Top Tips for Avoiding Building and Safety Violations
Safety in the workplace is serious business. So is keeping up with all of the rules and regulations put in place to protect workers and the environment.
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Safety in the workplace is serious business. So is keeping up with all of the rules and regulations put in place to protect workers and the environment. Avoiding violations of the standards takes time and effort, but it can pay dividends in the form of a safer work environment and avoided penalties and bad publicity. Here are the top 10 most commonly violated workplace safety standards (according to information developed from OSHA and the state of Tennessee).
- No written hazard communication program
You should develop and implement an adequate hazard communication program. What does an adequate program include? A written description of how you will ensure that containers are labeled as required. A list of hazardous chemicals present at the worksite. Material safety datasheets for each listed chemical, readily accessible to employees. Employee training about the requirements of the OSHA standard and the hazards of all routine and non-routine tasks in the specific work area. Methods for informing other contractors of your program, so their employees can be trained to understand the hazards in your worksite.
- No information and training on hazardous chemicals
Your written communications program will go a long way toward solving this problem. However, it will not do you any good if you do not put it to use. Implement the program, make the information available to your employees, and train them to use the tools you have provided to avoid unsafe exposure to chemical hazards.
- Electrical conductors not protected entering boxes, cabinets, or fittings
If you do not know if you have problems with these issues, seek the help of a licensed electrician or ask your property and casualty insurer to inspect your workplace.
- Missing electrical covers and canopies
If your inspection turns up these problems, make sure that a qualified electrician replaces the missing cover.
- Tongue guards missing or not adjusted on abrasive wheel grinders
Adjust the tongue guard or safety guard peripheral member to within an inch of the wheel periphery to contain and deflect fragments away from the operator if the wheel shatters. Keep checking the guard as the wheel wears down. Remember, never operate any equipment with the safety guards removed.
- Hard hats not worn on construction sites
Just as a written hazard communication program does no good if you fail to implement it, providing hard hats does no good if your employees do not wear them. If you have problems getting your employees to wear hard hats, examine your organization’s approach to workplace safety. You may be sending a message that safety is not important to you, and you need to change that impression. As a final note, make sure the hard hats you provide meet the specifications of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Poor fall protection: unprotected sides on surfaces 6 feet or more in height on construction sites
Each employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge 6 feet or more above a lower level needs to be protected using a guardrail system, safety net system, or a personal fall arrest system.
- No portable fire extinguishers
Your local fire department should be able to help determine the number and type of fire extinguishers you need in your workplace. A written fire safety policy is a good idea. The policy should require the immediate and total evacuation of all employees from the workplace when the fire alarm signal sounds. Fire drills in the workplace are also a good idea.
- Unsafe use of flexible electrical cords
Flexible cords and cables should not be used as a substitute for fixed wiring in your building. These cords and cables should not be run through holes in walls, ceilings, or floors.
- Not maintaining an OSHA 200 log
Certain employers are required by OSHA regulations to keep a log of work-related injuries and illnesses. OHSA fact sheet 93-05 will help you determine if you are required to track these events. You can get this fact sheet and the necessary forms by contacting the OSHA area office or the state OSHA office.
Source: These tips are presented by Dave Wisniewski, formerly of EHSmanager.com, and Jeff Koch who works as a consultant in insurance and risk management and is President and CEO of the United Methodist Insurance Company, Inc. Jeff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.