Aug 10, 2012
It is OSHA’s job to regulate safety in the workplace. Failing to meet their standards can result in citations and hefty fines. But a visit from OSHA doesn’t have to bring on feelings of anxiety and fear for employers.
If employers take the necessary steps towards compliance, they can rest easy when OSHA comes knocking.
Here are the top 10 ways to avoid OSHA fines:
- Being Prepared – In most cases, OSHA won’t show up without a reason. Possible reasons for a visit to your jobsite include: a fatality or serious accident, employee complaint of unsafe conditions, and follow-up inspections.
- Hazard Communication (HazCom) – Failure to maintain adequate HazCom programs is one of the most common citations nationwide. The fundamental of this standard is that employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace have a right to know about the hazards and how to protect themselves. Some compliance with the HazCom standard involve having a list of all hazardous materials on your jobsite, training in the proper use of PPE, and MSDS sheets on site.
- Training - Failure to meet PPE requirements, which includes offering required PPE and training to employees as well as written certification, is also a common citation. Simply taking the time to train employees will not only prevent injuries, it will save you money in the long run.
- Paperwork - OSHA views maintaining paperwork as critical to safe operations. Inspectors are likely to review written HazCom or PPE program materials, training documentation and more. By having paperwork readily available, you are showing that you care about your safety program.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls – Because of the seriousness of fall-related injury, OSHA takes fall protection very seriously. Employers must be sure to properly install fall protection equipment, adequately train employees in the use of fall protection equipment, and use safe work practices.
Citations involving ladders have only recently became common. Data suggests that more and more people are using ladders when they shouldn’t. Ladders that are broken or bent should not be used – ever. Working on and around ladders can be hazardous, and proper is a must.
- Ergonomics – Overexertion is a leading cause of work-related injury, and is unique in that is can happen over a long period of time. Ergonomics is like designing the job around the worker through feasible engineering controls. This can greatly reduce the risk of injury – and an OSHA inspection – in your facility.
- Lockout/Tagout – If your employees operate any heavy machinery or equipment that needs to be shut down before performing any routine maintenance or service, you are required to implement a lockout/tagout program. Failure to comply can be costly – up to $7,000 per violation.
- Engineering Controls – Engineering controls are used to remove a hazard or place a barrier between the worker and the hazard. Examples include ventilation systems, sound-dampening materials to reduce noise levels, and safety interlocks. These things may come at an initial cost, but will be well worth it in the long run.
- Administrative Controls – These work practice controls are changes in procedures with the goal of reducing duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to hazards in the workplace. Examples include rotating workers to avoid repetitive motion injuries, requiring breaks when working in hot environments, and proper housekeeping.
- Research – If you are unsure if your facility is in compliance with any OSHA standards, the web has a ton of useful information. OSHA’s website has a variety of materials, supplies, handbooks and articles that will help you to avoid violations during an inspection.
On any jobsite, accidents can and do happen. But by taking the proper steps, you can work with OSHA to ensure all employees work in safe and healthy conditions in order to prevent injuries.
Dec 8, 2010
Of all the potential risks at your average workplace and working environment, you’d have thought you’d be safest parked in a comfortable chair in a warm office behind a desk.
Not so according to several studies in the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. Sitting between six and ten hours a day or for two hours unbroken can lead to some very serious health problems posing a similar health risk to that of a smoker.
Increased health problems include:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Heart attacks and heart disease
- Musculoskeletal pain and disorders
And the following are a few quotes from various articles:
People who sit without moving for 10 hours a day – and for at least two hours without getting up – are three times more at risk of an embolism or deep vein thrombosis than those who do not, a study by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand suggests. [via]
Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting (outside of work) were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than three hours a day. Men who sat more than six hours a day (also outside of work) were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than three hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level. Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality. [via]
Doctors say the evolution of technology has impacted the way we use our bodies. Humans have moved from the active life of being hunter-gatherers to becoming agriculturalists. The Industrial Revolution moved us to factories and the technological revolution landed us behind desks and into the culture of sitting too much.
“Sitting has become the most common human behavior, literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that sitting has become a new form of smoking. Smoking was once so common that people were reluctant to see the health hazard it posed. [via]
Quite sobering stuff!
Oct 8, 2010
In Canada the Alberta Government has recently launched a workplace safety database so that current and prospective employees can check on their employer’s workplace safety records.
As reported in the St. Albert Gazette:
“It is so Albertans have a good idea of their employer or prospective employer’s record on health and safety,” said Chris Chodan with Alberta Employment and Immigration.
Gil McGowan with the Alberta Federation of Labour said the government said the website would be a one-stop shop for people interested in their employer’s record, but that is not what has been delivered.
“What we got instead was a site that hides employment safety records behind a wall of confusing and downright useless information.”
The site allows people to search by industry, company name and city and provides information on companies using data from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).
McGowan said the problem with loss time claim rates is that employers report them and when they rise, so do their WCB premium rates.
He said while they don’t have firm statistics, his group has heard many reports of employers putting employees on modified duties or otherwise not reporting loss hours to keep their claims down.
“You shouldn’t be using statistics that can be so easily compromised.“
McGowan said they would like to see provincially issued stop-work orders and stop-use orders listed on the site and would also like to see inspection reports that the province does at worksites as part of the database.
