The newsletter of Minnesota OSHA • Summer 2007 • Number 56

Safety Lines
Minnesota OSHA hosts national state-plan association

Above: Ed Foulke, assistant secretary for federal OSHA, addresses attendees at the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association (OSHSPA) meeting June 12 in Minneapolis. At right: Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Scott Brener welcomes the national OSHSPA group to Minnesota prior to Jon Helberg's (seated in photo) presentation showcasing Minnesota OSHA's newly developed, technically advanced, information management system.

New law in effect:

crane-operator certification, regulation mandatory July 1
A new Minnesota law requiring the certification and regulation of crane operators took effect July 1. No individual may operate a crane with the lifting capacity of five tons or more on a construction site unless that person has a valid crane-operator certificate. The certificate must be issued by a nationally recognized and accredited certification program. The new regulation applies to all wire rope-over-sheave mobile cranes and mobile tower cranes. The standard does not apply to track and automotive jacks, railway or automobile wrecking cranes, shipboard cranes, shipboard cargo handling equipment, well drilling derricks, skip hoists, mine hoists, truck body hoists, car or barge pullers, conveyors or excavating equipment when not used as a lifting crane. Visit for more information.

443 Lafayette Road N. • St. Paul, MN 55155 • (651) 284-5050 • 1-800-342-5354 •

Hydration, acclimatization help workers beat the heat
Although heat stress may occur year-round in foundries, kitchens or laundries, its effects may sneak up on those working in the heat and humidity of a Minnesota summer. Workers who stay hydrated and are allowed to acclimatize to increased temperatures, can avoid a variety of heat disorders – from heat fatigue, rashes and cramps to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be fatal. Minnesota OSHA has comprehensive heat-stress information online at that includes a discussion of heat disorders, prevention of disorders, methods for evaluating heat stress and methods of control.

Minnesota OSHA standards update: shipyards, electrical installation
By Shelly Techar, MNOSHA Management Analyst

On July 2, 2007, Minnesota OSHA adopted the following amendments.
National consensus standards in OSHA’s standard for fire protection in shipyard employment

On Oct. 17, 2006, federal OSHA published in the Federal Register, a direct final rule for shipyards that updates 11 of the 19 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards that were incorporated by reference Sept. 15, 2004. The direct final rule stated the updates would become effective at the federal level Jan. 16, 2007, unless significant adverse comment was received. Federal OSHA did not receive significant adverse comment to the direct final rule. Therefore, a final rule and confirmation of effective date was published in the Federal Register Jan. 3, 2007.
Electrical standard

On Feb. 14, 2007, federal OSHA published in the Federal Register, a final rule for its updated electrical installation standard. This revision will provide the first update of the installation requirements in the general industry electrical installation standard since 1981. The final rule focuses on safety in the design and installation of electrical equipment in the workplace. The updated standard includes a new alternative method for classifying and installing equipment in Class I hazardous locations; new requirements for groundfault circuit interrupters (GFCIs); and new provisions about wiring for carnivals and similar installations. The effective date for this final rule is Aug. 13, 2007. All Federal Register notices and standards are available on the federal OSHA Web site, All State Register publications are at
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Hexavalent chromium in the news
By Alden Hoffman, OSHA Management Team Director, Health

Federal OSHA signed a settlement agreement April 6, 2007, with the AFL-CIO, Laborers’ International Union and International Brotherhood of Teamsters. A year earlier, the unions sued OSHA after the agency issued a court-ordered hexavalent chromium standard that excluded coverage of workplace exposures to Portland cement. As part of the April settlement, OSHA will issue a new document providing specific enforcement procedures for working with Portland cement. The document will explain how existing OSHA standards and requirements apply to operations involving Portland cement, and will collect all applicable provisions in a single inspection checklist. When Portland cement is present, the inspections will focus on sanitation, personal protective equipment, hazard communication (i.e. employee right-to-know), training, recordkeeping and dust from certain operations (terrazzo work, mixing mortar or jobsite mixing of concrete). The settlement agreement is not binding for state OSHA programs, such as Minnesota OSHA. However, Portland cement inspection procedures, will be published as an appendix to the OSHA compliance directive about the chromium standard, to be issued later this year. State OSHA programs will be required to adopt a compliance directive at least as effective as the federal directive when it is issued. In response, Minnesota OSHA has adopted a directive that follows the terms of the federal agreement.
Safety Lines, Summer 2007

