Safety Lines

The Newsletter of Minnesota OSHA
Number 39 Spring 2003

MNOSHA recognizes New Ulm Medical Center; 11th MNSTAR worksite
New Ulm Medical Center was recognized for its achievements as a MNSTAR (Minnesota Star) worksite April 30. Presenting the flag were: Ken Hickey (far left), Workplace Safety Consultation; Robin Kelleher (second from left), acting commissioner; Jim Parent (third from left), former OSHA consultant and compliance officer; and New Ulm Medical Center safety committee members. For more about MNSTAR, visit mnstar.html on the Web.

Meet new DLI Commissioner Scott Brener
In April, Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed Scott Brener as the new commissioner for the Department of Labor and Industry. Brener has served most recently as a government and regulatory affairs’ consultant. “Minnesota businesses and workers rely on this department to establish and ensure compliance with proper labor practices and standards,” said Pawlenty. “I am confident in Scott’s experience and abilities in this area. He has worked within state government, as well as with private-sector groups, to solve the very issues the department deals with on a daily basis.

Commissioner Scott Brener

“I share a deep-rooted affinity with the department in terms of its personnel and its policies,” Brener said. “I look forward to working as a member of the Pawlenty administration to further the safety and protection of Minnesota’s workers.” For more information about Brener and DLI, visit

By Pat Lorentz, Management Analyst

Guidelines to help the nursing-home industry prevent ergonomic injuries to their employees were published by federal OSHA in March. OSHA’s Guidelines for Nursing Homes focuses on practical recommendations for employers to reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries by using methods found to be successful in the nursing-home environment. The guidelines reflect best practices for tackling ergonomics problems in the nursing-home industry. Information for the guidelines came from numerous sources, including existing practices and programs, trade and professional associations, labor organizations, the medical community, individual firms, state OSHA programs and available scientific information. The guidelines are divided into five sections: developing a process for protecting workers; identifying problems and implementing solutions for resident lifting and repositioning; identifying problems and implementing solutions for activities other than resident lifting and repositioning; training; and additional sources of information. Implementation of specific measures or guidelines may differ from site to site; however, OSHA recommends that all facilities minimize manual lifting of residents in all cases and eliminate such lifting when feasible. The guidelines present 22 descriptive examples (with illustrations) of options that a facility can use. Many are simple, common sense modifications to equipment or procedures that do not require a lot of time or resources. The represented categories include: transfer from sitting to standing position; resident lifting; ambulation; lateral transfer; repositioning in a chair; and weighing, bathtub and shower activities. The guidelines also include questions designed to aid in the selection of equipment (as well as a supplier) that best meets the needs of an individual nursing home. jdsfsd sfafj sjfadfj sdjfds
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OSHA recommends that all facilities minimize manual lifting of residents in all cases and eliminate such lifting when feasible.

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OSHA also encourages employers to implement a basic ergonomics process that provides management support while involving workers, identifying problems and implementing solutions, addressing reports of injuries, providing training and evaluating ergonomic efforts. The guidelines are designed specifically for the nursinghome industry to help reduce the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in their facilities. MSDs include conditions such as low back pain, sciatica, rotator cuff injuries, epicondylitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Employers with similar work environments, such as assisted living centers, homes for the disabled, homes for the aged and hospitals, may also find the information useful. The guidelines include additional sources (including accessible Web sites) for those seeking more information about ergonomics and the prevention of work-related MSDs in nursing homes. Also included is A Nursing Home Case Study, based on information provided by Wyandot County Nursing Home in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Wyandot used a process that reflects many of the recommendations in these guidelines to address safety and health concerns. The Guidelines for Nursing Homes are available on the federal OSHA Website at guidelines/nursinghome/index.html. A copy of the guidelines may also be ordered by calling OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA.

