grain elevator

NGFA signs cooperative alliance with OSHA

Two-year alliance will focus on finding ways to reduce exposures to hazards and promote workplace safety and health.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has formed an alliance with the National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) with the goal of protecting the safety and health of workers in the grain handling industry. The two-year alliance will focus on preventing exposures to hazards associated with grain bin entry, machine guarding, respiratory protection, falls, heat, combustible dust, being struck by equipment and lockout/tagout.

This collaboration is designed to help NGFA build trusting, cooperative relationships with the agency, network with OSHA staff to increase lines of communication within the agency, leverage resources to maximize worker safety and health protection and gain recognition as a proactive leader in safety and health.

Alliance participants will share recommended practices or effective approaches for recognizing and preventing grain handling hazards with OSHA staff and industry safety and health professionals. Participants also plan to support and promote events such as the Grain Industry Stand-Up, which focuses on engulfment prevention.

“Grain handling operations pose numerous hazards that can cause serious, sometimes fatal injuries,” said deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health Loren Sweatt. “We look forward to working with NGFA to find ways to reduce exposures to hazards and promote workplace safety and health.”

There are few formal program requirements for alliances, and the agreements do not include a standards or enforcement component. However, OSHA and the participating organizations must define, implement and meet a set of short-term and long-term goals that fall into two categories: (1) raising awareness of OSHA’s rule-making and enforcement initiatives and (2) outreach and communication.

Acting deputy assistant secretary Tom Galassi described alliance between NGFA and OSHA as “the first step in a process where we work together to allow you to understand OSHA and us you.”

Through the alliance, NGFA and OSHA will focus on providing both NGFA members and OSHA staff with information guidance and access to resources regarding the safety and health hazards associated with grain bin entry, machine guarding, respiratory protection, falls, heat, combustible dust, struck-by and lockout/tagout. The sharing of information can be done through promoting participation in OSHA’s cooperative programs and speaking or exhibiting at conferences and meetings.

Greg Rowe, vice president of grain and processing operations at Perdue Agribusiness in Salisbury, Md., and chair of NGFA’s Safety, Health & Environmental Quality Committee, said the alliance will provide a more proactive and structured process with the agency and will allow NGFA members to meet “face to face with OSHA on a more regular basis.”

An implementation team consisting of representatives from each organization will meet to develop a work plan, determine working procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants. NGFA’s team will include staff and members of the Safety, Health & Environmental Quality committee. OSHA’s team will consist of staff from the Directorate of Cooperative & State Programs, the Directorate of Enforcement Programs, the Directorate of Standards & Guidance and selected regions, including 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10.

The American Feed Industry Assn. and the Grain Elevator & Processing Society also will be invited to participate on the implementation team as guests.

OSHA Region VII administrator Kim Stille said the alliance provides an opportunity for the agency and the industry to learn from each other. By focusing on significant hazards faced in five OSHA regions, Stille said the alliance will help OSHA “work in a collaborative fashion … with the industry to identify the hazards and communicate them to a wider audience" than could be achieved with inspections.

Founded in 1896, NGFA is a nonprofit trade association that represents and provides services for grain, feed and related commercial businesses. The association has more than 1,000 member companies that handle more than 70% of all U.S. grains and oilseeds used in domestic and export markets. Its activities focus on enhancing the growth and economic performance of U.S. agriculture.

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