Research shows that more than one-third of workplace injuries occur within the first year of employment. Those injuries account for one-third of workers’ compensation claim costs. “Safety training programs and practices should start before an employee’s first day and continue throughout the employee’s time at an organization,” said Chris Hayes, of Travelers Insurance. Clearly, it is critical that employers have clearly communicated practices and safety training programs in place. New employees must know who to go to with safety questions and concerns. Further, it is imperative that they are empowered to stop work with out fear of reprisal.
5 Ways to Equip All Employees
Integrate Safety into the Hiring Process
Onboard and Continuously Train Employees
Conduct a Job Safety Analysis
Implement an Accident Analysis Program
Continue Supporting Employees Throughout Their Careers
It is vitally important to show new employees that your company takes safety seriously. For example, consider making it part of the performance evaluations for supervisors. “The most common mistake is not including risk and safety/health goals in the performance evaluation process for managers,” Scott Smith, director of safety management at Selective Insurance. “Having risk and safety/health goals for managers that impact their performance evaluation sets expectations and establishes the organization’s safety culture.” Another “significant, commonly observed mistake is management’s failure to intervene when they observe employees failing to follow sound risk management or safety,” he added.
Additionally, how you manage injuries can significantly impact your business. Employers should be prepared before an injury takes place. Including having a plan that helps injured employees return to work as soon as medically appropriate. For example, a transitional duty program can help employees remain engaged and connected at work during their recovery.
When workers are injured, it might be possible to temporarily assign them to different tasks that are less physically demanding. “There are pros and cons to having an injured employee perform in a light-duty position while recovering,” Smith said. “They can stay engaged in the business during this interim period, which might help with overall absenteeism and maintain positive employee morale, as remaining workers will see the employee returning to work.”
A Transitional Duty Program Can Help in 3 Ways:
Employees to receive prompt, quality medical care.
Keep employees at work, allowing the company to get meaningful, productive work done while the employee recovers.
The employee, employee’s medical provider, employer and insurance professional to work together to help the employee to return to work as soon as possible.
Following an injury on the job, it is important to have a plan for returning employees to work as soon as they are medically able to return.
According to Rich Ives, vice president of business insurance claims at Travelers Insurance, “We stress to our customers the importance of maintaining contact with the injured employee, checking on how they are feeling and setting up a modified duty program as they recover,” he added. “By focusing on what they can do, rather than on their pain or limitations, conversations about their return to work can help an injured employee stay engaged, feel productive and look ahead.”
At NSC we provide a safety orientation course that is an excellent resource for new hires in any industry. It is designed to foster positive safety attitudes and raise awareness of potential workplace hazards and emergencies. Safety in the workplace starts with having the right attitude about safety and taking the right steps to prevent safety incidents. This training course is designed to make you aware of just a few of the possible hazards which you might encounter at work. It is a quick overview to provide you with some basic understanding of each area and to set you on the right path towards a safe and healthy work day. We also offer safety orientation courses specific to janitorial, construction, foodservice, and healthcare industries.
Every day, millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year, thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure. Sadly, some cases are fatal. Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors. As a result, OSHA is sponsoring a “Beat the Heat Contest” to raise awareness of the dangers and hazards of heat exposure in both indoor and outdoor workplaces.
OSHA’s Beat the Heat Contest has four main goals:
Educate stakeholders, especially workers and employers, about heat hazards in the workplace.
Prevent heat illness by creating an awareness campaign that increases the public’s knowledge about this issue.
Highlight the dangers of heat; and
Motivate employers and workers to take action to prevent heat illness.
Tragically, every year, dozens of workers die and thousands more become ill while working in hot or humid conditions. To combat this, OSHA created a Heat Illness Prevention campaign in 2022 to educate employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. Whether you work outside, or inside in a hot and humid environment, you’re at risk of enduring a heat illness. “Our goal is to make it safe for workers in hot indoor and outdoor environments, so that they can return home safe and healthy at the end of each day,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Working together, we can ensure workers know their rights and employers meet their obligations in order to protect workers from the growing dangers of extreme heat.”
