Safety Report


By Chris Ross

 

Chris Ross

 

How can Alaska Occupational Safety and Health help your business?

 

 Alaska is one of 26 states (and several other territories) that have elected to have a federal Occupational Safety and Health Ad­ministration-approved “state plan.” State-run safety and health programs must be at least as effective (and in­clude all the same elements) as the federal OSHA program and may have additional regulations.

AKOSH State Plan

The Alaska State Plan, or AKOSH, covers all private-sector places of employment in the state, with the following exceptions:

  1. Maritime employment, including shipyard employment, marine terminals and longshoring;
  2. Worksites located on the navigable waters, including artificial islands;
  3. Native American health care facilities that are federally owned and contractor-operated or oper­ated by tribal organizations under contract with the Indian Health Service;
  4. Operations of employers within the Metlakatla Indian Community on the Annette Islands; except state school district workers;
  5. Operations of employers within Denali National Park;
  6. Operations of contractors at Cape Lisburne Air Force Station, Point Lay Air Force Distant Early Warning Station, Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island, Fort Greely in Delta Junction, the U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Commands in Kodiak and Ketchikan, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Sitka, and the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command in Juneau;
  7. Contract workers and contractor-operated facilities engaged in United States Postal Service mail operations;
  8. The enforcement of the field sani­tation standard, 29 CFR 1928.110, and the enforcement of the temporary labor camps standard, 29 CFR 1910.142, with respect to any agricultural establishment where workers are engaged in “agricultural employment” (with some exceptions); and
  9. All working conditions of aircraft cabin crew-members on board aircraft in operation.

The Alaska State Plan also covers state and local government workers. It does not apply to federal government employers. Federal OSHA covers the issues not covered by the state plan.

AKOSH has adopted all federal OSHA standards and incorporates them by reference. In addition, AKOSH has adopted the following additional standards that are more stringent than federal standards, including:

General Industry

  • Explosives and Blasting Agents.
  • Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Temporary Labor Camps.
  • Confined Spaces.
  • Logging and Forestry.
  • Electric Power Generation, Trans­mission, and Distribution.
  • Painting Operations.
  • Electrical Hazards.
  • Toxic Substances.
  • Bloodborne Pathogens and Other Infectious Diseases.
  • Hazard Communication.
  • Oil and Gas Drilling, Servicing, and Production.
  • Oil and Gas Refining, Transporta­tion and Handling.
  • Asbestos Abatement (Training, Certification and Plan Approval).
  • Gases, Vapors, Fumes, Dusts or Mists.
  • Steel Erection and Wood Framing.
  • Electric Power Transmission and Distribution.

Details on the Alaska-specific regulations can be found here: Alaska Administrative Code; Title 08. Labor and Workforce Development; Chapter 61. Occupational Safety and Health (http://www.touchngo.com/lglcntr/ akstats/aac/title08/chapter061.htm).

While there are many differences that employers must consider, there are several key differences that Alaska employers must comply with:

  • Alaska has included Physical Agent Data Sheets (PADS) in addition to the familiar Safety Data Sheets (SDSs, formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets). These include hazards such as heat, noise, cold, vibration and others. Employers who have these hazards must provide these PADS to affected employees.
  • AKOSH has adopted more restrictive Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for air contami­nants (8 AAC 61.1100) that include PELs for 70 chemicals for which OSHA does not have a PEL, and lower PELs for 13 others. For example, the Federal PE for carbon monoxide is 50 parts per million, or ppm, whereas Alaska is 35 ppm.
  • AKOSH has adopted federal workplace recordkeeping require­ments for illness and injury reports and employee medical records by reference (8 Alaska Administrative Code (AAC) 61.1010), however the state’s requirement for posting the annual summary and reporting fatalities and severe injuries are more strict than federal require­ments. For example: Alaskan employers are required to report within eight hours any work-related fatality, overnight hospital­ization of one or more employees, loss of an eye or amputation of a body part. This is much sooner that the federal requirement.

There are two arms of AKOSH, Enforcement and Consultation. Each group has distinct functions.

