Are Workers Losing Lives and Limbs to Satisfy Production Goals?

In an article written by Issac Arnsdorf and co-published with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ProPublica highlights the conflict between worker safety and health and production goals at chicken processing plants

At first glance, Fieldale Farms, a chicken processing facility in Gainesville, Georgia, appears to be focused on safety. A big sign outside of the facility promotes the slogan “Think Safe, Work Safe.”

Approximately 1,900 workers are employed by Fieldale Farms, and according to public records obtained by ProPublica, workers there probably have a higher than average chance of losing fingers and even their lives as a result of their work for Fieldale Farms.

In 2009, OSHA cited Fieldale Farms with 22 alleged safety and health violations and proposed fines of $73,275. The violations included two repeat violations – for failure to provide standard guardrails for open-sided platforms and using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for fixed wiring; 18 … Read more...

Fall Protection Tops List of Top 10 Most Cited Violations

Fall protection once again tops the list of OSHA’s most cited violations, followed by hazard communications and scaffolding violations.

The National Safety Council and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2019 in San Diego at the National Safety Congress.

Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA directorate of enforcement programs, presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor as part of the NSC 2019 Congress and Expo, the world’s largest annual gathering of safety professionals.

The rankings for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations typically vary little from year to year; Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) tops this year’s list for the ninth consecutive year. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102), a newcomer to last year’s list, remains in the No. 10 spot. Like the other most cited violations, fatalities and injuries related to fall … Read more...

A History of Labor Day’s Impact on Health and Safety

September 2, 2019 Marks the 125th Anniversary of Labor Day 

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American and Canadian workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our countries. 

From the events that shaped the start of the labor movement to the often-tragic events that shaped workplace safety and health, the contributions and sacrifices of people made over the past 125 years has shifted worker safety from reactive to preventative.  

The future, though, is predictive and through connected people, processes, and “things,” technology has the potential to create a zero/zero future: zero worker harm/zero worker deaths. 

While past events like the founding of Labor Day and disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire have helped shape the practice of health, safety and industrial hygiene, recent events – such … Read more...

Keeping Employees Safe + Sound: Best Practices

Connecting workers via mobile apps and software systems put safety at their fingertips 

Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.  

Successful EHS management systems identify, manage and eliminate workplace hazards before they cause injuries and illnesses for employees, damage assets and create environmental issues. August 12-18, 2019 is dedicated to Safe + Sound Week this year. Safe + Sound Week is a good time to get your EHS management system started, energize your existing program and provide a chance to recognize EHS successes. 

14 U.S. Workers Killed Each Day 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of worker deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased by more than 60 percent in the past four decades since the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was passed. However, every year, more than 5,000 … Read more...

OSHA Forecast Sees Inspections, WV Measures – and Even Drones – On the Rise

A leadership vacuum, a surprising increase in enforcement activity, and the potential “rise of the drones” all characterize OSHA as it closes the books on 2018 and moves into 2019.

These were some of the observations that representatives of Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm specializing in occupational health and safety issues, put forth during a recent webinar. Hazards, injuries, prevention measures, preparedness, preventing fatalities and general occupational safety and health reigned top of mind while looking into the coming 2019 year.

In reviewing key OSHA developments in 2018, Eric Conn, Chair of the firm’s OSHA Workplace Safety Practice Group, said the most notable event of 2018 was a non-event – namely, the lack of an appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “We’re nearly two years into the Trump administration and there is still [no one in the role],” he said. “We have … Read more...

OSHA: Final Recordkeeping Rule Protects Sensitive Employee Information

On January 25th 2019 the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule, “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” in an effort “to protect worker privacy.” The rule eliminates the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year.

In a press release, OSHA notes: “By preventing routine government collection of information that may be quite sensitive, including descriptions of workers’ injuries and body parts affected, OSHA is avoiding the risk that such information might be publicly disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This rule will better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular worker by removing the requirement for covered employers to submit their information from Forms 300 … Read more...

How Temporary and Contract Workers Affect Your Safety Program

Employers can enjoy many benefits from hiring temporary workers, contractors and on-call workers — a group that is collectively known as “non-permanent” workers. The flexibility that allows them to quickly respond to changing workloads is a key driver, as is the ability to bring in specialized help and expertise on an as-needed basis for tasks such as confined-space work.

The arrangement offers benefits for workers, too; many who work on a contract or contingent basis have chosen to do so and prefer to work this way.

Unfortunately, organizations that have abused the system of temporary and contract labor have drawn scrutiny from regulatory and enforcement agencies, casting a shadow over the system’s benefits. Employers must be aware of new regulations that aim to ensure the health and safety of temporary and contract workers, such as OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative.

Along with compliance, employers must stay up to speed on other … Read more...

Construction Abatements, Data Collection OSHA’s Chief Challenges: Report

Obtaining reliable data about workplace injuries is hindering OSHA’s efforts to determine how best to use its resources to help protect U.S. workers’ health and safety, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DoL) Office of Inspector General. This challenge is particularly acute in high-risk industries like forestry, fishing, agriculture, mining and construction.

The report, titled “Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Labor,” details challenges faced by all arms of the DoL, of which OSHA is a part.

The situation, the DoL writes, is exacerbated by underreporting of injuries by employers. Without reliable data regarding workplace injuries, OSHA “lacks the information needed to effectively focus inspection and compliance efforts on the most hazardous workplaces.”

One former OSHA official, however, believes the agency already receives more than enough data to prioritize its actions.

“Most employers over-report, not under-report. They put stuff down … Read more...

Making Sense of OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirements

If you’re a health and safety professional responsible for reporting your company’s injury and illness records to OSHA, you can be forgiven for being a bit confused. After all, the rules have seemed to be changing faster than the autumn leaves.

In May 2016, OSHA added another layer of complexity when it published the final rule, titled Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses. Also referred to as the Electronic Recordkeeping Rule, it required certain establishments to annually submit injury and illness data to OSHA through an online portal. This data would be posted to a public website with the intent of “shaming” employers into an increased focus on workplace safety. Despite objections, the rule’s implementation proceeded, though not without delays and modifications.

Then, a proposed rule published in July 2018 aimed to simplify the requirements and limit the scope of the rule, but its core remains intact. Significant … Read more...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Machine Guarding

The importance of machine guarding is a matter of life and limb.

Improperly guarded machinery and powered motorized industrial equipment that hasn’t been effectively locked out exposes workers to any number of lethal hazards that can result in serious injuries, such as amputations of limbs, or even death.

Machine guards are those safety features connected to industrial equipment that shields or provides a barrier cover for a machine’s hazardous areas to prevent harmful contact between dangerous moving components and body parts. Machine guards might also barricade hazards such as chips or sparks created from the operation of industrial equipment. These devices protect people from injuries as they are working near or are operating equipment.

Machine guarding is included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations. When OSHA determines that a hazard is pervasive, it may create a special enforcement program, called … Read more...