monitoring requirements and permissible exposure limits. This fact sheet is available on the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Web site, at or by calling any MNOSHA area office.
Safety Lines 4 Winter 2003

Dangers of abandoned mines stressed by mine-safety group
By Diane Amell, Training Officer

From the open pit and underground mines on the Iron Range, to the granite pits in the greater St. Cloud area, to the sand and gravel pit operations throughout much of the state, mining has long been an important industry in Minnesota. Mines and mining operations pose many potential safety and health hazards. While these hazards end for the workers after the mine is closed, abandoned mines can still be a dangerous place for the public, especially children. It is estimated that, since 1999, more than 100 people have died nationwide in recreational accidents at active and abandoned mine sites. To warn the public of these hazards and discourage trespassing onto abandoned mine sites, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has created a “Stay Out – Stay Alive” campaign. Targeted at children and adults, the program uses a variety of tools, including school presentations, posters and its Web site – at – to educate people about the risks of entering sites and using them for play or recreation purposes. The hazards include: • falls down vertical shafts, which can be hundreds of feet deep. The openings of these shafts are sometimes hidden by vegetation or rotting boards. • risk of cave-in of horizontal shafts and openings from rotting timbers or unstable rock formations. • hazardous atmospheres in underground passages, which can contain dangerous levels of methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, an insufficient amount of oxygen, or both. • unused or misfired explosives. • unstable excavated vertical cliffs, which are susceptible to collapse. • hills of loose materials in stockpiles or refuse heaps, which can suddenly cave in on a person. • water in quarries and pits. Swimming in these quarries can be dangerous, due to hazards including hidden obstacles, such as rock ledges and old machinery, dangerously cold water, deceptive depths and steep, slippery walls, which can make exit from these pools extremely difficult. Minnesota Statutes §180.03 requires, if mining operations are ceased for a period of six months or longer, that the employer install and maintain fencing around the perimeter of any mine excavation, open pit or shaft to reduce the probability of accidental falls into the mine. This requirement does not apply to sand, crushed rock and gravel mining, however. The “Stay Out – Stay Alive” Web page features a fact sheet about the risks of abandoned mines, a list of recreational fatalities in mining areas from 1999 to the present, posters and links to other related sites. MSHA also hosts a Web page for children, that contains more information about mine safety; the “MSHA’s Kids Page” can be accessed directly at For more information about the “Stay Out – Stay Alive” mine hazard awareness campaign, contact Barry Lesar, St. Louis County [Minnesota] mine inspector, by phone at (218) 742-9840 or by e-mail at For information about employee mine-safety, contact the MSHA Duluth area office at (218) 720-5448. Please note: MNOSHA does not have jurisdiction in mining operations.
Safety Lines 5 Winter 2003

Safety: It’s what’s for breakfast
Start your day with a breakfast buffet ... and safety training! Minnesota OSHA's Construction Breakfasts begin with a buffet breakfast and feature a presentation about a specific construction safety topic. Although, in years past, the program was only offered on-site at the Department of Labor and Industry in St. Paul, four sites in outstate Minnesota will now host the events as well.
• Outstate Minnesota

The topics for the outstate breakfasts are the same at each location: scaffolding and an overview of OSHA. The presentations will be led by Todd Haglin and John Gaddini of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC). Cost of the breakfast and discussion is $10, payable at the door; however, advance registration is suggested. – April 1: North Mankato, South Central Technical College To register, contact Tom Vosberg at (507) 389-7409. Rochester, Holiday Inn City Centre To register, contact WSC at (651) 284-5060 or 1-800-657-3776. Duluth, Holiday Inn To register, contact Steve Korby at (218) 727-4565. St. Cloud/Waite Park, Holiday Inn To register, contact WSC at (651) 284-5060 or 1-800-657-3776.
• In St. Paul

– April 2:

– April 8:

– April 9:

All breakfasts are 7 to 9 a.m., at the Department of Labor and Industry, 443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul. Topics vary by date; cost of the breakfast and discussion is $8, payable at the door; however, advance registration is suggested. – May 21: Aerial-lift safety Presented by: John Porter We Buy Sell Equipment Inc. (WBSE)

For more information about the St. Paul Construction Breakfasts or to request to be placed on the seminar mailing list, e-mail MNOSHA Compliance at or call (651) 284-5139, toll-free at 1-877-470-OSHA (1-877-470-6742).

Safety Lines


Winter 2003