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...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Powered Industrial Trucks

What’s the driving force behind many industries around the globe?

Powered industrial trucks, of course – the forklifts or lift trucks used throughout many industries to move materials by raising, lowering or removing large or multiple smaller objects stacked on pallets or in boxes, crates or other containers.

As it is with all moving machinery, there’s high risk in using and being around such equipment. Because of that, Powered Industrial Trucks are included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations.

There are many types of powered industrial trucks and each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck.

Workplace type and conditions are also factors … Read more...

The consequences of non-compliance

In the U.S., companies that violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations can end up paying a variety of prices, some that are definite and simple to calculate, and others that are less quantifiable, but real nevertheless. 

Within the former category, OSHA defines six types of violations:  

  • De Minimis – The least serious kind of violation, this is a technical one that has no direct impact on health or safety. OSHA does not issue citations or fines for such infractions.  
  • Other-than-Serious – A violation for something that is related to health or safety but would not result in serious injury or death. An employer not posting required safety documentation in a work area is an example. Fines of up to $12,934 per violation are possible. 
  • Serious – Issued when an employer that has knowledge of an existing hazard that could impact employees’ health or safety yet does nothing to
Read more...

OSHA’s Most Common Citations: Respiratory Protection Programs

It’s all about breathing easy.

In this ongoing series of blogs about the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association’s (OSHA’s) list of 10 most cited standards, we now come to the issue of respiratory protection programs.

Sometimes, the best way to protect workers against airborne chemicals in the workplace is to use respirators. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as buying some facemasks out of the respiratory protection catalog and handing them out to workers. A respiratory protection program requires a fair bit of legwork to create and implement.

You may need a respiratory protection program (29 CFR 1910.134) if your workers are exposed to a hazardous level of an airborne contaminant, and their exposure cannot be reduced below the OSHA permissible exposure limit through the use of engineering controls (for example, substitution or mechanical ventilation), or if workers are exposed to oxygen-deficient atmospheres. You may also require workers to … Read more...