One of the reasons companies find themselves in violation of health and safety mandates is because rules change, but companies do not always keep themselves appraised of these changes. It follows that they do not make sure their employees’ knowledge of health and safety legislation, rules, and regulations.
Failure to keep current and to ensure employees receive appropriate training and recertification can have disastrous results. Employees may be hurt or killed. Expensive equipment may be damaged or destroyed. Worker lost hours due to preventable injury may result in loss of production, increased insurance premiums, and bad publicity for the company.
In 2014, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released new information regarding the top ten most frequently cited health and safety areas of concern. These areas of concern include:
Falls account for over 6,000 violations a year according to OSHA. Their regulations look at safety equipment to avoid falls from heights. Other areas of concern are cluttered and slippery workplace surfaces, the condition of ladders used in the workplace, guards around open areas, powered maintenance platforms, scaffolding, and personal fall arrest systems.
Failing to handle or label hazardous materials properly accounts for over 5,000 violations. OSHA stresses that employees have special training if they are exposed to hazardous materials in their workplace. Every employee who works with hazardous materials must receive information and training before taking on a workplace assignment where hazardous materials are present. Moreover, they must receive recertification regularly to address new regulations, changes in hazardous materials and a refresher course in proper handling, storage, and labeling of hazardous materials. The employer must provide proper procedures and sufficient safety equipment. Workers must know what to do in case of a spill to ensure employees avoid harmful exposure that could cause injury, illness or death.
Whether on a construction site or other businesses, which use scaffolding, improper use of scaffolding, lack of safety equipment, inexperienced workers, or faulty scaffolding result in over 4,000 reported violations. Scaffold regulations cover proper construction of scaffolds, safe movement of the scaffolds, special training in fall safety for those working on scaffolds. The regulations also clearly outline wearing safety equipment when working from a scaffold and the regular maintenance, checking, and repair of this safety equipment.
Over 3,000 violations occurred in the area where respiration issues occurred. OSHA regulations state that where workers are in a workplace where breathing air contaminated by potentially harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors exists, the workers must be provided with knowledge and equipment to avoid illness, injury or death from these harmful particles. Proper equipment and ventilation must be present and workers properly trained for working in this environment.
Any energy source including electricity, hydraulic or gas must be properly controlled. A lockout system is important to regular site safety and injury prevention. Lockout/tagout violations showed the sharpest increase with over 2,700 violations. This violation moved up three spots to fifth place in the top ten violations. Tagout systems are easy to put in place. They can save hundreds of needless injuries and deaths for a single company. Injuries that could have been prevented by having a lockout system in place range from bruises, abrasions, and cuts to amputations or death.
Changes in Recording and Reporting Accidents and Injuries in the Workplace
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost four million serious workplace injuries and illnesses happen annually. If each report of a health and safety incident requires half an hour to describe and report, as they have done manually in the past, the result will be serious employee hours lost in reporting alone.
Effective January 2015, OSHA implemented new reporting requirements aimed at prevention of workplace injuries. The regulations increase the types of injuries and illnesses the employer is required to report to OSHA. As of January 1, 2015 employers are now required to notify OSHA any time an employee dies on the job. The employer must also inform OSHA any time a worker is hospitalized with a workplace injury. Amputations or loss of an eye must also be reported. Moreover, as of January 1 the above injuries, deaths or illnesses will have to be reported to OSHA within eight hours of their occurrence.
Fortunately the time required using the old pen and paper reporting and duplicating of reports has been significantly reduced by technology. Supervisors can now use hand held devices to complete the description of the accident or injury on site. This data is then used to create an instant electronic report to the employer and other supervisors and to OSHA. The time required to file reports has been significantly reduced and the report is available immediately throughout the business.
Because of the availability of these electronic health and safety reports on employees’ and employers’ handheld devices, the company management has an accurate and current picture of health and safety issues in their organization. They can comply with their reporting obligations quickly, legibly, and accurately and they can move to correct the issue before it become the cause of future injuries or deaths.