Staying Off the OSHA Naughty List
Are You Following the Rules?
Making sure your company is following all regulations and reporting procedures set forth by OSHA can be a daunting task. How do you keep up with changing requirements? Is every clause of each standard being followed exactly? If not, you’re at risk of being cited for a violation.
While it can be an intimidating process, it’s an important one. OSHA exists to keep you safe, your family safe, and your employees safe. With the holiday season upon us, we want to make sure every employee goes home safe to their loved ones.
While the safety of employees is of utmost importance, being on OSHA’s “naughty list” involves more than jeopardizing worker safety. It results in citations and fines–typically in significant dollar amounts, for the company at the fault. Knowing how to fix those citations is critical. OSHA will inspect your facility again, and expects the proper protocol to be in place when they do.
Master the OSHA Top 10
Maybe you haven’t had an inspection by OSHA for some time, or you’re unaware whether you’re following the standards exactly as written. A good place to start when assessing your facility is by evaluating the OSHA Top 10 list. Every year, this Top 10 list is published and updated with the most frequently cited violations among industries. It also includes the number of incidents per category that occurred. It’s astounding how many of these incidents could have been prevented if someone had taken the time to be aware of the safety violation, and the importance of fixing the situation.
OSHA has announced the preliminary list of Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2017. Since these are the most common violations across the United States, let the Top 10 list serve as your safety checklist when assessing your facility. If you are in violation, chances are it’s probably in one of the categories below.
Let’s look at a few of the top contenders in further detail and the actions you can take to ensure workplace safety and OSHA compliance.
Identifying Fall Risks
Fall risks continue to make numerous appearances on the OSHA Top 10 list year after year, proving it’s an area with room for significant improvement. Many of these citations are found in residential construction but occur in other industries as well. Four of the ten most frequently cited violations have to do with hazards at height:
- General requirements for fall protection (#1)
- Scaffolding (#3)
- Ladders (#6)
- Training requirements for fall protection (#9)
Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Are there ways you could remove a fall risk entirely and “engineer” the risk out? Use covers for open holes, provide guardrails and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform. Make safety equipment available, such as harnesses, and encourage its proper use. Are you familiar with the current regulations for fall arrest systems and proper ladder use? Have your employees been trained to identify fall hazards and the correct way to use fall protection equipment? All are frequently cited by OSHA.
A violation pertaining to hazard communication could be as simple as not having a hazard communication program. Employers that use hazardous chemicals are required to have a written hazard communication program.
A company could also be cited for not properly labeling all containers of hazardous materials according to the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) of Classification and Labeling, or not having MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) files on hand that outline the health and safety hazards of chemicals. MSDS are readily available from the chemical manufacturer. Training is another key component of hazard communication to avoid a citation in hazard communication. Make sure employees understand the expectations of labeling and handling they need to maintain to comply.
Training is Key
Ensuring your employees are properly trained and up to date with current OSHA regulations is the best way to avoid violations and citations. Staying informed and aware is key! Don’t assume employees know proper hazardous material handling or ladder safety. Almost all safety accidents could have been prevented if the proper measures had been in place. Keep safety at the forefront and emphasize its importance to ensure every employee goes home safe this holiday season.