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 3 Spring 2003

Grain industry safer with OSHA standard
By Pat Lorentz, Management Analyst

Federal OSHA Administrator John Henshaw recently announced that a regulatory review of the Grain Handling Facilities standard confirms it is helping to save lives and has not had a negative effect on the industry. Since the standard’s adoption in 1987, there were 70 percent fewer fatalities and 55 percent fewer injuries from grain explosions, and the number of grain suffocations went down 44 percent. The regulatory review was conducted to determine if the standard is needed and if it should be amended. Minnesota OSHA adopted the Grain Handling Facilities standard in 1988. Although the regulatory review found that no major changes have occurred in technological, economic or other factors that would warrant a substantial revision of the standard, it did point out some particular clarifications and minor changes that could be made to assist in compliance with the standard. Based on comments received as part of the review, OSHA will issue clarifications and consider possible improvements to the standard, including whether the confined-space requirements of the Grain Handling Facilities standard should apply to all areas of grain storage facilities currently covered by the general confined-spaces standard. OSHA will also consider updating references to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements that are currently in the standard. The Grain Handling Facilities standard focuses on requirements for controlling grain fires, grain dust explosions and hazards associated with entry into bins, silos and tanks. Grain mills and grain elevators are the major sectors affected by the standard. A summary of the report was published in the March 14, 2003, Federal Register – which is available on the federal OSHA Web site at The full regulatory report will also be available on the federal OSHA Web site shortly. A printed copy of the full report may be obtained by contacting OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA.

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Changing menu: Construction Breakfast jams Minnesota Room
By Gary Robertson, Training Officer

Change is coming to the Minnesota OSHA Construction Breakfast program next fall, due to the popularity of the breakfast safety-seminars – we have had to turn down reservations and turn people away at the door. The Minnesota Room at the Department of Labor and Industry is just too small for our current needs. This successful program allows the people who are responsible for construction-worksite safety to keep current with MNOSHA standards and rules. It is a time to discuss and share, with the speaker and the other attendees, ideas to improve worker safety throughout Minnesota’s construction industry. Participants are encouraged to ask questions, give opinions, express safety concerns and continue to nurture a respectable and open relationship between MNOSHA and the construction industry. And it’s the participation of the people who live and work each day in this industry that is the reason for the program’s success and, ultimately, the education and safety of Minnesota’s working people.

program that it’s hard to hear the speaker from all parts of the room. When the microphone volume is increased, a high-pitched shrill that only a cat on a backyard fence could appreciate, causes cringing pain and chipped teeth. Finally, what can be said about the parking space at Labor and Industry ... or lack thereof? At the beginning of each program, an announcement is made to have someone “please remove your truck” from this lot and put in that lot (which could already be full and is why the truck was parked in the other lot in the first place). Keep in mind that making this announcement is a very precarious task when one is addressing a room of construction people, early in the morning, who have just had a chance to take their first bite of breakfast.

Everything considered, these are wonderful problems to have. They are a way of expressing the importance of the construction program. Keeping safety at the forefront of our thoughts and at our worksites is a noble use of time and effort, and underscores the value of the The Minnesota Room can safely hold about 70 people. Construction Breakfast program. Hearing about and Safely yes, comfortably no. When the room is at capacity, discussing topics that can reduce the causes of employee some interesting and problematic situations occur, and injuries and illnesses, and having employees return home are pointedly communicated. An attendee’s skills at safely each night, is the program’s solemn purpose. playing hide-and-seek with the room’s pillars and the food lines come into play if one wishes to see the speaker. Finding a better location that will satisfy the growing It’s easy to tell who the “old timers” are: they arrive needs of this program is underway. Several locations early, get the choice seats, and have the first crack at the have been suggested and are being considered. Due to chow and hot coffee. current state-budget restraints and other concerns, the final location choice will need to be on state property Reading lips is another important requirement – especially and in the metro area. Stay tuned to MNOSH’s Web for late arrivals who must sit toward the middle or back page ( for updates of the room. It has been mentioned at most every and a schedule.

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MNOSHA continues two inspection-priorities: silica, lead
by Alden Hoffman, Industrial Hygiene Manager

