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OSHA’s Top 10 Standards Violations and How to Avoid Them

The list hasn’t changed much in recent years, but it highlights the need to improve safety on the plant floor.

Each year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards violations. The list for fiscal year 2013 is almost identical to the previous year, highlighting the need for to protect workers, reduce fines and improve a company’s image and retain workers. In fact, International Paper CEO John Faraci told Chief Executive that the first thing he checks each day is IP’s safety record for the previous day.

Following are the top ten most cited OSHA standards violations, in order of their frequency, for 2013.

1. Fall Protection

Anytime a person is working at an elevated height, they are at potential risk of falling. Barriers such as pivot safety gates, overhead safety gates, and double-drop safety gates provide continuous protection at open areas on elevated work platforms. Plants should audit all elevated levels of its facility and correct deficiencies.

2. Hazard Communication

Many employers find it difficult to create a compliant HazCom program. Most frequently, they lack written programs, fail to include enough information in written programs or don’t provide proper training. The second key step is to properly train employees. Many companies train employees with canned presentations that don’t address the job-specific hazards they encounter, which leaves room for mistakes and injury.

3. Scaffolding

Each year OSHA statistics show that more than 4,500 workers are injured in scaffolding-related accidents, and more than 60 accidents a year are fatal. Under OSHA standards, all scaffolds are required to have a 10-foot trigger height for fall protection. There is also a 36-inch minimum guardrail height where fall arrest systems are the primary fall protection, and a 38-inch minimum guardrail height where a guardrail is the primary fall protection.

4. Respiratory Protection

A respirator is required to protect employees from breathing contaminated or oxygen-deficient air when effective engineering controls are not feasible. It is essential that the correct respirator is chosen based on the environment in which the employee is working. Factors that must be taken into consideration are particulate matter, vapors and oxygen-deficiency. All respirators must be certified by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Certified respirators will be labeled as such.

The employer must provide a medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator before the employee is fit tested or required to use the device. The employer is also required to provide for the cleaning and disinfecting, storage, inspection and repair of respirators.

5. Electrical, Wiring Methods, Components and Equipment

This is one area where violations doubled from 2012, emphasizing the need to reevaluate electrical safety. This specific regulation is quite broad and covers many topics including the use of conductors, cable trays, insulators, enclosures, switches, wet locations and flexible cords and cables. To comply with this standard and to keep your workers safe, enclosures, raceways, cable trays, fittings and other non-conductors made from metal used for grounding must be properly bonded to be able to handle potential fault currents.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks

Also known as forklifts or lift trucks, industrial trucks, come in many variations, and each presents different operating hazards. According to OSHA, the most common lift truck accidents include being struck by falling loads, driving lift trucks off loading docks, being struck by a lift truck, or falling while on elevated pallets and tines. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate the vehicle safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation as specified by OSHA.

7. Ladders

One fifth of reported fatal falls on the job are from ladders, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ladder accidents are usually caused by a lack of adequate training on ladder safety, poor condition of the ladder, improper ladder selection and incorrect ladder positioning. While on a ladder, employees should keep tools in a tool belt to keep their hands free for climbing. Heavy and bulky objects should only be brought up after the climber has reached the top, and signs or barricades should be used to warn workers below of the potential for falling objects.

8. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

The lack of proper training is the main reason lockout/tagout (LOTO) continues to appear on OSHA’s top ten list. Other key mistakes include overlooking key control procedures, using stock safety padlocks, and failing to perform annual reviews of their procedures. Experts at Master Lock recommend implementing a “One employee, one lock, one key” concept. Assuring that each employee has their own, assigned lock and key can help prevent accidental removal of locks.

9. Electrical Systems Design

Electrical equipment is necessary for all jobs, and many maintenance personnel are forced to make do with what they have on hand to get the job done. Unfortunately, the end result does not always meet code and can create a dangerous work environment for employees.

Jon Semancik, Product Manager at Ericson Manufacturing, a company focused on safe lighting, power and engineering solutions recommends that each facility have at least one dedicated expert on facility safety compliance, and that this person is responsible for trainings on proper electrical maintenance practices.

10. Machinery and Machine Guarding

Common machine guarding mistakes include improper maintenance, the intentional removal of the safeguarding devices to increase production and the lack of a formal risk assessment. Experts say that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to machine guarding. Where some situations may require complete enclosure with a machine guarding door, others would be better served by a presence sensing device like a light curtain.

Read:
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