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 to 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.
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 job site 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 eyewear 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“.
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)
Here is a great resource for employers to ensure compliance with “OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.”
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.
I am sure you don’t need to be told how dangerous fireworks are. As we approach the 4th of July weekend, many of us are planning to include fireworks at our BBQ’s and family get-togethers. Since there are inherent dangers using fireworks let’s review some safety tips to keep you and those around you safe this 4th of July!
Be Aware of the Laws in Your Area
Before you start planning your fireworks block party, you should check your local municipality’s laws on fireworks. St. Louis city, county and Illinois have outright bans on the use of fireworks. Violators can face a $500.00 minimum fine or jail time for breaking these laws. Missouri statutes also detail that no person under the age of 17 should be in possession, handle, or ignite any fireworks.
Check Your Shopping List
The first thing to consider is the size of the fireworks you are purchasing. If you live in a residential area, it’s best to stick to smaller fireworks and fountains. Talk with the experts at the place of purchase and be conservative in the size and weight of each firework. The number of grams you buy determines the power of the explosion. Also, consider doing a ground show rather than launching explosives into the air, With a denser population, the risk of the fireworks hitting power lines, houses, trees or even people is higher.
Be Prepared for Safety
You’ve checked your local legislation and have chosen appropriate fireworks for your location — What’s next? Be prepared in case things go awry! Fireworks are known for their unpredictable nature which increases the risk of misfires and explosions. Have a fire extinguisher and running water readily available in case a mishap occurs. Fireworks start an average of 18,000 fires each year. Most accidents and injuries occur when inexperienced individuals ignite them or the fireworks are too large for them to safely deploy.
Many fireworks, when discharged, produce sounds at 150-170 decibels. Hearing damage can occur at only 110 decibels. Some of these effects may only last 24-48 hours, however it’s common to have lasting hearing damage or permanent tinnitus caused by the excessive levels of sound that fireworks produce. Ear protection is always recommended whenever you will be near a firework display especially for young children. To be safe, adults need to be at least 50-65 feet away from the blast, and children need a distance of at least 150 feet away.
Remember even sparklers can be dangerous! These seemingly innocent fireworks burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and account for 25% of the emergency room visits due to firework mishaps! Remember that before you hand them to children this 4th of July!
Drink After the Show, Please!
Another factor that causes higher volume of patients in the ER each year, are individuals who have gotten injured using fireworks while impaired. Using fireworks responsibly also means abstaining from alcohol before taking part in setting off fireworks.
Quick Tips and Facts
- Never hold lit fireworks in your hands
- Always have water or a fire extinguisher nearby
- Do not use fireworks while impaired
- Never try to relight a dud or un-exploded firework
- Spent fireworks should be soaked in water for several hours before discarding
- Never try to light more than one firework at a time
For more information on firework safety, take a look at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s site. Have a great 4th of July weekend and be safe!
As more and more states begin to loosen their stay at home restrictions, the question many business owners have right now is, “When can we get our employees back to work, and how do we do so, safely?” Many companies were able to transition to a remote working environment and subsequently have seen their employees really step up to the plate and become very productive working from home. As a result, numerous businesses are making the decision to allow their employees to continue to work from home even as regulations begin to allow a return to work. St. Louis County specifically stated that if a business has been able to efficiently operate remotely, they should consider allowing employees to continue to work from home for a little longer.
Getting Back on the Job
However, not all businesses can operate remotely and may be eager to get their employees back to work as soon as possible. First and foremost, those businesses must follow the protocol outlined in the applicable reopening guidelines as directed by their states or counties. This could include limited staff or patrons in the building, or enhanced cleaning and employee health screenings. In order to effectively follow these guidelines, employers may choose to allow employees back in waves, or stagger office hours, thus, limiting the exposure each employee has to other coworkers. This may be a great solution for the manufacturing industry where employees work closely to one another.
Safety and Sanitization
Not only may enhanced sanitization be required, it can also help ease employee’s minds when returning. Sanitizing shared or frequently used work surfaces multiple times per day will help reduce potential exposure to the virus. We recommend providing access to hand sanitizer or hand washing stations for employees. Many companies are requiring all employees who return to work, wear masks and/or gloves to help protect themselves. Though it is not a requirement, it’s recommended that if the organization is requiring employees to wear masks and gloves, those should be supplied by the company. Furthermore, management should also consider putting new policies in place for all employees returning to work, so staff is aware of these expectations and mandates prior to returning to work.
Health Screenings and Considerations
As businesses reopen, they may be required to perform daily health screenings under applicable legislation, or they may choose to do so in an effort to protect staff. These screenings can include daily health questions to confirm the employee is not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 and has not been around anyone with those symptoms. It could also include taking the temperatures of staff or visitors. This may cause an issue with privacy concerns, so employers should take great caution with those administering these tests and protecting the data. Employers do have the right to refuse work to anyone who is sick with COVID-19-like symptoms.
The environment employees are returning to may look very different from the environment they left a few months ago. The dynamic in the office will be a little foreign and helping employees get back into the swing of things and adjusting to the changes, is important. Reminding and enforcing guidelines on sanitization, masks, social distancing, and health screenings can help ease concerns of employees apprehensive of returning. However, there may be employees who are simply too scared to return, and these situations should be handled carefully. Overall, employers should strive to provide peace of mind to know staff and remind them the primary concern is employee safety.
As we continue to navigate this uncharted territory as a society, we will start to learn more about what works best and create new best practices for our businesses. Below are some helpful links from the CDC and OSHA that will help you make informed decisions on how to proceed with safely opening your businesses and getting back to work. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
- Pharmacy Benefit Managers: What Are They and How Can They Help?
- 5 Employee Wellness Benefits You Should Offer
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Prevention in Your Workplace
- How to Cope With Stress in Uncertain Times
- What Can Benefits Administration Technology Do For My Company?
- Electrical Hazards and Controls
- Flu Shots: What You Need To Know
- Flu Shots: What You Need To Know
- Top Cited OSHA Violations
- OSHA’s Top Ten Cited Violations of 2019