Top 10 Citations from OSHA Inspections & How to Avoid Them
Workplace safety is serious business. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 3 million people are injured at work every year.
As a federal enforcement body for workplace safety standards, OSHA regularly releases data about the type and the number of citations they deliver. In October 2016, as part of an effort to help workplaces comply with high safety standards, they released a list of the ten most frequently issued citations from the nearly 32,000 OSHA inspections that took place during the previous year.
We’ve grouped this list into new categories and provided additional resources to help you avoid these common safety violations and prioritize safety at your jobsite. Because of our keen interest in keeping contingent workers safe on the job, many of our pointers will highlight precautions that we use to ensure this particular group’s welfare. Working with a safety-minded staffing partner can go a long way toward affirming that your contingent workforce benefits from best practices.
Category 1: Falls
- Fall Protection
Citations related to Fall Protection were the number one item on OSHA’s list. Ladder and Scaffold violations, which can often result in falls if uncorrected, also landed in the top ten. In order to help prevent further citations and potential accidents, OSHA has released a fall prevention fact sheet.
These efforts are part of an ongoing campaign by OSHA to provide educational materials and training opportunities that prevent workplace falls. The tagline for this campaign is simple but powerful: “Plan. Provide. Train.” And it’s important that staffing companies and the businesses that partner with them take this statement seriously.
Work with your staffing provider to decide which entity will provide contingent workers with required training and necessary equipment, and make sure to define these terms in your contract. To echo OSHA’s tagline, you should plan to make sure there are no gaps in training or equipment availability, you should know which entity is providing personal protective equipment, and you should establish what training each company will provide.
Category 2: Machines
- Machine Guarding
The second category includes violations of standards relating to the safe operation and handling of machinery in the workplace.
In order to steer clear of Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) violations in your facility, OSHA warns that all people who work near machines that require energy control procedures, such as large conveyor belts, should be trained accordingly – not just maintenance workers. Everybody who could be exposed to hazardous energy needs to know what the potential risks are and which precautionary measures to take. Make sure this is covered in your site-specific safety training for contingent workers.
How can you recognize if machinery in your workplace is insufficiently guarded? The first step is to identify potentially hazardous motions and actions. Look for any machines that have rotating, reciprocating or transversing motions, and regularly inspect any machinery that performs cutting, punching, shearing or bending actions. OSHA has a list of resources to help you determine if machines in your facilities currently lack necessary safeguards.
Category 3: Electrical
- Electrical Wiring
- Electrical, General Requirements
While not all workers are exposed to fall risks or potentially dangerous machinery, nearly all workers interact with electricity in some capacity. This means that all workers should receive at least a basic level of electrical safety training.
All workers should know to inspect electrical equipment before using it. They should know to be on the lookout for exposed wiring as well as damaged or missing prongs. As with LOTO procedures, all workers should know where to find electrical boxes and circuit breakers so they can turn off the power supply to outlets if need be.
All Other Categories
- Hazard Communication
As with many other safety concerns, training contingent workers in accordance with these standards requires planning on your part as well as preparation by your staffing partner. Make sure you establish with your staffing partner what each of you will cover. As a general rule, staffing companies should provide contingent workers with general training, while you should give them site-specific information.
The American Staffing Association has also created a webinar to help explore the responsibilities of staffing companies and host businesses.
- Respiratory Protection
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, a leading cause of failure to comply with Respiratory Protection requirements comes from the lack of an established written program that outlines location-specific procedures and policies.
- Powered Industrial Trucks
The operation of forklifts, otherwise known as powered industrial trucks, can be a complicated subject, especially when they’re driven by workers who have been hired through staffing firms. Who bears legal responsibility for verifying the worker’s qualifications? Luckily, OSHA has some guidelines to help clear things up. OSHA recommends that staffing agencies and their clients jointly review the jobsite, the machines in use at the site and any potential hazards. Both the staffing agency and their client ultimately bear responsibility for ensuring that workers are appropriately licensed and evaluated, and that they receive site-specific training equivalent to what is undertaken by permanent workers.
Make Safety a Cultural Value of Your Organization
The above information is a solid step toward maintaining compliance with relevant regulations and codes by preventing injuries that result from falls, machinery mishaps and electrical accidents. We’ve also prepared a checklist to help you review your program. While we’ve noted that the unique position of contingent workers requires you to take special precautions, you should never feel like you’re going it alone. A proactive staffing provider should be with you every step of the way, and they should know what additional steps to take to ensure your workplace is compliant and your workers are protected.
OSHA inspections are just one reason to take on the task of continuous safety improvement. At Staff Management | SMX, we want to encourage our readers to participate in a culture of safety, one where the ultimate goal is to continuously improve safety standards and productivity in the workplace.