June is National Safety Month across the United States. It’s celebrated in various ways, but its main focus is clear: to draw attention to worker health and workplace safety in the 21st century. Since these statistics are frequently tracked, compared and quoted, it’s easy for employers to gauge their effectiveness and any improvements over the course of time.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things we can learn from 2017’s data:
Avoid the Common Issues
Every year, OSHA compiles and publishes a Top 10 list of most cited violations. The top three from 2017 include:
- Fall protection / general requirements: 6,887 violations
- Hazard communications: 4,652 violations
- Scaffolding: 3,697 violations
There are several key takeaways for employers. For starters, the top three most commonly cited violations are related – at least in part – to one another. Addressing fundamental problems with the setup or condition of scaffolding hardware, for example, will immediately reduce the emphasis on hazard communications and fall protection.
Such solutions work in the reverse manner, too. Provide your workers with proper fall protection and the importance of communications is diminished. While it’s still a necessary component of any job, it no longer maintains so much responsibility.
Other common violations include respiratory protection hardware, lockout and tagout equipment, ladder safety, powered industrial trucks, machine safeguarding, proper fall protection training and electrical wiring methods.
Feel Free to Ask Questions – Anonymously
In some cases, companies and individuals violate OSHA regulations without even realizing it. Although ignorance of the law is not an excuse, it does cause a lot of confusion for many workers. If you or any of your staff members are unclear of the rules, regulations or guidelines set forth by OSHA, feel free to contact them directly.
Patrick Kapust, deputy director with OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, pointed out the fact that OSHA does provide an anonymous platform for discussing such issues. You don’t have to provide your own name, your company’s name or an address – you just have to take the time to call and ask the question in the first place.
OSHA’s website also provides a wealth of information for employers and employees alike. As Kapust points out, it’s a good idea to become familiar with any applicable guidelines and standards on your own – even if you have a dedicated compliance team. You can also view details on the typical OSHA inspection process prior to an inspector’s arrival.
The Learning Process
While there are still a lot of improvements to be made, most industries are making steady progress toward compliance. The newfound interest in big data makes it easy to track and compare stats like this, so there’s no excuse for those who fail to learn from their past mistakes and those of their peers.
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