Some industries where workers have suffered heat-related illnesses:
Bakeries, kitchens, and laundries
Construction – especially, road, roofing, and other outdoor work
Electrical utilities, boiler rooms
Iron and steel mills and foundries
Mail and package delivery
Oil and gas well operations
What are heat illnesses? A heat illness is one caused by high temperatures and humidity. In a warm environment, the human body relies on its ability to get rid of excess heat to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. Heat dissipation happens naturally through sweating and increased blood flow to the skin. If heat dissipation does not happen quickly enough, the internal body temperature keeps rising and the worker may experience symptoms that include thirst, irritability, a rash, cramping, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.
The four most common heat illnesses include:
Heat rash, which is a stinging skin irritation that turns your skin red.
Heat cramps, which are painful spasms in your muscles.
Heat exhaustion, which is caused by too few fluids and long hours in high temperatures, causes heavy sweating, a fast and weak pulse and rapid breathing.
Heat stroke happens when your temperatures rise above 106 degrees very quickly -within minutes. This is a life-threatening illness.
Heat illness is serious, but we can work together to prevent it.
Employers can keep workers safe in the heat. Employers should create plans to protect workers from developing heat-related illnesses. Keeping workers cool and well-hydrated are the best ways to protect them when working in hot environments. If you or your employees are working in a hot work environment, it is vital to understand how to address heat-related illnesses to keep everyone safe.
Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. The first step in prevention is for employers and workers to recognize heat hazards. Management should commit to:
Protect new workers.
Train all employees to recognize heat hazards.
Determine whether total heat stress is too high.
Implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce heat stress.
Provide sufficient rest, shade, and fluids.
Unfortunately, most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance (acclimatization) to the heat gradually over time. Lack of acclimatization is a major risk factor for fatal outcomes. Our bodies sweat to cool ourselves. Sometimes, sweating isn’t effective enough.
In fact, OSHA encourages water, rest, & shade as prevention as well as treatment for heat-related illness. In addition, engineering controls such as air conditioning, can make the workplace safer. Other options include making changes to workload and schedules. For example, scheduling work for the morning or shorter shifts with frequent rest breaks in the shade. Encourage workers in warm, humid environments to drink hydrating fluids. At a minimum, all supervisors and workers should receive training about heat-related symptoms and first aid. The best scenario in workplaces at high risk of heat illnesses would be a formal Heat Illness Prevention Program.
Heat Illness Prevention Program key elements include:
A Person Designated to Oversee the Heat Illness Prevention Program
Water. Rest. Shade. Message
Modified Work Schedules
Monitoring for Signs and Symptoms
Emergency Planning and Response
It is important to understand workers’ rights and vital information about heat illness. Clearly, some workers are more susceptible to heat-related illness. Personal risk factors include medical conditions, lack of physical fitness, previous episodes of heat-related illness, alcohol consumption, drugs, and use of certain medication. Management should commit to preventing heat-related illness for all employees. In accordance with their heat tolerance levels. Measurement of heart rate, body weight, or body temperature can provide individualized data to aid decisions about heat controls.
Training workers before work in extreme heat begins is just the first step in keeping workers safe. Additionally, tailoring the training to worksite conditions is key. Employers should provide a heat stress training program for all workers and supervisors that include the following:
Causes of heat-related illnesses and steps to reduce the risk.
The importance of acclimatization.
Recognition of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and administration of first aid.
The importance of immediately reporting any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness.
Proper care and use of heat-protective clothing and equipment.
The added heat load caused by exertion, clothing, and personal protective equipment.
Effects of other factors (drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on tolerance to occupational heat stress.
Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness.
Procedures for contacting emergency medical services.
While heat related illnesses are dangerous, they are also preventable with the right knowledge and plan in place. Employees can be prepared and protected while working in less than perfect environments. At NSC, we are here to help. Our Heat Stress Training Program encourages employees to have a positive attitude about heat fatigue safety, learn the symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to recognize if their body is overheating to prevent heat fatigue.
In recent years, the Department of Labor, DOL for short, has renewed its commitment to enforce labor laws, promoting the safety and health of American workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA for short, was created in 1970 to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all workers. It is OSHA’s responsibility to set and enforce safety standards that employers must comply with in order to provide employees with the safest workplace possible. Just last month, OSHA issued two memorandums indicating that they are stepping up their focus on the enforcement of labor laws. In Fact, both memorandums were issued by OSHA’s Directorate for Enforcement Programs.
