Skip to comments.OSHA targets shooting range
Posted on 06/25/2012 10:33:57 AM PDT by marktwain
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a citation, along with a proposed fine of $111,000 fine (OSHA press release here), against Illinois Gun Worksa gun store and gunsmith business which has a shooting range and teaches safety classes. HT Instapundit and David Codrea. In a November 2009 article for the NRA magazine Americas 1st Freedom, I warned about the dangers of President Obamas nomination of David Michaels as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (head of OSHA), based on Michaels well-established record as an anti-gun advocate.
Many of alleged OSHA violations at the safety training range involved noise exposure for the instructors. Among OSHAs suggestions were to eliminate training in larger caliber handguns such as 9 mm Luger and/or .45 Colt and substitute handguns of smaller caliber, such as .22LR. And Prohibition of any shotguns and/or rifles firing in the firing range. (p. 6). In other words, eliminate training for all firearms except those which are least likely to have the stopping power to be effective for self-defense. And ensure that the range can never provide students with personal instruction in the use of the firearms which constitute the vast majority of firearms which people actually own.
Among the violations noted in the citation: An instructor on the range wore Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs, which allegedly provided insufficient noise protection. (p. 11). Ive never used the Howard Leight brand, but I have used electronic muffs from Peltor and from Dillon. Electronic muffs are the perfect choice for hearing protection and range safety, especially for an instructor. When the muffs detect a sound spike, they instantly shut down, reducing the noise to a comfortable level. Unlike passive muffs, electronic muffs do not block sound at other times, so it is much easier for the instructor to communicate with students, and to hear everything going on in the area. Indeed, normal sounds (but not gunshots) can be amplified by the muffs electronics, if the user so chooses.
My Peltor muffs have a Noise Reduction Rating of 19 decibels, while the Howard Leight muffs used by the Illinois Gun Works instructor had a NRR of 22db. I have previously used passive muffs (consisting of foam padding around the ears, with no electronics); passive muffs with a NRR in the low 20s allow more sound than I want, and I find that for passive muffs, a NRR of 29 or higher is much better. However, whatever the rated NRR of the electronic muffs, I can tell you that electronic muffs are far superior at sound reduction compared to passive muffs with much higher ratings. My Peltors with a NRR of 19db make gunshots much quieter than do my passive muffs with a NRR of 30db. Yet Illinois Gun Works is being fined because an instructor used superior hearing protection.
Heres another violation: A gun range instructor conducting shooter instruction was observed reaching down on the range floor to collect a loaded handgun cartridge. The employee was not wearing any hand protection such as gloves. The gun range floor was contaminated with lead. The gun had misfired and it required manual cycling of the barrel slide to remove the defective round which then fell on the gun range floor. (p. 22). This is absurd. Range floors are necessarily going to have lead dust on them. In the course of live fire instruction, there are inevitably going to be some misfeeds, which result in a round falling to the floor. You dont leave live ammunition lying on the floor. And if youre going to be helping students clear misfeeds (step 1: press the small button which releases the magazine so that it drops out of the gun), you can often do so better with bare hands with gloves. After any time on the shooting range, it is essential to wash hands thoroughly with cold water. The notion that picking up a round from the floor is some kind of special danger is ridiculous.
One of OSHAs suggestions for reducing instructor exposure to lead (p. 26): require the use of ammunition without lead primers and/or without lead bullets. But if youre teaching people how to use the guns which they actually own, those people need to use the kind of ammunition that they will actually shoot. Firearms can perform quite differently with different types of ammunition. Semi-autos in particular may have a much higher rate of misfeeds with one type of ammunition than with another; one of the important variables in this is how strongly the user holds the grip (a lighter grip can increase misfeeds, but a grip that is too tight can reduce accuracy). The best way for a user to find out which ammunition works most reliably with her particular gun, accounting for the way she actually holds it, is to try different types of ammunition. And its all the better if those tryouts have the assistance of an instructor. The OSHA safety suggestion to use only unusual and expensive types of ammunition would harm gun user safety.