Minnesota OSHA’s industrial hygienists continue their exposure, whereas chronic silicosis usually develops inspection priorities in two national emphasis programs, after 10 or more years of exposure. silica and lead. Federal OSHA estimates that more than one million U.S. Silica hazards workers are exposed to crystalline silica and, each year, Silicosis is one of the world’s oldest known more than 250 die from silicosis. The disease is occupational diseases, with reports dating back to completely preventable if employers, workers and health ancient Greece. Since the 1800s, the silicotic health professionals work together to reduce exposures. problems associated with crystalline silica dust exposure have been referred to under a variety of Symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, fever common names including: consumption, ganister and occasional bluish skin at the lips and ear lobes. disease, grinders’ asthma, grinders’ dust consumption, Advanced silicosis can result in extreme shortness of grinders’ rot, grit consumption, masons’ disease, breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, increased miner’s asthma, miner’s phthisis, potters’ rot, sewer susceptibility to infectious diseases of the lungs, disease, stonemason’s disease, chalicosis and respiratory failure and death. shistosis. Silicosis was considered the most serious occupational hazard during the 1930s, and was the Other diseases associated with the inhalation of silicafocus of major federal, state and professional attention containing dusts include chronic airways obstruction and during this time. The hazard is still present more than bronchitis, tuberculosis and several extrapulmonary 60 years later. diseases. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified silica as a potential human The main health-hazard associated with exposure to carcinogen. silica is silicosis, a scarring of the lungs that reduces the lungs’ ability to extract oxygen from the air. Federal OSHA has identified sandblasting as the source Silicosis, which is incurable, can be acute or chronic. of the most severe exposures to crystalline silica. Other Acute silicosis may occur after short periods of activities and industries that may expose workers to crystalline silica include: jack hammering; rock/well drilling; concrete mixing and drilling; brick/concrete-block cutting and sawing; tunneling operations; repair or replacement of linings of rotary kilns and cupola furnaces; setting, laying and repair of railroad track; stone cutting; electronics industry; foundry industries; ceramics, clay and pottery; stone; glass industries; slate and flint quarrying; flint crushing; use and manufacture of abrasives; manufacture of soaps and detergents; agriculture; food processing operations where crops such as potatoes and beans are readied for market; and maritime and mining industries. Employers and employees can reduce exposure to silica by: • using engineering controls such as water sprays, ventilation and material substitution;
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• not smoking; it can increase the risk to employees exposed to airborne silica; • using type-CE positive-pressure abrasive-blasting respirators when sandblasting; • properly using a respirator approved for crystalline silica-containing dust when performing operations requiring respiratory protection; • changing into disposable or washable work-clothes at blasting, etc., on lead paint surfaces; most smelter the site and showering after their use; and operations, either as a trace contaminant or as a major product; secondary lead smelters where lead is recovered • not eating, drinking, using tobacco or applying cosmetics from batteries; radiator repair shops; and firing ranges. in areas where crystalline silica dust is present and Oral ingestion may represent a major route of exposure washing faces and hands before doing any of the above. in contaminated workplaces. Most exposures occur with inorganic lead. Organic (tetraethyl and tetramethyl) lead, While OSHA requires employers to reduce silica which was added to gasoline up until the late 1970s, is exposures below the permissible exposure limit or not commonly encountered. Organic forms may be implement an abatement program with interim protection, absorbed through the skin, while inorganic forms cannot. OSHA and NIOSH also recommend that employers implement silicosis prevention programs that include Inorganic lead is not metabolized, but is directly personal air monitoring, employee training, housekeeping, absorbed, distributed and excreted. The rate depends medical surveillance (based on length of employment), on its chemical and physical form and on the physiological respiratory protection programs and clothing change characteristics of the exposed person (e.g. nutritional areas and showers. status and age). Once in the blood, lead is distributed primarily among three compartments – blood, soft tissue (kidney, bone marrow, liver and brain) and mineralizing Lead Overexposure to lead is one of the most common tissue (bones and teeth). Absorption via the overexposures found in industry. Lead overexposure is gastrointestinal tract following ingestion is highly a leading cause of workplace illness. Therefore, OSHA dependent upon presence of levels of calcium, iron, fats has established the reduction of lead exposure to be a and proteins. high strategic-priority. MNOSHA’s emphasis inspection program for lead is In general populations, lead may be present at hazardous based on a variety of sources. Federal OSHA identified concentrations in food, water and air. Sources include several industries with the potential for lead exposure. paint, urban dust and folk remedies. It is also a major MNOSHA worked with the Minnesota Department of potential public health risk. Lead poisoning is the leading Health to identify other industries. In addition, experience environmentally induced illness in children. At greatest of its own investigators was reviewed to select other risk are children less than the age of six, because they industries. Among the industries included are: foundries, are undergoing rapid neurological and physical firing ranges and stained-glass operations. Employers development. with employees who have a potential for lead exposure should review the requirements found in existing OSHA Lead is commonly added to industrial paints because of standards – 1910.1025 for general industry and 1926.62 its characteristic to resist corrosion. Industries with for the construction industry. particularly high potential-exposures include: Information from federal OSHA was used in construction work involving welding, cutting, brazing,
this story. Visit to learn more.
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Research highlights:
By Brian Zaidman, Research Analyst Research and Statistics

