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CONN-OSHA Quarterly

Volume No. 31
Fall 2002

Clean School Bus Program
Jim Pierce, Occupational Hygiene Consultant

As the academic year begins to unfold, a new policy which is geared towards reducing unwanted diesel exhaust emissions is also slated to begin. During this past summer, the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP) has been conducting training for school bus drivers and teachers on an anti-idling policy that was adopted in January 2002.

The policy was adopted due to a growing body of knowledge concerning the health effects from exposure to diesel exhaust emissions. The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) estimates that heavy duty diesel emissions comprise 33% of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 80% of all particulate emissions from mobile sources in the Northeast. Nitrogen oxides are ozone precursors and contribute to smog formation, which may cause lung scarring and may aggravate lung disease. Diesel particulate has been labeled a likely human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in addition, diesel exhaust contains 40 other known carcinogens. Based on this information, the anti-idling policy seems a prudent course of action.

This anti-idling policy and other diesel emission reduction efforts are intended to address the growing concerns about the health effects associated with exposure to diesel exhaust and the efforts the CTDEP and the Connecticut School Transportation Association (COSTA) are taking to eliminate unnecessary school bus idling. The policy (see Public Act  #02-56 for details) signed by COSTA and CTDEP in January, directs operators of diesel fueled school buses to limit idling to three minutes. Also, the policy directs the school bus drivers to shut off buses immediately upon reaching their destinations and not to idle while waiting for passengers. This rule applies whether a driver is providing home-to-school, activity, or charter transportation. In addition, during morning start-up, drivers are directed to idle no longer than necessary to bring school bus engines to the proper operating temperature and to defrost all windows. There are some exceptions allowed to this policy.

If the driver needs the engine operational to engage safety equipment, or if a safe temperature is needed inside the bus, or if the outside temperature is under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, then the driver is allowed to continue to run the diesel motor. For more details regarding exceptions to this policy, consult the Public Act # 02-56.

 We would like to thank the CTDEP for their assistance in developing this article. Additionally, if you have any questions regarding the Clean School Bus Program, please contact Joe Foutz (CTDEP) at (860) 424-3027.

Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)
John Able, CSP, Occupational Safety Training Specialist

Connecticut OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) is a recognition program developed to provide a road map and an incentive for Connecticut employers and employees to work together to find and correct hazards, develop and implement effective safety and health programs, continuously improve, and become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health. Employers who meet all of the eligibility criteria and on-going program requirements may be removed from OSHA=s Programmed Inspection Schedule for a period of not less than one year.

SHARP is a program of Connecticut OSHA=s Consultation group. The goal of SHARP is to recognize employers that have achieved an exemplary level of occupational safety and health management, to reduce injuries and illnesses, and to provide a means for showing other employers that occupational safety and health can work - for everyone.

There are a couple of things all Connecticut employers should know about SHARP:  It isn=t SHARP certificates or inspection exemptions that make SHARP special. What makes SHARP special is that Connecticut employers can form partnerships with Connecticut OSHA consultants to make lasting improvements to their systems for managing safety and health. It=s those lasting improvements that make the program special. They are also why SHARP employers tell us that they are glad they went through the process.

The second thing that makes SHARP special is that it causes employers and employees to accept nothing less than continuous improvement - and once they attain that “mind-set” of constantly striving for continuous improvement, there is little they cannot accomplish. 

The Journey

The journey to SHARP status comes about through a process in which Connecticut OSHA consultation staff conduct an initial assessment of a company interested in participating, to let the company know how well it is managing safety and health and to identify its strengths and weaknesses.  Once that happens, the company can focus its energy where it is most needed.  The company develops an action plan and begins working toward its goal.  Connecticut OSHA staff return, as needed, to provide assistance and guidance. When the company is ready, a consultant conducts a final assessment, and, if the company qualifies, recommends it for SHARP approval.  SHARP approval lasts one year.  In order to re-qualify, SHARP companies are expected to work toward continuous improvement of their safety and health management systems. 

