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Your OSHA Audit

Is OSHA on Their Way to Your Workplace? 

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Do you know your rights during an OSHA Audit? While the common goal is always the safety of your employees it is good to know what you can expect when your compliance officer arrives. You should be as prepared as they are and know the protocol that should be adhered to throughout the process.

There will be an opening conference, a walkaround, and a closing conference.

During the opening conference, before your audit begins the compliance officer should show you his credentials and explain to you why your workplace has been selected, the scope of the inspection, and procedures.

The walkaround will consist of just that, walking around your facility while the compliance officer inspects for hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness. The compliance officer will also review any records and postings that should be present and applicable to the potential onsite hazards, they may also interview some employees during this time as well.

It is always helpful if you are fully cooperative with your compliance officer, being evasive or misleading will only lead to a more in depth investigation. Pay attention to all of the elements that the inspector is reviewing, making note of or taking video or pictures of.

The closing conference is when you will have time to sit down with the compliance officer and go over his or her findings and the possible courses of action going further to address or contest any possible fines. OSHA has 6 months from the violation occurrence to issue an official citation and proposed penalties.

Once OSHA has issued a citation the employer then has the opportunity to appeal within 15 working days of receipt. OSHA’s primary goal is correcting hazards such that fines are usually lessened to work with you towards a safety solution.


Ergonomics in the Workplace

Does Your Workplace Need an Ergonomic Intervention?

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Ergonomics on the job go unnoticed until it is too late. They specifically relate to the way in which a person physically adapts their body to fit the task that they are doing. Whether it be a change in posture, work station, tools or equipment, putting added stress, strain or overexertion on the body to accommodate unnatural movements can result in serious injuries down the road, including tendonitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and back injuries.

Common ergonomic risk factors to watch for include: vibration, repetitive movements, straining your eyes, bending over, lifting heavy objects or using pressure or force for extended periods of time.

Here are some tips to put to use when looking to improve ergonomics and ultimately production rates in your facility.

  • Look for signs of a potential strain in the workplace, such as frequent worker reports of aches and pains or tasks requiring repetitive forceful exertions and act to reduce them
  • Show management commitment by addressing possible problems and encouraging worker involvements in problem-solving
  • Offer training to expand management and worker ability to evaluate potential problems
  • Gather data to identify jobs or work conditions that are most problematic, using sources such as injury and illness logs, medical records, and job analyses
  • Identify effective controls for tasks that pose a risk of strain and evaluate these approaches once they have been instituted to see if they have reduced or eliminated the problem
  • Establish health care management to emphasize the importance of early detection and treatment of injuries for preventing impairment and disability
  • Minimize risk factors for when planning new work processes and operations

For more information on how to assess your working postures to prevent and control musculoskeletal disorders click here.

 


 

Handle with Care: 10 Tips for Safer Hazardous Material Handling

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When handling a wide variety of hazardous materials on a daily basis it is important to employ the proper safety policies to keep accidents and injuries at bay.

Here are ten safety practices to keep in mind when you come into contact with hazardous materials:

  •  Proper training and education of all employees who will come in contact with hazardous materials in any way is essential
  • Assume all chemicals are hazardous when handling them
  • Take necessary precautions when working with and storing chemicals including proper pressure and temperature requirements
  • Eliminate the hazard through engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and administrative procedures when at all possible
  • If not possible to eliminate the chemical look for safer substitutions
  • Establish a universal documentation system for what your facility has on hand
  • Keep an up to date inventory of all hazardous materials
  • Make the availability of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s*) known to all employees on all shifts and in all locations
  • Review and update your safety processes on a regular basis and make necessary changes
  • Do not assume all precautions protect against all chemicals. Each chemical comes with its own unique set of ways to protect against them. Thoroughly assess working conditions and apply the proper protection accordingly.

*The transition from old MSDS formats to the new GHS styled SDS is a big part of GHS adoption and there are three major challenges organizations that traffic in SDSs must face: SDS authoring, SDS management and SDS training. Download our GHS Adoption Timeline Checklist for a roadmap to compliance.

 


 

Workplace Safety News Roundup

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Here’s a sampling of what’s happening in workplace safety this month.

Who’s Blowing the Whistle on OSHA

After retiring from a high ranking state regulatory position in California Garette Brown filed a whistleblower complaint just 2 weeks after stepping down. The complaint, which remains under investigation, accused Cal/OSHA of failing to maintain the staffing levels required to receive federal funds and said the state has one of the worst inspector-to-worker ratios in the nation.

To read more about Garette Brown’s filling click here.

Public Hearing on Proposed Changes to Confined Space Standard

Oregon OSHA on July 25 announced it will hold a public hearing Aug. 25 on proposed changes to its confined space standard for general industry and construction. The goal in this process was to draft a rule that was significantly less confusing than the current rule, address shortcomings with the current rule, and organize the standard so employers can better understand what is expected of them. These amendments clarify employer obligations and eliminate confusing requirements.

To Learn more about the proposed changes click here.

$101,300 in OSHA Fines for A Major Airline

An major airline allegedly has exposed ground operation workers at the Newark, N.J., airport to hazardous conditions, prompting OSHA to issue 16 citations and propose penalties of $101,300. electrical hazards, falls, and being struck by objects and equipment daily failure to clearly mark exits located inside facilities where food service employees, baggage handlers, and gate agents worked; keep unused openings closed on an electrical box where conduit or knockout plugs were located; and use extension cords as a substitute for required permanent wiring at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Find out more about this infraction here