Enforcement section

The Enforcement Section performs inspections, based on complaints and targeted programs, and issues mone­tary citations for serious violations of standards. According to the 2018 AKOSH Field Operations Manual, the top priorities for conducting inspec­tions are:

  1. Responding to reports of immi­nent danger situations.
  2. Investigation of fatalities or acci­dents resulting in hospitalization of one or more employees.
  3. Employee complaints of alleged violation of standards or of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.
  4. Follow-up or monitoring.
  5. Special-emphasis programs (in Alaska that includes seafood, warehousing/transportation and construction) including specific high-hazard industries or occupa­tions (in Alaska this includes any employer with three or more lost-time injuries or employers with above-industry injury rates).
  6. Public sector programs.

In addition to the initial inspec­tion, OSHA’s compliance officers must also conduct follow-up and monitoring inspections to ensure that hazards are being corrected and employees are being protected. AKOSH Compliance officers conduct between 300 and 350 site visits per year.

The top 10 most frequently cited standards in Alaska for FY 2017 (Oct. 2, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017) were:

  1. 1200(e)(1) Hazard Commu­nication (reported 25 times).
  2. 32(a)(1) Recordkeeping summary inaccurate (17 times).
  3. 151(c) Emergency eye wash stations (15 times).
  4. 305(g)(1)(iv)(A) Flexible cords used as permanent wiring (14 times).
  5. 501(b)(1) Construction unprotected sides (13 times).
  6. 32(a)(3) Recordkeeping summary not signed (12 times).
  7. AS 18.60.058(a) Reporting injuries and illnesses (12 times).
  8. 37(a)(3) Exit route obstruc­tions (11 times).
  9. 1200(h)(1) Hazard Commu­nication training (10 times).
  10. 303(g)(1) Electrical sufficient access to equipment (10 times).

Consultation and Training section

The Consultation and Training Section provides assistance to employers in a non-threatening envi­ronment to identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards. In addition to worksite inspections and training, AKOSH certifies training courses for asbestos abatement workers, explo­sive handlers and workers who apply hazardous paint. AKOSH has part­nered with AGC to present limited training courses.

The primary role of consultation services is to provide small employers (250 workers or less) with assistance to enhance worker safety. Employers may request consultation services by phone or online. Typical wait times may be as little as two to three weeks during the quiet (fall/winter) season or up to several months during the busy summer season. AKOSH offers on-site consultation services to help employers comply with AKOSH standards, regu­lations and other provisions of the state occupational safety and health statute and to identify and correct potential safety and health hazards.

A site visit typically begins with a written agreement outlining the scope and commitments the employer agrees to make. If, during the visit, there are any hazards that present an imminent danger to employees, they must be abated immediately or the employees must be removed from the hazard. For serious hazards, employers may be given additional time to abate the hazard; between a day or a month, depending on severity and other factors. Identified hazards not abated in the specified time period can be turned over to Enforcement, unless specific written arrangements are made. Consultation officers conducted 520 visits in 2016 and 395 visits in 2017.

Employers may also call their local Consultation and Training office for assistance over the phone.

The Consultation and Training Section also oversees voluntary recog­nition programs such as the Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP, the Safety and Health Achievement Recogni­tion Program, or SHARP, and the Construction Health and Safety Excel­lence Program, or CHASE.

AKOSH contact information

For further information, visit the AKOSH website at http://labor.state.ak.us/lss/oshhome.htm. You can visit the Anchorage Consultation and Training office, which offers many helpful resources, at 1251 Muldoon Road, Suite 109, Anchorage, AK 99504, Fax: 907-269-4950; or email AKOSH at Anchorage.LSS-OSH@alaska.gov. Statewide, you may call Consultation and Training at 800-656-4972 or Enforcement at 800-770-4940.

Occupational accidents that result in the death or overnight hospitalization of one or more employees must be reported to AKOSH within eight hours. Immediately report accidents to 800-770-4940 or 907-269-4940 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday Alaska time); or 800-321-6742 (after 4:30 p.m. or on weekends or holidays).


 The Engagement Effect, a division of Ross Performance Group, LLC, offers solutions in organizational results, safety and health, leadership, talent management and culture change. Learn more at www.theengagementeffect.com or email the author at chris@theengagementeffect.com.