According to the DOL, OSHA “has issued new enforcement guidance to make its penalties more effective in stopping employers from repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening hazards or failing to comply with certain workplace safety and health requirements.”
The first memorandum, Application of Instance-by-Instance Penalty Adjustment, gives OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Office Directors the authority to cite certain types of violations as “instance-by-instance citations.” This includes cases where the agency identifies “high-gravity” serious violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions. Specifically when the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. The purpose of this change is to encourage OSHA personnel to apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act where increased citations will in fact discourage non-compliance.
Conditions Where Instance-by-Instance Citations May Apply:
The second memorandum, Exercising Discretion When Not to Group Violations, states that it is “intended to reiterate existing policy that allows Regional Administrators and Area Directors discretion to not group violations in appropriate cases to achieve a deterrent effect.” Instead they should cite them separately, with the goal of effectively encouraging employers to comply with the the OSH Act.
This updated guidance covers enforcement activity in general industry, agriculture, maritime and construction industries, and becomes effective 60 days from Jan. 26, 2023. Since the current policy has been in place for more than 30 years and applies only to egregious willful citations, these aggressive changes make it clear that OSHA is focused on deterring employers from ignoring their responsibilities to keep workers safe.
Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health explained the changes this way, “Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties. This is intended to be a targeted strategy for those employers who repeatedly choose to put profits before their employees’ safety, health and wellbeing. Employers who callously view injured or sickened workers simply as a cost of doing business will face more serious consequences.”
OSHA has delivered remarkable progress in improving the safety of America’s work force. Workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities have fallen dramatically over the years. OSHA has tackled fatal safety hazards and health risks by establishing common sense standards and enforcing the law against those who put workers at risk. OSHA standards and enforcement actions have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries and illnesses. Looking to the future, OSHA is renewing its commitment to protecting workers by promoting best practices that can save lives.
OSHA’s general duty clause states, “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees; shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act. Furthermore, each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.” With this in mind, keeping up with all OSHA standards, rules, regulations, and orders can be a daunting task for both employers and employees. Two helpful resources to ensure workplaces are informed and in compliance are our OSHA 29 Regulation books.
Our published OSHA 29 CFR 1910 General Industry Regulations and CFR 1926 Construction Regulations books provide quick and easy access to critical safety guidance at all times. Clearly, this important reference will help employers and employees both quickly identify potential safety concerns and hazards on any job. In order to best serve the needs of everyone, we provide the updated books in two types of binding and in electronic formats. With accessibility in mind, perfect bound book includes 2-color tab end of the book displaying both regulation title and number. Additionally, our premium version of the book is ideal for those that take notes and highlight on their regulations. It’s bound in a loose-leaf, 3-ring, 2″ binder with tabs and it allows for easy navigation to the regulations you use most. These updated books contain all changes to the standards through January 1, 2023.
Two-color layout makes navigating and reading regulations easier
Includes all 1910 regulations
1903 regulations covering inspections, citations and penalties,
1904 regulations covering record keeping and reporting occupational injuries and illness
Easy-to-find regulations changes for the period between book releases
Easy-to-find OSHA interpretations icon shows which page and which regulations have interpretations to reference
Contains OSHA Form 300 and OSHA’s Cancer Policy
Most Frequently Cited Standards preceding relevant Subparts
Workplace compliance is challenging. For this reason, National Safety Compliance is working hard to help employers and employees meet this requirement and stay safe at work. Staying on top of compliance begins with being aware of all the safety standards that apply to your workplace. Which is why NSC has compiled our 1910 and 1926 regulation books. Given that there is so much information to keep track of, having OSHA regulations accessible and aesthetically pleasing benefits everyone.
Occupational hearing loss is preventable and hearing conservation programs work. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 22 million workers are exposed to damaging noise levels at work. Exposure to loud noise can kill the nerve endings in the inner ear and over time can result in permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss due to work hazards is known as occupational hearing loss. The good news is this type of hearing loss is 100 % preventable. To help prevent occupational hearing loss, OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program whenever noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). While many industries have a noisy work environment, some industries have an increased risk of exposure to dangerous noise levels.
