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Friday, November 8, 2013

Most common OSHA violations

Workers are protected from hazardous situations via OSHA regulations
Employers must comply with OSHA protections
By Jason Kane 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for making employers comply with regulations on worker safety, and inspectors make regular trips to inspect job sites. A popular joke about OSHA is that it is not a small town in Texas, but no one thinks it’s funny when a citation occurs, or worse, an accident.

Regulations can give employers guidelines for worker safety in potentially hazardous situations, but many are ignored. Employers have the responsibility to protect workers in the workplace, and employees are entitled to have safe conditions where they work.

As you would expect, there are certain violations that tend to come up more than others. Fortunately, your business has the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others to prevent citations and accidents.

1. Fall protection - Guardrail, fall arrest and safety net systems are required to prevent falls, a frequent source of accidents on construction job sites and in manufacturing facilities.

2. Hazard communication - Employers are obligated to inform employees about the presence of hazardous chemicals in a workplace, and failure to do so will result in a citation.

3. Scaffolding - Stringent guidelines regulate the use of support systems for scaffolding and for the dimensions of materials used in the construction of platforms.

4. Respiratory protection - Prevention of atmospheric contamination is the purpose of providing respiratory protection from harmful dust, smoke, vapors and gases, sprays and fogs.

5. Electrical wiring methods - Bonding that ensures electrical continuity is required in cable trays, sheaths and armor as well as metal raceways, frames and fittings to safely conduct electricity without causing harm to workers.

6. Powered industrial trucks - Forklift and platform lift trucks that are widely used in manufacturing facilities and on construction job sites can cause accidents when they do not comply with OSHA regulations. Guidelines apply to motorized hand trucks and to those that are powered by electric or internal combustion engines, including the design and maintenance of equipment.

7. Ladders - Regulations indicate the specific weight loads that ladders must support. Falls from ladders are a frequent cause of accidents and injuries.

8. Lockout/logout  - Servicing of machines is required to prevent them from unexpectedly starting up and putting workers at risk of injury. The regulation includes the release of stored energy as well.

9. Electrical general requirements - Hazards that can cause death or physical injury are often associated with faulty electrical installations, and OSHA regulations disallow conditions that are harmful to workers.

10. Machine guarding - Regulations that enforce protection from flying chips, sparks and rotating parts include the use of barrier guards, tripping devices, safety devices and other preventive methods.

Making workplaces safe for workers

Knowing these violations is only the first step towards ensuring workplace safety.  The U.S. Department of Labor defines the responsibilities that employers have for providing a safe workplace for workers. Employers who want to ensure complete compliance with OSHA regulations should also designate a safety officer whose duties are directed at inspecting a workplace and making corrections to improper practices as needed.

About the author: Jason Kane is a blogger for Fed Steel. He is a staunch advocate of workplace safety in all industries.

Image license: TACLUDA, RGBStock royalty free