Another violation: employees used Hoppes #9 solvent for cleaning guns (Hoppes makes lots of gun cleaning material and accessories), but Illinois Gun Works had not relabeled each Hoppes bottle to list all the hazardous chemicals therein. (pp. 54-55). Gun cleaners have solvents, and so the cleaning should be done in a place with good ventilation. But its hard to see much practical benefit in requiring a store to put new labels on every one of the scores of Hoppes bottles which employees will use during the course of a year.
Not everything in the OSHA citation is as senseless as the items described above. And gun ranges are certainly not the first business in the United States to find themselves being punished by OSHA for things that have little or nothing to do with employee safety. However, if the heavy fine and the citation against Illinois Gun Works are followed by similar enforcement against other gun ranges, there may be many fewer ranges soon.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pattern of OSHA nannying in which enterprises on the outs with Democrats and liberals are subjected to more scrutiny and/or harassment than those who benefit from Democrat crony capitalism.
...but Illinois Gun Works had not relabeled each Hoppes bottle to list all the hazardous chemicals therein.We used to have CDC (Control Data Corporation) mainframes back in the 1970s along with on-site customer engineers (CE's) to maintain them.
They NEVER give up. We must be EQUALLY relentless in pushing THEM back.
“The employee was not wearing any hand protection such as gloves. The gun range floor was contaminated with lead.”
There is no OSHA regulation about surfaces with lead, only airborne. Yes gloves would be nice, but I bet there were plenty of Wash Your hands signs.
The chemical labeling IS an OSHA standard for the workplace. If you buy a drum of Hoppes and split it up into smaller bottles, you must label each bottle with what the hazards are.
As for noise, it is possible to wear nice new headphones that have a 28 db attenuation rating, and still be overexposed to sound. Some of the electronic ones do not attenuate that much, some are only 20 db. You measure and integrate over a workday, with special tools for impulse noise. There are noise dosimeters that the worker wears, you get the total noise exposure from that, then you consider the personal protective equipment reduction. If the total exposure exceeds the limit with the headphones, it’s a violation.
The author should have looked up some of the regs he’s complaining about.
I went to my shooting range this morning...blew off 15 magazines of 45ACP from my new SR1911. There are 8 more 1911s to go through.
Tomorrow, it’s my M9A1 Beretta, the day after it’s my Remington 1911 R1 and so on.....I’ve got a bunch of older ammo that needs clearing out so I can replenish....
Suck it liberals.
“However, if the heavy fine and the citation against Illinois Gun Works are followed by similar enforcement against other gun ranges, there may be many fewer ranges soon.”
You may rest assured, that if the NRA doesn’t challenge these bastards and win in the Courts, it WILL be used as a template for future pursecution.
A win, actually, isn’t enough. OSHA should be hit with a harassment suit for trying to interfere with a constitutional right.
My ex wife thought my Hoppe’s #9 was aftershave for years.
At a minimum, you need the NFPA diamond symbol on each bottle, along with the name of the chemical and most hazardous materials.
Just because it’s a range does not make it less of a workplace.
BTW I remember when Hoppes had nitrobenzene as one of the solvents. Wow would it get powder residue, and it smelled great too. A bit more flammable and toxic, but what’s that next to a clean barrel?
Worked with 105s and 155s when I was in the Corps; don’t believe we were issued and particular brand of hearing protection, and when fire missions really got hot and fast I don’t recall any OSHA pukes around to tell us how to handle powder bags or projectiles, or how to clean our guns.
I still collect wheel weights and old automotive batteries to smelt in the back yard for casting material, allways have to add a little tin to harden the lead, makes for a cleaner bullet. I have used every solvent known to man to clean my weapons, Hoppes is good but I think chlorosolve does a better job.
63 years old and still no lead lead poisoning and haven’t grown a third eye yet from the chemicals. OSHA can kiss my ass, the faster they are defunded the better off the world will be.
PS: My hearing is just fine. I hear just what I want to; as for the chemical exposure I can smell a quail or chukar partridge 100 meters away.
I would bet that OSHA does not outline exactly what is required for compliance.
According to Eric Conn of Washington, D.C., head of the OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker & Green, a national labor and employment, and health care law firm.
Obamas administration changed the enforcement emphasis from the get-go, Conn says. He initially brought in a new Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who brought in a team that believes enforcement changes the way companies do business.
