WHAT’S AT STAKE
Life can throw some “interesting” and totally unexpected challenges your way. One situation that many don’t see coming is a workplace injury or illness that could result in significant time off work.Read More
We hear it all the time: If people would only use their common sense, they wouldn’t get hurt on or off the job. But just who decides what is and isn’t common sense?
Safety managers try to make the point that “common sense” won’t tell you how to avoid many lethal workplace hazards. People are not born knowing this stuff and they do not learn it in everyday life.
“Common sense” refers to what the average person would think, know or figure out. Think of a 25-year-old guy who is not a deep thinker, living in suburbia, high school grad, watcher of television, not a big reader, learned workshop skills from Dad, has a busy life and lots of important things on his mind. In many companies or organizations, that’s your average worker.
A great deal of workplace safety is NOT common sense. Consider these examples:
What’s common sense to you may be anything but common to your workers. Assuming that people will automatically know what to do or not to do is asking for big trouble. Take time to spell out the hazards to your workers, even if they seem obvious to you.Read More
Here’s a Top 10 list you’ll want to avoid finding yourself on: OSHA’s Top 10 list of most frequently-cited violations between January and the end of September 2006.
During the 94th annual National Safety Congress and Expo in San Diego in early November, OSHA announced that 43,374 violations were included in its 2006 Top 10 list. Numbers from state-run plans aren’t included.
Here are the most recent numbers:
Some company owners view occupational safety and health fines as part of the cost of doing business. And a much smaller number don’t bother addressing issues raised by safety inspectors and fail to pay fines.
A logging company operating in White Swan, WA, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged failure to abate previously-cited safety concerns. It also faces repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations that collectively carry proposed penalties totaling $103,400.
The inspections were initiated as a follow-up to an OSHA fatality inspection conducted in 2005. Wheeler Logging Co. was cited for numerous violations. OSHA says the company neither responded to the 2005 citations nor paid the previous penalties.
The failure-to-abate citation addresses separation and protection of fuel storage tanks. Violations cited in 2005 have not been corrected. The repeat citations were issued for failure to provide OSHA with copies of OSHA 300 and 301 forms for reporting injuries and other incidents, and failure to label containers of hazardous chemicals.
The serious citation alleges violations related to machine guarding, compressed gas cylinders, electrical hazards and hazard communication. The other-than-serious citation alleges violations involving fire exits, fire extinguishers and electrical hazards.
An OSHA investigation alleges that 84 injury incidents involving lost workdays or restricted work activities at three plants were not recorded. Officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which operates the three facilities, contacted OSHA when they noticed discrepancies on the OSHA 300 Log used to record work-related injuries and illnesses. [Stone and Webster Construction’s maintenance division, Stoughton, MA. Release Number 07-87-ATL (006), Jan. 22, 2007].Read More
OSHA inspectors cite a company for 42 alleged serious safety and health hazards including blocked exit routes, deficiencies in an emergency response plan and lack of procedures, training and equipment to lock out power sources of machines before performing maintenance. Other alleged violations include unguarded moving machine parts, unsafe operation of forklifts, electrical hazards, lack of PPE, problems with chemical hazard communication and failure to provide medical exams and surveillance. [Penny Curtiss Baking Co., Syracuse, NY. Release No. 07-47-NEW/BOS 2007-011, Jan. 18, 2007].Read More
OSHA issued 26 willful, repeat and serious citations for alleged violations of standards, including bypassed or removed safety interlocks on machinery, exposed live electrical parts and lack of required hand protection. Other alleged violations include improper extension of fork trucks and no warning signs and asbestos awareness training for workers. Proposed penalties total $247,600. [Danaher Tool Group, doing business as Holo-Krome Inc., Release No. 06-2093-BOS/BOS 2006-366, Dec. 26, 2006].Read More
Thirty-year-old permissible exposure limits for substances aren’t sitting well with the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which has put a call for PEL (permissible exposure limit) updating at the top of its public policy issues for 2007-2008.
The association says OSHA’s PELs are one of the most basic tools needed to protect workers. These consensus-based limits indicate how long a person can be exposed to a particular substance without experiencing harmful effects. While science in this area has matured considerably since the 1970s, PELs have not been updated.
The AIHA says it is continuing to work with OSHA and others to reach a consensus on the best way to update the PELs.
Another major policy issue for the association is the need to improve the accuracy of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and to improve hazard communication for employers and employees. The AIHA supports adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
Nanotechnology, the science of developing and manufacturing electronic and other devices at the molecular level, is a third area of concern for the AIHA. It says that the occupational health and safety issues surrounding nanotechnology are not fully understood and much research is needed.
Here are some other important issues for the AIHA:
OSHA issued willful, serious and repeat violations for alleged safety infractions found during an inspection triggered by a worker fatality. A US Forest Service (USFS) employee fell 225 feet while performing maintenance at the USFS Awke Mountain telecommunications site near Yakutat, AK, in late August 2006. The willful citation alleges failure by the employer to provide adequate shelter or protection from the elements leading to employees attempting emergency egress (departure) down treacherous mountain terrain. The serious citation states that employees were exposed to environmental and fall hazards due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for inclement weather conditions. It also alleges that workers were not training in emergency equipment and preparedness for emergency egress situations. The repeat citation states that the forest service failed to inspect workplace operations on an annual basis or more often for work areas with high-risk operations. USFS was also cited for failure to maintain a log or summary of work-related injuries and illnesses for an establishment that had been in operation for more than one year. There is no proposed penalty in this case because OSHA cannot issue fines to other federal agencies. However, the problems revealed during the inspection must be fixed. [Release Number 07-118-SEA (07-09), Jan. 25, 2007].Read More
OSHA launched a comprehensive investigation after a company that manufactures pharmaceutical tablets and syrups did not adequately address a complaint relating to alleged employee exposure to air contaminants. It was also alleged that workers were covered in dust while performing work in the manufacturing area and when leaving the work area. Willful violations alleged by OSHA pertain to fall hazards, recordkeeping deficiencies, a lack of PPE, a lack of forklift training, inadequate machine guarding, improper electrical receptacles used in wet or damp locations and a lack of chemical hazard information training. Alleged serious violations include employee exposure to hazardous levels of methscopolamine nitrate (MSN), an inadequate respiratory protection program, a lack of eye/face protection, housekeeping and sanitation deficiencies, unguarded rotating shafts, confined space hazards, lockout/tagout hazards, unguarded live electrical parts, a lack of electrical cord strain relief and no chemical hygiene plan. [Provident Pharmaceuticals LLC, Colorado Springs, CO. Release Number OSHA 07-263-DEN].Read More