Industries with an increased risk of excessive noise exposure include:
Entertainment/Music: noise from instruments, concerts, loudspeakers, and equipment
Airline: ground maintenance workers are particularly at risk
Farming/Agriculture: noise from tractors, power tools, and machinery
Mining: noise from drills, excavating, blasting, and operating plants
Manufacturing: noise from machines
Sports venue: whistles and cheering
Construction: noise from power tools and manual tools
Carpentry: noise from power tools and other tools
Military: noise from live fire, explosions, and aircraft noise
In workplaces where excessive noise is present, employers are responsible to monitor the level of noise exposure in the workplace, provide training and free hearing protection, conduct regular evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protections in use, and provide annual hearing exams. One of the most important components of protecting workers is training. Even workplaces that do not have dangerously high levels of noise can put workers at risk if there is a loud (but not classified as dangerous) noise that continues for long periods of time. Employees must be aware of all the risks at their workplace so they are equipped to protect themselves at work.
The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app is a helpful tool for monitoring noise exposure. It was developed by experienced acoustics engineers and hearing loss experts and is available to the public from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app was developed to help workers make informed decisions about their noise environment and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts.
Protecting workers’ health and safety should be a top priority for all employers. Hearing conservation programs have several goals which include preventing initial occupational hearing loss, preserving and protecting remaining hearing, and equipping workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves. At National Safety Compliance our Hearing Conservation Training Course has been updated for 2023, it will help you prepare your employees to protect their hearing in any work environment.
Hearing conservation course topics include:
Types of Hearing Loss
Effects of Excessive Noise Exposure
Evaluating Noise Exposure Levels
Hearing Conservation Program
A top priority for hearing conservation programs is reducing the amount of exposure to noise. Thankfully, there are several ways to control and reduce workers’ excessive noise exposure in the workplace. First, engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment or making related physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker’s ear. Next, administrative controls are changes in the workplace or schedule that reduce or eliminate the worker’s exposure to noise. Finally, personal hearing protection devices that are provided to employees free of charge significantly reduce exposure to harmful levels of noise.
Our Hearing Conservation Training Course trains workers in the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 & 1926.52 & .101. Employees who take this course will understand the importance of a hearing conservation plan and should be able to apply its standards to workplace hazards and situations. Employers who take this course will have a better understanding of how to develop a training plan and what steps should be taken to protect their workers’ hearing. This training is also an excellent resource to train the trainer.
The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. In addition to the annual event, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun a National Emphasis Program to prevent falls, which is the violation cited most frequently in construction industry inspections.
“This national emphasis program aligns all of OSHA’s fall protection resources to combat one of the most preventable and significant causes of workplace fatalities,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We’re launching this program in concert with the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction and the industry’s Safety Week. Working together, OSHA and employers in all industries can make lasting changes to improve worker safety and save lives.”
In fact, any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on Fall Hazards. Reinforcing the importance of fall prevention is another way to be proactive in reducing falls. Additionally, employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals.
Past Stand-Down Participants Include:
Commercial construction companies of all sizes
Residential construction contractors
Sub- and independent contractors
Highway construction companies
General industry employers
Employer’s trade associations
Employee interest organizations
Safety equipment manufacturers
This event is open to anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace. Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity. For example, discussing job specific hazards, conducting safety equipment inspections, or developing rescue plans. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace.
OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.
Think about asking others associated with your project to participate in the stand-down.
Consider reviewing your fall prevention program.
Develop presentations or activities that will meet your needs.
Decide when to hold the stand-down and how long it will last.
Promote the stand-down.
Hold your stand-down.
It is important to decide what information will be best for your workplace and employees. The meeting should provide information to employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations. Hands-on exercises like a worksite walkaround, equipment checks, etc. can increase employee engagement. It is important to make it interesting to employees. Some employers find that serving snacks increases participation. In Addition, make it positive and interactive. Let employees talk about their experiences and encourage them to make suggestions. If you learned something that could improve your fall prevention program, consider making changes. At NSC we offer resources to help with Fall Prevention Training.
In addition to OSHA’s heightened focus on enforcement, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced changes to Occupational Safety and Health Administration civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2023. Since 2015, agencies have been required to adjust penalties and make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. The purpose of increased penalties is to improve the effectiveness and to maintain their deterrent effect.