Minnesota Safety Report

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), Research and Statistics unit, has released the Minnesota Workplace Safety Report, detailing injury and illness rates and workplace fatalities for 2001. The report is based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). The Research and Statistics unit collects the Minnesota data for the BLS survey and the CFOI. Highlights of the report are presented here; the entire report is on the DLI Web site at rsreport.html. A printed copy of the report can be ordered by calling the workers’ compensation publications line at (651) 284-5030.
Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses

• Minnesota’s total rate of workplace injuries and illnesses dropped from 6.8 per 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers in 1999 and 2000, to 6.2 cases in 2001. This is Minnesota’s lowest rate in the history of the state survey. (See Figure 1, below.)
Figure 1
Injury and illness case-incidence rates, Minnesota, 1985-2001 1


8 Cases per 100 FTE workers

Total cases

Cases without lost workdays

Lost-workday cases


Days-away-from-work cases

Cases with restricted work activity only

0 '85 '86 '87 '88 '89 '90 '91 '92 '93 '94 '95 '96 '97 '98 '99 '00 '01

1. Includes injuries and illnesses in the private sector and state and local government. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses .

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• The rate of cases with lost workdays (days away from work or restricted work activity) decreased from 3.4 per 100 FTE workers in 2000 to 3.0 in 2001. • The rate of cases with days away from work fell steadily from 1.9 in 2000, to 1.7 in 2001. • Minnesota’s total and lost-workday case rates were below the total U.S. rates until the early 1990s, but have been significantly above the U.S. rates since 1996. For the private sector in 2000, the total case rate was 6.3 for the state versus 5.7 for the nation. The rate of cases with lost workdays was 3.1 for the state versus 2.8 for the nation. • Minnesota’s rate of cases with days away from work was roughly equal to the national rate starting in 1996. In 2001, the private-sector rate of cases with days away from work was 1.7 for the state and the nation. • Data for 2001 indicates that among industry divisions (the broadest industry grouping), Minnesota’s highest total injury and illness rates per 100 FTE workers were in: 1. construction (10.7); 2. agriculture, forestry and fishing (8.3); and 3. manufacturing (7.9). • Six of the 10 industries with the highest total case rates were in the manufacturing division. The average rate for the 10 highest industries fell from 15.7 cases in 2000, to 12.8 in 2001. (See Figure 2, below.)
Fatal occupational injuries

The CFOI covers all fatal work-injuries in the private and public sectors, regardless of program coverage; thus, it includes federal workers and self-employed workers, along with all others. However, fatal illnesses (such as asbestosis) are excluded. • In 2001, 76 Minnesotans were fatally injured on the job. For 1997 through 2001, Minnesota had an average of 78 fatal work injuries a year, consisting of 57 wage-and-salary workers and 21 self-employed workers. In recent years, the number of fatalities for self-employed workers has decreased, while fatalities for wage-and-salary workers have remained steady. • Among industry divisions, the highest average number of fatal injuries a year for 1997 through 2001 were in: 1. agriculture, forestry and fishing (18.0); 2. construction (14.8); 3. transportation and public utilities (11.2); and 4. manufacturing (10.0). • The most frequent causes of Minnesota’s fatal work injuries for 1997 through 2001 were: 1. transportation accidents (46 percent); 2. contact with objects and equipment (25 percent); and 3. falls (14 percent).

Figure 2
Industry groups with the highest total case rates, Minnesota, 2001 Total case rate 21.1 17.8 13.3 12.1 11.7 10.8 10.7 10.4 9.9 9.9

Industry Transportation equipment manufacturing Furniture and fixtures manufacturing Lumber and wood-products manufacturing Agricultural production -- livestock General building contractors Food and kindred products manufacturing Special trade contractors Local government health services Rubber and misc. plastics manufacturing Fabricated metal products manufacturing

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses .

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Minnesota OSHA survey results favorable

By Kelly Taylor, Program Administrator

In keeping with Minnesota OSHA’s ongoing efforts to improve collaboration with its stakeholders, surveys were conducted to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of MNOSHA’s impact on safety and health in the workplace. A survey of a random sample of employers inspected by MNOSHA was conducted in October 2001. In January 2003, a survey of employees interviewed during the course of an inspection was conducted. The respondents in both surveys were asked to rate their experience with a MNOSHA inspection in several different areas, including knowledge and professionalism of the inspector conducting the inspection, explanation of the rights and duties as employees and employers in Minnesota, and the impact of the inspection. Additionally, each group was asked to indicate why an inspection was conducted at their workplace. The response rate for employer surveys was much higher (74 percent) than the employee survey (10 percent). This can be attributed, at least in part, because employee surveys were handed out during the course of the inspection and returned anonymously with no follow-up contact with the survey respondent. Conversely, the employer surveys were mailed to the employer with reminders sent one, three and four weeks later. Overall, responses to all survey questions by both employees and employers were favorable. The lowest average score for any question related to the inspector’s knowledge and conduct was 3.86 on a five-point scale indicating a very high level of satisfaction or statement agreement. Likewise, both employers and employees indicate they believe the inspection will have a positive impact on improving workplace safety and health. Responses from the surveys also demonstrate both groups were adequately provided information regarding their rights and responsibilities as employers or employees in Minnesota during a MNOSHA inspection. The average score of employees was slightly higher – at 4.01 – in this category as compared to that of employers – at 3.47. One area of apparent confusion among both the employers and employees surveyed is the reason an inspection was conducted at his or her
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Types of inspection
Inspections scheduled by Minnesota OSHA fall into two general classifications: programmed and unprogrammed. Programmed (planned) inspections are unannounced and conducted on the basis of objective selection criteria. Unprogrammed inspections are conducted in response to reports of alleged hazardous working conditions at a specific work site through sources such as complaints, referrals, accidents and follow-up inspections. In 2002, there were 1,958 inspections conducted, 78 percent were programmed.

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workplace. Seventy-nine percent of employees indicated they either “just came up on the list” or they didn’t know why their workplace was scheduled for an inspection. These results are consistent with the 53 percent of employers who indicated similar reasons for the MNOSHA inspection. (See sidebar “MNOSHA inspections” in this edition.) Below are the specific questions asked on the respective surveys in the areas of inspector knowledge and conduct, and impact of the inspection.

Survey results
Inspector knowledge and conduct
Employers Average*

How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the inspector’s: • understanding of your industry? ..................................................................... 3.86 • ability to provide advice about workplace safety? ............................................ 4.05 • willingness to provide advice about workplace safety? ..................................... 4.11 • knowledge of OSHA ....................................................................................... 4.11

• The inspector looked at the important safety and health issues at this workplace .............................................................................................. 4.30 • The inspector’s answers to questions were satisfactory .................................... 4.15 • The inspector acted professionally during the inspection .................................. 4.43

Impact of the MNOSHA inspection
Employers Average*

How satisfied or dissatisfied were you with the usefulness of the: • information from the inspection for improving workplace safety and health? ..... 3.96 • inspection in improving workplace safety and health? ...................................... 3.96

I believe the workplace will be safer after the inspection .................................... 3.76

*5 = best possible score

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MNOSHA customer assistance by phone, Web, more
By Shelly Techar, Management Analyst Minnesota OSHA is committed to helping customers achieve safe and healthful work conditions by providing assistance by phone and through outreach programs, and by making much of its information available on the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) Web site.
By phone

MNOSHA staff resources; some requests are referred to MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation. • Construction breakfasts: MNOSHA presents Construction Breakfast seminars about five times a year. The breakfasts are well attended, begin with a buffet breakfast and then feature a presentation about a specific construction safety topic. (See related story on page 5.)
On the Web

Each day MNOSHA safety and health professionals staff phones and assist callers with a variety of topics. Some callers wish to file a safety complaint about their workplace, others want safety information – from very specific to general. Callers range from safety and health professionals to individuals who are starting a new business or safety program. In some cases, information can be provided to callers immediately; other callers are directed to MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation or the MNOSHA information on the Internet.
Through outreach

• Trade shows: MNOSHA staffs informational booths at several safety and health trade shows each year. These events include the Minnesota Safety Council conference in Minneapolis, and AGC Safety Days in Minneapolis and Duluth. • Presentations: MNOSHA staff members are often requested to speak to organizations or for specific events. Presentations can be arranged according to

MNOSHA provides a variety of safety and health information on the DLI Web site, including printable handouts and information about the video library – tapes are available for a free two-week loan. The site also provides links to other Web sites where safety and health regulations and other information can be accessed. The number of visitors to the MNOSHA information on the Web rose more than 25 percent during the first quarter of federal-fiscal-year 2003. For more information, visit the MNOSHA Web pages at or call MNOSHA at (651) 284-5050.

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