Federal OSHA signed a second settlement agreement May 21, 2007, with the National Association of Manufacturers, et al, and Public Citizen Health Research Group, et al. These groups sued OSHA regarding issues of engineering controls for stainless steel welding in enclosed or confined spaces, housekeeping and waste disposal. As part of this settlement, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation regarding these issues. In the letter, federal OSHA wrote that an employer may be considered in compliance with the welding in confined-spaces provisions if it has done the most that is possible, even if exposures remain above the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Secondly, if an employer has objective data that exposures will remain below 0.5 μg/m3, the housekeeping and waste disposal provisions do not apply. Lastly, OSHA will evaluate on a case by case basis whether an employer correctly determined it was infeasible to dispose of large, bulky materials in impermeable containers. See for the full text of the letter of interpretation. Employers that wish assistance with compliance with the new hexavalent chromium standard, including air-quality monitoring, may contact Minnesota OSHA Workplace Safety Consultation at (651) 284-5060 or

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Worker safety is a sound investment
By Laura French, reprinted with permission from Star Tribune

E.J. Ajax, located in Fridley, is quite possibly the safest manufacturing company in the world. In July [2006], the 50-person metal-stamping shop celebrated 16 years without a lost-time accident.* It’s been five years since a worker suffered so much as a cut or back strain on the job. Can a substantial investment in worker safety actually have a positive impact on the bottom line? E.J. Ajax proves the answer is “yes!”
Safety culture protects both workers and profits

When you talk to Erick Ajax about the intense safety culture at E.J. Ajax, the company founded by his grandfather 61 years ago, his motivation is clear: “A serious work injury, like an amputation, has a devastating effect on the worker and the worker’s family,” Ajax says. It’s Erick Ajax of E.J. Ajax, Fridley, Minn. “indescribable pain,” he says — and it’s pain that he shares as a human resources vice president who greets everyone on the shop floor by first name. The last time anyone at E.J. Ajax had a serious injury was 16 years ago — that’s aeons by typical manufacturing standards. Back then, the company embarked on a process of continuous safety improvements. Today, E.J. Ajax provides every new hire with safety gear that includes safety glasses — prescription if necessary; a $200 pair of work boots, ear protection and more. Metal-stamping equipment has multiple safety guards. Workers who handle sharp metal pieces wear elbow-length Kevlar gloves. In addition to the safety and protection those items provide, they’re also a constant reminder of the importance the company places on safety. The safety culture is strictly enforced: One violation in a 12-month period gets a verbal warning. The second is put in writing. The third results in a one-day paid “decision-making leave,” when the employee is sent home to decide whether he or she can follow safety policies. If not, termination results. Workers have total authority to shut down any machine or operation at any time if they question its safety. Conventional wisdom says that American manufacturing companies can’t compete with offshore operations based on wages alone. By that logic, the additional investment that E.J. Ajax makes in its workers’ safety would undermine its ability to compete. In fact, the company
E.J. Ajax continues ...
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Safety Lines, Summer 2007

E.J. Ajax continued ...

just received the biggest single order in its history — and 100 percent of that order will be shipped to Asia.
Low workers’ comp claims are a bonus

Some of the return on investment in safety is tangible: E.J. Ajax has a workers’ compensation rating that saves it more than a thousand dollars a year per employee in insurance premiums. The company gives 50 percent of savings back to workers as a “safety bonus.” By contrast, Erick Ajax says, he’s seen Twin Cities competitors literally driven out of business by high premiums caused by a history of serious injuries. Other returns are just as important but harder to measure. The safety culture makes the company the employer of choice among many prospective workers. Many employees stay with the company 10, 20 years or more. Rob Duval, the company’s director of employee training and safety, says spouses come to him at company picnics to say thank you for taking care of their employees.
Spreading the word on safety