Feedback from participants in the SHARP program has been positive.  It=s rewarding for all parties involved to see safety taken seriously and accidents happening less often.  In addition to receiving the SHARP certificate and the knowledge that they have achieved a safety goal very few companies strive to achieve, the company is removed from the OSHA list of programmed inspections for the year of SHARP approval.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be considered for participation in SHARP, an employer must:

  • Employ not more than 250 employees at the site and not more than 500 at all sites nationwide.

  • Be in an industry that is on OSHA's high-hazard list, or be on any national, state or locally approved special emphasis program list.

  • Be a single, fixed worksite.

  • Have at least one year of operating history, in order to have established a Lost Work Day Injury and Illness (LWDII) rate and a Total Recordable Case Rate (TRCR).

  • Have reduced the Lost Work Day Injury and Illness (LWDII) rate and Total Recordable Case Rate to below the industry average.

Program Requirements

Employers requesting consideration for SHARP must:

  • Request a full service, comprehensive visit and correct all hazards (serious and other-than-serious) identified by both the safety and health consultants.

  • Have implemented and are maintaining a safety and health management system addressing, at a minimum, the major elements of the 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines.

  • Score at least two on all basic attributes of the Safety and Health Program Assessment Worksheet (Revised OSHA Form 33).

  • Agree to notify the Consultation Project Manager prior to making any changes in working conditions or work processes that might introduce new hazards into the workplace.

If you are interested in becoming a SHARP participant, or in receiving more information, call CONN-OSHA at (860) 566-4550.

CONN-OSHA Training Update 

CONN-OSHA continues to offer NO-COST training to educate and help employers and employees implement effective safety and health management programs.  The workshops are designed to introduce managers, supervisors, safety committee members, and employees to occupational safety and health management concepts and technical program requirements.  Be sure to check the CONN-OSHA web site for additional information, this site is updated periodically.  Go to:

Workshop Registration Information

There are three convenient ways to register - by mail, fax, or e-mail.  We require preregistration for all workshops because of limited classroom size.  We will send a confirmation letter to you, directions will be included.

  • By mail:
    Mr. John Able
    Connecticut Department of Labor, OSHA Division
    38 Wolcott Hill Road
    Wethersfield, CT 06109

  • Fax: (860) 566-6916

  • E-mail:

NOTE: All workshops will be held at the State of Connecticut Department of Labor Staff Development Conference Room “A,” 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office9.


October 3, 2002, 9am - 12 noon

Recordkeeping, the new OSHA Form 300

Introduces participants to the new Recordkeeping Standard and requirements.  If you are responsible for filling out the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, if you supervise the person that completes the form, or if you are a safety committee member, this class is a must!

November 7, Nov. 14, and Nov. 21, 2002

Hour Construction Course

This Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office-hour course was designed by OSHA to educate people responsible for safety with varied experience levels. Those who complete the course will receive a course completion certificate and a course completion wallet card issued by OSHA. This is a Connecticut Associated Builders and Contractors (CT ABC) sponsored course, contact them directly at (860) 529-5886.

December 4, 2002, 9 am – 12 noon

CONN-OSHA and the Connecticut Labor Dept. Division of Wage & Workplace Standards, What’s the difference?  Come hear what it’s all about! 

This information session will provide attendees with information about how these two divisions relate to one another. Representatives from both divisions will present information about the scope of their responsibilities, and about how best to utilize the support services both Divisions provide.

December 9 through December 13, 2002

30 Hour Construction Course

This 30-hour course was designed by OSHA to educate people responsible for safety with varied experience levels. Those who complete the course will receive a course completion certificate and a course completion wallet card issued by OSHA. This is a Connecticut Associated Builders and Contractors (CT ABC) sponsored course, contact them directly at (860) 529-5886.

