Safety in the workplace should be a main concern for all business owners and health and safety professionals, regardless of the industry their company is operating in. Even though modern working conditions and technological developments have made it possible for safety hazards to be reduced throughout a wide range of industries, there are still perils that can endanger the health and safety of employees. Hence, being up-to-date with industry safety regulators and creating as much of a hazard free working environment as possible is of utmost importance for all businesses.
Nowadays, creating injury and illness prevention programs and implementing safety strategies through modern solutions for communicating in the event of an emergency are just two of the methods all companies should consider in terms of health and safety. For example, in the United States, the median days away from work after a nonfatal injury or illness stood at the highest 17 days, for the information industry—12 days for the construction industry, 8 days for the manufacturing industry, and 6 days for leisure and hospitality. Therefore, making sure that your business has all the necessary means of preventing such events and providing employee with a safe working environment protects both employee and company.
Yet for achieving successful outcomes, protecting employees, and maintaining business continuity, a company needs to pair those methods with a proper knowledge of what constitutes a health and safety violation as defined by OSHA and how to prevent it.
Essential Aspects of Health and Safety Hazards Prevention
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job. In 2017, the United States experienced 4.414 preventable work deaths—after three consecutive years of increases—4.5 million medically consulted injuries, and $161.5 billion, as per the NSC’s injury facts report.
Before discussing how to prevent the top 6 OSHA violations, it is important to have a firm grasp of what it means to prevent health and safety hazards in the workplace, and how your company can align itself not only with industry regulators, but also with the particular needs of employees and of your production plans. All companies need to have professionals or team assigned to health and safety issues, and thoroughly drafted and implemented strategies that target both emergency plans and communications in the event of a crisis.
When drafting your health and safety plans and strategies, don’t forget to keep in mind essential aspects such as: training programs for all employees, the use of high-quality communication solutions, compliancy with OSHA regulations, comprehensive methods for employees to report an issue or file a complaint, and any other aspect particular to your activity.
The Top 6 OSHA Violations and How to Prevent Them
All OSHA violations can significantly affect your business financially, but most importantly, they can seriously jeopardize the health and safety of your employees, therefore it is of the utmost importance to take responsibility on the matter and make sure that your business is always in compliance with industry regulations. According to its general duty clause, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 standardizes health and safety aspects throughout the United States, and makes it mandatory for employers and employees to comply with its standards, rules, regulations, and orders.
Today, we are going to go over the top 6 OSHA violations and how your company can prevent them, thus offering employees a safe workplace, and keeping your business operating to the highest of its abilities.
1. Fall Protection
Meant to protect employees from the main reason of work injuries and illnesses, OSHA fall protection guidelines are highly explicit and can help all employers to take measures for finding and fixing all fall-related hazards. Whether we are speaking of overhead platforms, holes in the floor, elevated work stations, or any other workplace structures that might lead to a fall, you need to make sure that employees are aware guidelines and that your business has taken all precautionary measures. If you have employees who are working alone in specific areas of your location, make sure that you have proper communication strategies in place, which they can use in the event of an emergency.
2. Hazard Communication
The second OSHA violation according to inspections of worksites by federal OSHA agents is related to hazard communication. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) issued by OSHA provides businesses with a comprehensible approach to all aspects of chemical safety in the workplace. It is of utmost importance that all your employees are trained and informed about identifying, evaluating, and reporting the hazard of chemicals (or any other health and safety hazard), and know how to proceed if or when a situation arises.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 2.3 million construction employees work on scaffolds, and preventing scaffolding-related injuries can help American employers save $90 million in workdays not lost. Therefore, being compliant with OSHA scaffolding regulations is mandatory. If your company operates in the construction industry, and you are not certain how to draft and implement your prevention strategies, the OSHA websites offers you free eTools for construction workers.
4. Respiratory Protection
Wearing respiratory protection is mandatory for an estimated 5 million workers in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. According to OSHA’s guidelines, workers need to wear respirators for protection from inhaling dangerous substances. If your employees are dealing with dangerous substances and are required to wear a respiratory device, make sure that its acquirement and use will be done in full compliance with industry regulators.
5. Control of Hazardous Energy
Related to the lockout-tagout (LOTO) procedure, the control of hazardous energy is mandatory when it comes to the service and maintenance of machinery and any kind of equipment in which unexpected start-up can occur. If your employees are operating such machinery, make sure that you are regularly servicing them and conducting maintenance sessions, as well as training all personnel on health and safety aspects related to the control of hazardous energy.
Number six on OSHA’s list of most common violations related to the safe use of ladders, either fixed or portable. Knowing all standards involved in the use of ladders in the workplace and instructing employees on this aspect will help your business prevent ladder-related incidents, keep all personnel safe, and assure business continuity. Given how common ladders are around the workplace—regardless of industry—knowing how to prevent this OSHA violation is mandatory for all businesses in which employees might operate ladders or ladder-like structures.
Overall Best Practices of Preventing OSHA Violations
After familiarizing yourself with the top OSHA violations and how they relate to your employees and business, drafting a prevention strategy relies not only on particular aspects of each violation, but also on implementing general best practices, such as:
- Implementing highly comprehensive prevention plans that take into consideration all health and safety aspects related to your business
- Training and educating employees in order to provide them with a full understanding on equipment, machinery, hazardous substances—but also on health and safety standards, guidelines, orders, and regulations
- Methodical implementation of crisis and hazard communication strategies with the use of fully-featured communication solutions such as a mass notification system
- Providing safety equipment, respiratory protection, and any other health and safety related equipment such as hard hats, masks, goggle, and more
- Conducting all health and safety operations and taking all decisions with a proactive attitude that will help you be ahead of all hazardous situations
- Conducting maintenance sessions, audits, and reviews with regularity
- Gathering and analyzing employee feedback on all health and safety aspects of the workplace
Regardless of the sector your company operates in, preventing OSHA violations protects the health and safety of your employees, and keeps your business operating at full capacity, which is why it is of utmost importance to always draft all business strategies with this aspect in mind. Don’t forget to stay up-to-date with industry regulators, legislation, and technology that can help you prevent these violations.