Erick Ajax is working with Minnesota’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to spread the word on safety. The company provides monthly tours for other companies’ management and safety committee members to show the safety culture in action. “Sharing our successes helps them become safer, and that helps keep manufacturing jobs in Minnesota,” Ajax says. For more information on the company, go to For more on Minnesota workplace health and safety, visit the Department of Labor and Industry Web site at *As of July 12, 2007, E.J. Ajax will have worked 17 years without a lost-time injury. Laura French is principal of Words Into Action, Inc., and is a freelance writer from Roseville. This story was originally published Oct. 16, 2006, by Star Tribune ( Employers enhance safety and health; free assistance from Minnesota OSHA The Minnesota Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (MNSHARP), which began in 1996, recognizes companies where managers and employees work together to develop safety and health programs that go beyond basic compliance with all applicable OSHA standards, and result in immediate and long-term prevention of job-related injuries and illnesses. Incentives for participant companies include assistance from Minnesota OSHA Workplace Safety Consultation, public recognition for employers and employees, and exemption from Minnesota OSHA scheduled compliance inspection lists. There are currently 27 active MNSHARP worksites in Minnesota. Learn more about MNSHARP at

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Minnesota's newest MNSHARP worksites

Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin, Minn., recognized June 26, 2007.

Minnesota Freezer Warehouse, Austin, Minn., recognized June 7, 2007.

For more information about MNSHARP:

Minnesota's newest MNSTAR worksites

Honeywell Aerospace Minneapolis, recognized May 15, 2007.

iLevel by Weyerhaeuser, St. Paul, Minn., recognized May 23, 2007.

For more information about MNSTAR:
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osha answers
frequently asked questions
As part of its continual effort to improve customer service and provide needed information to employers and employees, Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) plans to publish answers to the most frequently asked questions from the previous quarter.


Does the employer have to follow the respiratory fit-testing protocol for N95 mask usage?

An employee required to wear an N95 mask for any reason other than tuberculosis exposure must be evaluated and fit-tested on an annual basis. However, initial fit-testing is mandatory whenever respirators are required, regardless of the hazard. It is also required when there is a change in the wearer’s physical condition that may interfere with the seal. If the use of respirator is strictly voluntary on the part of the employee, fit-testing is not required.

How many “nationally recognized and accredited certification programs” are there for crane operators?

Currently, Minnesota OSHA is aware of only two nationally accredited mobile crane certification programs: the Southern California Crane and Hoisting Certification Program; and the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

When is a crane operator required to be certified?

Minnesota Statutes §182.6525, subd. 1, states “An individual may not operate a crane with a lifting capacity of five tons or more on a construction site unless the individual has a valid crane operator certificate received from a nationally recognized and accredited certification program.” This applies to those cranes that fall under ASME 30.5-2004 Mobile and Locomotive Cranes. Examples of cranes covered by this consensus standard include truckmounted telescoping and nontelescoping boom cranes, crawler cranes, locomotive cranes and wheel-mounted cranes.

Do you have a question for Minnesota OSHA? To get an answer, call (651) 284-5050 or send an e-mail message to We may feature your question here.

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Standard 1926.501(b)(1) 1926.451(g)(1) Minnesota Statutes 182.653, sub. 2 1926.652(a)(1) Minnesota Statutes 182.653 subd. 8 1926.100(a) 1926.501(b)(10) 1926.1052(c)(1) 1926.501(b)(14) 1926.501(b)(11) 1926.451(b)(1) Minnesota Rules 5207.0100 Minnesota Rules 5207.1000 subp. 4 1926.451(e)(1) 1926.651(c)(2)

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Occupational Safety and Health Division 443 Lafayette Road N. St. Paul, MN 55155 (651) 284-5050 Toll-free: 1-877-470-6742

Fact sheet
Minnesota OSHA's most frequently cited standards in the construction industry, 2006 (SIC codes 1521 through 1799)
Description Fall protection – general requirements Fall protection on scaffolds above 10 feet General Duty Clause – unsafe working conditions Use of sloping or protective systems to prevent excavation cave-ins A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction (AWAIR) Program Head protection Fall protection for roofing work on low-slope roofs Railings on stairways Fall protection near wall openings Fall protection on steep roofs Scaffold platform not fully planked or decked High visibility personal protective equipment High visibility personal protective equipment near mobile earth-moving equipment Means of access to different scaffold platforms Means of egress from a trench excavation more than four feet deep Frequency 101 86 85 61 51 51 43 41 36 30 29 27 26 24 22

Links to the standards listed above are available online at, under "Citations." There are also similar lists for all industries and for general industry.