This year, OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation. These increases, in addition to OSHA’s enhanced focus on enforcement, remind employers how critical it is to pay attention to their responsibility to provide a safe workplace for all employees. The ability to cite each individual violation separately could mean significantly higher costs for non compliance.
The best way to avoid workplace safety violations is an ongoing dedication to education and training. Both employers and employees must be aware of all the safety concerns at their workplace and be prepared to address those safety issues. Is your safety education program equipping your workers to keep themselves safe at work? It is helpful to be aware of common workplace hazards as well as the unique hazards specific to your own work environment. Are you aware of the top cited OSHA violations and how to address those?
Are OSHA violations still a major concern in the United States?
Unfortunately, yes. While it’s true that the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has played a significant role in improving employee safety standards, many workplaces are still deemed unsafe.
For example, in 2021, OSHA health and safety inspectors carried out 24,333 federal inspections and discovered that 4,764 workers had died on the job in the previous year. The industries that accounted for nearly half of the fatal occupational injuries were:
We’ve written this post to assist both employers and employees identify and fix safety violations. We’ll explore the 10 most commonly violated OSHA standards as reported by OSHA inspectors and discuss ways you, as an employer, can address these concerns.
1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
According to the Bureau of Labor’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, there were 850 fatal falls recorded in the U.S. in 2021, up 5.6% from 2020. Falls, slips, and trips in construction and extraction occupations accounted for 370 of these 2021 fatalities.
You can reduce the likelihood of these incidents by adhering to the OSHA Fall Protection standard. This is a standard with two main requirements for employers:
Provision of fall protection systems such as guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems
Provision of fall protection training to employees working at elevated heights greater than six feet
In order to comply with this standard, employers must do the following two things:
Develop and implement a lockout/tagout program
Teach employees the correct techniques to control hazardous energy
This standard is most often violated when employees:
Fail to train workers in general LOTO procedures
Fail to establish energy control programs
Fail to carry out periodic workplace machinery inspections
Regular LOTO training goes a long way in mitigating machinery-related accidents. Ensure your workers receive quality Lockout/Tagout safety training thanks to our comprehensive resources.
8. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)
Workplaces can become dangerous because of sparks, flying debris, and various hazardous materials. These often cause eye injuries, which is why the OSHA Eye and Face Protection standard was created.
It mandates employers to:
Furnish workers with necessary eye and face protection
Train employees how to correctly wear and use this PPE
For more information on how to protect employee’s eyes and faces on the job site visit our National Safety Compliance website eye safety page.
9. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)
Industrial trucks are used across different industries and workplaces in the U.S. However, their use must be regulated and accompanied by training on safe workplace utility.
The OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks standard provides guidance on what safety precautions employers are meant to put in place to safeguard their employees. One requirement is to train workers on the proper operation of powered industrial trucks.
Prevent driving accidents and remind workers of safe driving practices with our driving safety posters, games, and video kits.
10. Machinery and Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212)
With workplaces like manufacturing plants and industries that are powered by machinery, it was pivotal to develop a standard that related specifically to machinery. That’s where we get the OSHA Machinery and Machine Guarding standard.
This standard is designed to teach workers how to prevent injuries from moving parts while working.
Violations of this standard typically revolve around employers failing to train their employees about how to safely operate machinery and avoid being injured by moving machine parts.
Fostering a safe workplace begins with training and is preserved with educational posters like our Machine Safeguarding resources.
The Bottom Line
Employers and employees have an important role to play in preventing and reducing OSHA violations. Improving the workplace and making it safer and more secure is a team affair. A careful study of these standards and examination of your own current practices doesn’t just protect your workers and save lives, but it can lead to a more functional, effective, and profitable workplace altogether.
The busy holiday season brings with it many challenges for keeping employees safe. Extra hours, increased demand, and potentially, even seasonal employees can all increase safety concerns. It is vital for employers to be vigilant in training employees about hazards in the workplace and safety protocols this time of year.
The importance of safe and healthy workplaces never takes a break. Keeping this in mind will help employers stay focused on one of the most vital responsibilities they have, which is providing a safe work environment for all employees.
The holiday season can also bring added stress to the workplace. Employers should be providing employees with tools to manage stress. While there are many things in life that induce stress, unfortunately, work can be one of those factors. However, workplaces can also be key places for resources, solutions, and activities designed to improve well-being.
