The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list each year of the most frequently cited violations. Knowledge of these violations can assist you in identifying and correcting similar risks in your company.
In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. OSHA citation fees increased seven-fold in 2016 and will continue to go up with annual inflationary adjustments. The increase from 2019 to 2020 was 1.8%.
If you assess your safety program with an emphasis on correcting these commonly cited hazards, and you will be safer and save money in penalty fees!
Here are a few tips for mitigating some of the most frequently cited hazards associated with 3 of OSHA’s Top 10 citations. For the complete list, please watch my webinar presentation.
↘ Fall Protection
Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry accounting for over 33% of fatalities. Almost two-thirds of fall accidents are from roofs, ladders, and scaffolds.
The construction industry is a unique place to work, with jobsite conditions changing from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. Fall exposures are frequent and varied. This safety challenge can be met with success if we pay attention to OSHA’s requirements under the “Fall Protection Standard (1926 Subpart M)”, “Scaffolds (1926 Subpart L),” and “Stairways and Ladders (1926 Subpart X)”.
Additional information and resources for Fall Protection can be found here:
↘ Eye and Face Protection
Conduct a hazard assessment and identify those work tasks that require eye and face protection to guard employees from hazards like flying particles, chemicals, or optical radiation. Your assessment must include evaluation of exposures to both the employee performing the task or job, as well as other employees that might be working in the same area. These assessments will help you choose the correct eye and/or face protection to help prevent eye and face injuries. Keep in mind, normal prescription eyewear does not provide protection from impact or penetration hazards. To provide appropriate protection, prescription eye wear must be manufactured per the requirements of the “American National Standards Institute, ANSI Z87.1”. Otherwise, you could provide “wear-over” type eye protection.
Eye and face protection requirements are addressed in OSHA’s Construction Industry under the “Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment Standard, 1926 Subpart E”, which can be found here:
↘ Hazard Communication
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) helps employers classify and identify chemical hazards and controls for safe use. It’s basically chemical safety in the workplace. Employers need to ensure that their employees understand the hazards presented by the chemicals they’re using, AND most importantly, what measures must be taken to prevent injury while using these chemicals.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each chemical must be readily available to all employees and updated as needed. SDS contain important information from the manufacturer regarding the chemical hazards and safeguards.
Watch for improperly labeled or unlabeled containers. Accurate and compliant labeling will contain the following information:
- The product identifier, i.e. the name of the chemical
- The manufacturers’ name and address
- A “Signal Word” to quickly ascertain the level of hazard, either “Danger” or “Warning.”
- A “Hazard Statement” that describes the nature of the hazard(s), e.g. “causes serious eye damage”
- A “Precautionary Statement(s)”, e.g. “wear appropriate eye protection”
- And a “Hazard Information” pictogram(s)
A great resource for employers to ensure compliance with “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard” can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html
Hazard identification and control are key components of a successful safety program. Taking a closer look at OSHA’ s annual list of their Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations and appropriate measures to avoid them will help you in your ongoing safety efforts. For more information please click the links below to watch the webinar or download the slide presentation.
Navigating the different types of leave available for employees can quickly get confusing. FMLA, ADA, Company Leave, FFCRA, PTO, STD, LTD – it’s a sea of acronyms, each with their own set of rules and guidelines that often overlap or weave together. Keeping track of the various types of leave available can be challenging, but employers would be best suited to strategize which leaves may be applicable to them and develop policies around them. Because employees will inevitably need to take time off, employers need to have a basic knowledge of laws and policies that protect both the employee and protect the company.
Types of Leave
Generally, when looking at the wide variety of time the employee can take off, employers should understand that there are two main functions of defining leave: How does the employee receive pay and How long must the employer hold the employee’s job and/or benefits? Both of these items are very clearly defined in the federal FMLA regulations applicable to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. Outside of the standard FMLA, employers are encouraged to have a company leave policy which defines these same benefits.
Where FMLA protects the employee for not only their own health condition, but that of their immediate family member, the ADA may protect just the employee by providing a reasonable accommodation, which could include a short-term leave of absence. The ADA doesn’t require employers to hold the employee’s job or their benefits nor does it require continuation of pay. However, the employee may be eligible to use Short-Term or Long-Term Disability along with company Paid Time Off, Sick Time and or Vacation time during this absence.
Because these leaves can stack together, employers need to closely evaluate every situation to determine what different leave options may apply.
What to Do Now
Take a moment to review your current employee handbook to ensure that you have a clearly defined FMLA policy if applicable. Even if you are subject to FMLA, all companies should also have a leave policy defined for those employees who are either not yet eligible for FMLA or where FMLA doesn’t apply. In that company leave policy, the employer can define whether the leave is paid or unpaid and how long the employee is allowed to remain on the company benefit plan during leave. Additionally, the employer can define how long they will hold the employee’s job during leave. It is important to be consistent with these guidelines to prevent discriminatory practices.
Successful workplace wellness programs focus on behavior change and provide employees with the tools they need to move toward and maintain healthy behaviors. Every company has different needs and different starting points. But creating a wellness program from scratch doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
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