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Minnesota workers' compensation claim statistics-at-a-glance
The Department of Labor and Industry's (DLI) Research and Statistics unit has produced a new workers' compensation teen claims characteristics handout and updated its annual claims characteristics brochure. The handout provides statistics-at-a-glance specifically about teen injury, illness and fatality claims for 2003 through 2005, such as the number of claims, nature of injury or disease, occupation of injured workers and common injury-characteristics. The brochure also provides such information for overall workers' compensation claims for 2005. Both publications include resources for further workers' compensation statistical information. The handout and brochure (current and past versions) are available on the DLI Web site at For more information, contact DLI's Research and Statistics unit at or (651) 284-5025. Part of body
Head and neck 3% Shoulders 4% Trunk 3%
(except back)

Arms 7% Back 17%

Wrists 5% Hands 8% Fingers 15%

Legs 3%

Body systems 1%

Knees 7%

Multiple parts 9%

Ankles 7% Feet 5%

Toes 1%

Top 10 most common disabling accident events in the construction industry in Minnesota, 2004 through 2006
Event Percent of claims

Overexertion in holding, carrying, turning or wielding objects............................ 11 percent Overexertion in lifting........................................................................................... 11 percent Bodily reaction from slips, trips or loss of balance, without falling ...................... 6 percent Struck against object .............................................................................................. 6 percent Falls to floor or ground surface .............................................................................. 5 percent Fall from ladder...................................................................................................... 5 percent Bodily reaction from bending, climbing, crawling, reaching or twisting .............. 5 percent Stuck by falling object ........................................................................................... 4 percent Overexertion in pulling or pushing ........................................................................ 3 percent Struck by slipping handheld object ........................................................................ 2 percent

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Construction industry sinks teeth into safety
Minnesota OSHA wrapped up its Construction Breakfast 2006/2007 season May 15. During the season, MNOSHA presents five breakfast seminars, each focused on a specific construction safety or health topic. Construction industry attendees are encouraged to ask questions or offer their expertise. The seminars begin with a buffet breakfast, followed by a presentation about the morning's selected topic. The recent season attracted nearly 575 participants from the construction industry. The dates for the next season of MNOSHA's Construction Breakfast seminars have been set (see below); the topics are currently being determined. More information and online reservation capability will be available at
Minnesota OSHA Administrative Director Jeff Isakson (in white shirt) addresses members of the construction industry during the Construction Breakfast seminar, May 15, in St. Paul, Minn. MNOSHA Training Officer Gary Robertson is behind the lectern.

Minnesota OSHA's Workplace Safety Consultation offers similar safety seminars in Brainerd, North Mankato and Owatonna.

Construction Breakfast seminars: save the dates
Dates for the MNOSHA 2007/2008 Construction Breakfast seminars in St. Paul, Minn., have been selected: • • • • • Mon., Sept. 24, 2007; Tues., Nov. 20, 2007; Tues., Jan. 15, 2008; Tues., March 18, 2008; and Tues., May 20, 2008.

Topics are being determined; complete information will be posted online at

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WSC forms safety, health alliance with The Builders Group
Minnesota OSHA Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) signed an official alliance July 6 with The Builders Group, Eagan, Minn. Forming an alliance with WSC enables organizations committed to workplace safety and health to collaborate with MNOSHA to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. The Builders Group is a selfinsured workers' compensation program for the construction industry of Minnesota.
Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and The Builders Group representatives sign off on a Workplace Safety Consultation alliance, July 6. Front row (l to r): Dennis Medo, director of insurance, The Builders Group, and Tom Joachim, DLI assistant commissioner, Safety Codes and Services Division. Back row (l to r): Vikki Sanders, James Collins and Andy Smoka, DLI MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation.

For more about Workplace Safety Consultation alliances, visit www.

Digging projects large or small need to start with simple call
A new federally mandated national "Call Before You Dig" number – 811 – was created to help protect you from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects. People digging often make risky assumptions about whether they should get their utility lines marked due to concerns about project delays, costs and previous calls about other projects. These assumptions can be life-threatening. Every digging job requires a call – even small projects such as planting trees or shrubs. If you hit an underground utility line while digging, you can harm yourself or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and potentially be responsible for fines and repair costs. Whether you are a homeowner or a professional excavator, one call to 811 gets your underground utility lines marked for free. And call before each project: Time, erosion and root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines. For more information about this free service, visit

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