Chodan said stop-work orders and inspection reports could be added over time, but for right now they went with the loss time claim numbers because they are universal.
‘They are known as a universally recognized statistic,” he said. “It is a standard that has to be reported.”
McGowan has also cited many examples of workplace accidents or charges that aren’t listed on the site. He said the information in some cases just isn’t there for some companies or is harder to find in other cases.
“It simply doesn’t have the information on the website that workers need.”
Chodan said in some cases there are multiple companies at a site where a fatality or accident occurred. He said in other cases one company can be charged for an accident that affected an employee of another firm.
“The company that gets charged might not be the actual employer.”
Is this something you’d be interested in seeing over here in the States or is it too much Government intervention and regulation?
Aug 19, 2010
Written on Friday, November 13, 2009
There are approximately one million eye injuries in the workplace every year. This may seem like a lot, but it does show the importance of proper eye protection and safety regulations in the workplace. Although people are required to use goggles, face shields, and safety glasses, accidents are still a possibility. When accidents occur, it is imperative that an eyewash station is available to all employees. They should be positioned in a manner that eye emergencies can be treated within seconds.
There are several OSHA regulations that require businesses to have eyewash stations when employees could be exposed to corrosive materials. Eyewash stations must be in compliance with ANSI Z358.1-2004. There is a voluntary standard that offers guidance for the proper design, use, performance, installation, and maintenance of eyewash stations.
There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when positioning eyewash stations in the workplace. A business must first select an eyewash station. Before doing so, the work area and injury potential should be assessed. The layout of a building will play a large role in where an eyewash station is placed. All stations are to be placed within 10 seconds walking distance from when an injury occurs. The area should remain free and clear from objects that will block the accessibility of the station if there is an emergency. Water used in an eyewash station should be lukewarm or tepid. There must be at least 15 minutes of water flow.
Now we will talk about the types of eyewash stations. Plumbed eyewash stations draw their water directly from plumbing pipes connected to a main water source. These require ANSI weekly activation in order to maintain proper operation. It also flushes out buildup that often forms when water sits in the pipes. If weekly activation is not performed, mold, bacteria, and sediment can build up in the pipes. You have the option of a tank style eyewash station that is self contained. These stations use tap water mixed with a preservative. A preservative will reduce the build up of bacteria. The preservative will usually expire after 6 months, so this type of system will need maintenance every six months. At this time, the units will be cleaned and refilled. There are self-contained eyewash stations that do not require the use of tap water. There is also no mixing involved in the process. Purified water is used in a clean room environment.
Some eyewash stations use saline solution to mimic tears that are produced in the eye. The solutions for cartridge bases eyewash stations have a shelf life of approximately 24 months. These models can be installed in minutes. A big benefit to these is that the eye station is portable. They can easily be moved if necessary.
It is very important to know all guidelines related to eyewash stations in the workplace. OSHA has very strict guidelines when it comes to eye safety.
Aug 19, 2010
Written on Thursday, August 13, 2009
There are many forms of MRSA that can threaten us at any time. Although this is true, MRSA is usually very treatable. There are steps that you can take to lower your risk when it comes to MRSA staff infection prevention.
The best advice still given for any disease and germ prevention is washing your hands. Although many people do, they do not wash well enough to kill bacteria. You need to make sure to wash all surfaces of your hands. You need to scrub for a minimum of 30 seconds, while getting the bottoms and tops of your hands, between your fingers, inside your nails, and around your nail beds. Always remember to wash after using the toilet and before you eat.
Whether it is at home or in your work setting, make sure that toilet handles and faucets are regularly cleaned. They need to be sanitized with an antibacterial cleaner. Some disinfectants will kill MRSA that lives on surfaces. Anything that you touch often, makes contamination possible.
Since MRSA is such an infectious disease, you want to always keep you personal care items, well, personal. Don’t share items such as razors and tweezers. The only way that you can guarantee that your items remain clean are to keep them to yourself. You can not look at someone and know if they have MRSA. In fact, many people do not even know that they are MRSA carriers.
If you go to the gym, utilize work out equipment at home, or in your work place, make sure to wipe down a machine before you use it. MRSA grows very easy in moist areas that tend to be warm. This is a place where people are going to sweat more times than not.
When you are around a person with MRSA, you should always wear gloves. I na hospital a person will have a sign on their door that you must take the proper contact precautions. Gowns and gloves will help keep any infectious fluids or contaminated items away from your body.
Although you wear protective clothing, hand washing should still be practiced when leaving an area that contains someone with MRSA.
If you know that you have MRSA, learn the precautions that you need to take to make sure that you are lessoning your chance of spreading the infection to someone else. MRSA typically is not a major problem unless you work in a healthcare setting.
Other than washing your hands and not sharing your personal items, make sure to cover any open sores or wounds. This is the perfect entry point for a MRSA infection. This would be the same if you know you have MRSA. Covering your wounds will make it less likely for the wound’s puss and fluids to spread the infection to others.
MRSA is very treatable if caugh early. If you take the neccesaary precautions to protect yourself, you can ensure that you will remain MRSA free. This not only keeps yo healthy, but also those around you.