Every year, there are hundreds of accidental deaths in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of these deaths occur in the workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports every year worker deaths in private industry from carbon monoxide exposure. Continue reading
November 19, 2013
No matter what the industry, safety procedures and good housekeeping practices are key to the wellbeing of employees and company profitability.
In fact, the two are intertwined. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to assure safety standards and to protect American workers. Many furniture companies work with their warehouses and distribution centers to meet and exceed those standards to ensure their workers’ safety. However, what do companies do to ensure compliance? Continue reading
Most employers throughout the U.S. are demanding previous forklift operator training or certification from individuals applying for employment who want to be forklift operators. The OSHA Federal Regulation, CFR1910.178, para. (L), Operator Training, Powered Industrial Trucks, clearly and repeatedly states that it is the employer’s responsibility to train and evaluate each operator regardless of previous experience or prior training. All training and evaluations must be site and equipment specific. The word certification rears its “ugly head” only one time in the OSHA Powered Industrial Truck Regulation. It states: “Certification. The employer shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by this paragraph (L)”. The above word “that” implies the process. The process being that the present and current employer is certifying to OSHA that each operator has been trained, tested, evaluated and authorized (again, site and equipment specific).
During an OSHA audit or investigation, the employer, in most cases, will be required to provide certification. The certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation(s) and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation. If OSHA finds the employer to be non-compliant or for a willful violation, severe OSHA fines and penalties can be imposed. In the event of an injury or death accident, consider the implications of a liability lawsuit if you, the employer, are not in compliance or the accident resulted from an employer’s willful violation or gross negligence.
These tips came from www.ForkliftSafety.com. For more information, visit their website or call (800) 494-3225.
Workplace safety is about protecting public sector employees from work-related injury and illness.
1. Protects the employees’ well-being
2. Reduces the amount of money paid out in:
- health insurance benefits,
- workers’ compensation benefits and
- wages for temporary help.
3. Saves the cost of:
- lost-work hours (days away from work or restricted hours or job transfer),
- time spent in orienting temporary help,
- programs and services that may suffer due to fewer employees,
- stress on those employees who are picking up the absent workers’ share or, worse case,
- suspension or shutting down a program due to lack of employees.
4. Addressing Safety and Health Hazards in the Workplace
To make the workplace safer, determine where and what and how a worker is likely to become injured or ill before it occurs.
Job hazard analysis
Examine the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment.
Start with analyzing individual workstations and program areas for hazards—the potential for harm—be it a frayed electrical cord, repetitive motion, toxic chemicals, mold, lead paint or lifting heavy objects.
5. Co-Workers Affect Each Other’s Safety
Employees’ health and safety are affected not only by their own actions but by those of their co-workers.
Senior management must:
help employees manage hazards associated with their work (tasks or responsibilities).
determine that employees are fit for work. Fitness for work involves:
- drug and alcohol issues,
- physical and emotional well-being, and
- fatigue and stress.
6. Create Ownership of the Program
People need to be involved in the creation and use of the workplace safety program for it to succeed.
The entity is responsible for supplying appropriate safety equipment, but employees are responsible for wearing personal protective equipment at the appropriate time and place.
The entity should provide training to help employees carry out their assignments, but workers are responsible for attending this training, asking questions and telling supervisors if they do not understand what is being explained.
Allow for Continuous Improvement
In workplace safety and health, continuous improvement is about:
- seeking better ways to work;
- measuring performance;
- reporting against set targets;
- evaluating compliance with procedures, standards and regulations;
- understanding the causes of incidents and injuries; and
- openly acknowledging and promptly correcting any deficiencies.
- Measure Performance
Performance can be measured by:
- reduction in frequency of lost-time injury
- reduction in frequency of medical treatment (beyond first-aid care) injury
- reduction in number of sick days used
- lower workers’ compensation costs
- lower medical benefits payments (doctor’s visits, prescription drugs)
The Americans with Disabilities Act establishes an employer’s affirmative duty to accommodate qualified employees or job applicants in performing the essential aspects of a job.
It is important that the employer’s commitment to reasonable accommodation is emphasized in writing in the safety manual, and in the employee handbook. The Title I employment provisions apply to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions with 15 or more employees. Some accommodations can be achieved by making changes in personnel selection and training procedures to eliminate requirements that are not essential to a particular job.
Accommodations can also be achieved by restructuring the job to eliminate nonessential tasks and modifying work schedules.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 CFR, 1970) covers all employees in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. Many states have created their own programs under this law, which are required to meet all the requirements of OSHA. There are currently 22 states and jurisdictions operating complete state plans that cover private sector employees.
The general duty clause reads, “Each employer shall furnish…a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Agencies with full regulatory powers to assure compliance have a right to visit and conduct workplace investigations, and to impose fines for noncompliance.
Nearly every working man and woman in the nation comes under OSHA’s jurisdiction (with some exceptions, such as miners, transportation workers, many public employees, and the self-employed).
Seek assistance through OSHA’s consultation services.
Consultation services are not enforcement! This is an important distinction, so don’t overlook this important opportunity to gather knowledge from the experienced.