At National Safety Compliance we offer the tools and information businesses need to create safe, efficient, and compliant workplaces. OSHA’s website also offers a variety of resources to assist employers in helping and informing their employees of ways to stay safe at work.
Sometimes seasonal employees are young workers and also temporary workers. Host employers must treat temporary workers as they treat existing workers. It is especially important to include adequate training for young temporary workers. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee and are therefore jointly responsible for the employee’s safety and health.
Often temporary or seasonal workers are workers supplied to a host employer and usually paid by a staffing agency, whether or not the job is actually temporary. All workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace, whether temporary or permanent. Actually, the staffing agency and the host employer are temporary workers’ joint employers; therefore, both are responsible for providing and maintaining a safe work environment for those workers.
The staffing agency and the host employer must work together to ensure that all OSHA requirements are fully met. OSHA recommends that the temporary staffing agency and the host employer set out their respective responsibilities for compliance with applicable OSHA standards in their contract. This is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of each employer’s role in protecting employees. In order to clarify the employer’s obligations, including such terms in a contract will help avoid confusion as well as ensure that each employer complies with all relevant regulatory requirements.
All year long, employers must ensure that every worker is properly trained. Employees must be equipped to recognize and prevent job hazards and implement safe work practices. The busy holiday season is no exception, safety is too important to neglect.
Fatal injuries in confined spaces average 92 fatalities per year, according to the US Department of Labor. That’s almost two per week. Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered confined. The configuration of these places hinders the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines. Workers in many industries are required to access them in order to obtain equipment, make repairs, and perform routine maintenance.
The most common risks of working in confined spaces include:
Limited entrances or exits
Poor air quality
Exposure to gases and dangerous toxins (which are more likely to build up to dangerous levels in confined spaces)
Risk of fires or explosions
Drowning risk in trenches, pipelines, or water tanks
Construction workers often perform tasks in confined spaces. However, the risk is not limited to construction workers. Agricultural workers, electricians, and maintenance workers are also at high risk of being injured in confined spaces. Spaces such as pits, manholes, and crawl spaces are not designed for continuous occupancy. It can be very tricky to exit these. An emergency makes escaping even more difficult. Confined spaces can present life-threatening hazards. Hazards such as toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation. Exposure to these hazards can largely be prevented if addressed prior to entering the space to perform work.
By definition, a confined space is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. According to OSHA, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are confined spaces. Indeed, worker training is essential to the recognition of what constitutes a confined space and the hazards that may be encountered in them. For instance, if it is a confined space, the next step is to determine if it is a permit-required confined space.
Permit-Required Confined Space Characteristics:
Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
Contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
Has walls that converge inward
Has floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area
Could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress
In general, the Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard requires the employer, to evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are permit-required confined spaces. If workers are authorized to enter permit spaces, a comprehensive permit spaces program must regulate employee entry into permit spaces. OSHA provides detailed specifications of the elements of an acceptable permit spaces program.
Further, permit spaces must be identified by signs. Entry must be strictly controlled and limited to authorized persons. An important element of the requirements is that entry be regulated by a written entry permit system. In addition, proper atmospheric evaluation and testing of the space before and during any entry by workers. Further, an entry must be monitored by an attendant outside the space. Additionally, a rescue plan is required in the event of an emergency. In order for a rescue to be successful, the confined space safety plan must be quickly accessible to all employees.
Worker training is vital to keeping workers safe. In fact, OSHA outlines training requirements and specific duties for authorized entrants, attendants, and supervisors. According to OSH Online, Eighty-five percent of fatalities in confined spaces were among people who hadn’t been trained. Therefore, it is clear, proper training can save lives. In the same way, the reality is with proper training and equipment, the loss of workers in confined spaces can be prevented.
Training for entrants, attendants, and supervisors
Acute or chronic effects of working in confined spaces
Permit-required confined spaces
Emergency rescue from confined spaces
Personal Protective Equipment in Confined Spaces
This training is appropriate for any workers who will work in or around confined entry spaces. As a result of completing this training, workers will be certified in the OSHA Standard 1926 Subpart AA and should be able to use sound judgment and work within confined spaces safely. Thus, this training is also suitable for supervisors, and managers. Similarly, it is effective to train the trainer or as a refresher course for seasoned employees.
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