The agency seems to embrace a policy of shaming and embarrassing companies they find out of compliance, Conn says. When the agency issues press releases to notify the public about citations, Conn says hes never seen a public retraction if the citation is successfully challenged. Theyre using really ridiculous, scathing, unfair language like weve never seen before.
Once again, a bureaucratic agency making up stuff as they go along...pulling stuff out of their azz. Small businesses do not have the deep pockets to fight these scum.
The military issues hearing protection now. I was at a site guarded by Army kids, and they all had a little plastic container looped through a buttonhole or something. I asked about it, and one said they were earplugs. I joked, so you put in the earplugs when you are attacked? No, Sir, we take cover as appropriate, THEN put in the plugs, then identify the enemy and enemy location before returning fire. Oh, OK.
I agree with your OSHA feelings. Way over the top and beyond the task Nixon had for them.
You are exposing yourself to lead and chemicals and noise voluntarily, though. If you were doing it as part of your job so you had little choice about where, when, and how much you were exposed, you may feel differently.
I can see having an MSDS available, but relabeling every bottle is ridiculous.
I agree, if all you have is one chemical like Hoppe’s 9. But the regs are written for the case, typical in industry, where you have several.
I worked in a lab that used denatured ethanol, methanol, isopropyl alcohols, solder rosin, solder rosin cleaner, DI water, some sort of chlorinated stuff, plus various adhesives. Once you get them out of the 5 gal cans and into dispenser bottles, which one is which?
On top of the safety issues (different flammabilities and toxicities), there are production quality issues like putting the chlorinated stuff on a plastic lens, or trying to clean solder residues with DI water. So the lab had a label on each bottle. You can buy bottles pre-labeled if you are dealing with common stuff.
I don’t think there is a separate OSHA standard for a shooting range (and I deeply hope there never will be!). I think they apply the same published standards to all workplaces. There are special concerns, like trenching or the use of overhead lifts and scissor jacks, but they apply to the condition not the industry. When the inspector sees little bottles of some chemical all over, he applies the standard for “chemicals in the workplace”.
They could be dinged for hazmat if they chuck the patches in regular trash, too, since swabs and wipes become hazmat once they touch a hazardous material.
This is what OSHA expects, which you will never see at a range. Plus, if you put tape on the Hoppe’s bottle, it will get Hoppe’d off once the kero-EtOH gets to it. My big bottle lost it’s label and I’ve put various stickies on it.
At the place I’m currently contracted, even the maintenance staff has a label on everything, all those squirt bottles.
Swampsniper, I have a Hoppe’s #9 air freshener in my car!
If Hoppe’s is really dangerous a lot of us would be dead by now!
Absolutely! Even the Old Stuff with nitrobenzene never offed anyone. Kerosine, alcohol, ammonia, oleic acid, amyl acetate.
But to OSHA it’s a toxic workplace chemical, very flammable, makes you sick if you drink it, wrecks your eyes if you splash them.
I see a range like a living room, OSHA sees just another workplace to regulate. And a range IS a workplace, so it’s OSHA we need to change, not the ranges.
Here’s another Hoppes product, this one with methanol so it gets a Poison label. It smells nice, but I’d never drink it. Methanol will go through the skin.
Every OSHA inspection I've been party to was called by a disgruntled employee to knock the employer upside the head. If you can guess what it costs to have the Federal worker come to your place of business and do an inspection, that is approximately what your fine will be. They just look for enough minor stuff to run the total to at least that.
Any major fines can be negotiated down once you show compliance or that you have your "mind right".
OSHA can be zeroed out of the Federal budget and worker's safety returned to the states.
That has been my personal experience. Its a job that requires a attention whore personality that needs to be honored.
I would also question the number of employees at the workplace. IIRC, if the are fewer than 10 employees, then OSHA is basically barking up a tree when it comes to enforcing compliance with a fine. They would be fining a small business out of existance.
Hazmat for patches? Even hospitals can discard bandages and dressings with similar amounts of bodily fluids on them in normal trash without contravening OSHA regs. That doesn't seem fair. All-in-all, it seems like the range was targeted.