December 17, 2002, 9 am – 12 noon

Safety & Health Management Planning

This workshop introduces the participants to the elements of an effective safety and health management program. Through discussion and exercises, the participants explore compliance and best practices in managing safety systems. Overcoming obstacles to safety management is also discussed.

Recordkeeping Update:  OSHA Issues Final Rule on Recording Hearing Loss 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, employers will be required to record work-related hearing loss cases when an employee's hearing test shows a marked decrease in overall hearing. Employers can make adjustments for hearing loss caused by aging, seek the advice of a physician or licensed health care professional to determine if the loss is work-related, and perform additional hearing tests to verify the persistence of the hearing loss.

Under the new rule, the criteria will record Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office-decibel shifts from the employee’s initial hearing test when they also result in an overall hearing level of 25 decibels.  The old criteria recorded 25-decibel shifts.

Any questions regarding this revision should be directed to the Occupational Safety and Health Statistics Unit at (860) 566-4380.  Additional information regarding recordkeeping can be found at

Hazard Corner 

It started out as a routine call to resolve a sewage blockage in a manhole.  It ended up with a severe injury resulting in multiple surgeries and several months of rehabilitation.

Two employees of a municipal wastewater treatment plant responded to a dispatched call that there was a sewage blockage in a manhole resulting in a sewage overflow.  A Combination Sewer Jet/Vacuum Truck (JetVac) was used.  The employees checked  several manholes to determine the best method to eliminate the blockage.  They attempted to clear the obstruction using high pressure water from the JetVac from manholes both upstream and downstream from the blockage with no success.

An attempt was then made to vacuum out the sewage from the filled manhole.  No progress was made.  As a last resort to remove the blockage, the employees decided to use the water jet to bore through the blockage in the manhole, even though they could not see the bottom (operating Ablind@).  The JetVac=s water pressure started at approximately Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office00 pounds per square inch (psi) with the pressure slowly     increased to approximately 2500 psi.  When it became   apparent that the obstruction was not eliminated, the      employees decided to shut off the pump supplying pressure to the hose.  Just as one employee went to the side of the truck to shut off the pump, a large spray of water came out of the manhole followed by the high pressure nozzle      attached to the JetVac hose.  The nozzle struck one of the workers in the throat leading to a life threatening injury.  It appeared that the blockage in the manhole caused the high pressure hose to coil at the bottom of the manhole and somehow become propelled out of the manhole.

The injured employee had worked at the wastewater treatment plant for many years. His co-worker had spent       approximately 60% of his time operating the JetVac.  Both employees and management stated that they had never had a high pressure hose become propelled out of a manhole before.  Training records indicated that the employer had conducted extensive training on the use of the JetVac.  A safety consultant utilized by the employer had conducted on site field training on the safe operation and hazards   associated with the use of the JetVac.  The JetVac was   removed from service following the incident.  The operating system and components were observed to be in good working condition.

There were no apparent violations of CONN-OSHA standards found related to this accident.  It was recommended, however, that the employer initiate a policy whereby the use of the JetVac high pressure hose in a Ablind@ situation be considered only when all other alternatives have been exhausted and appropriate safety procedures have been  implemented and reviewed.  These alternative methods  include attempting to pump out the sewage from an        upstream manhole to reduce the sewage flow from the blocked manhole.  It was further recommended that a    portion of the manhole cover or other substantial barrier be placed over the manhole when using the JetVac “blind” to prevent the nozzle from being propelled out of the manhole. 

In 1999, a similar incident in the Midwest occurred when the nozzle attached to a JetVac=s high pressure hose was propelled out of a manhole and struck an employee on the side of his head, fatally injuring him.

There are many employers that operate Combination Sewer Jet/Vacuum trucks. Employers should review current operating procedures and implement alternative practices prior to using the JetVac in a “blind” condition.

OSHA-Quarterly Index

Last Updated: March 01, 2017

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