“A lot of organizations, they’ve got the best procedures in place, but it’s the implementation of the procedures that fail.” – Namir George – National Safety Council
The team at the National Safety Council has compiled a quick list of the most common workplace safety violations they encounter while conducting safety audits. Below are the 7 workplace hazards to look out for:
1) Working at Height
Falls account for 14% of all fatalities in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s data, so safety inspectors take fall protection and mitigation seriously. The most common violations are related to improper scaffolding and ladder use. Employers must identify all potential falling hazards and ensure that all employees are trained in fall protection before work begins. Lastly, fall protection and PPE must be inspected regularly and replaced if damaged.
2) Poor Housekeeping
Most inspectors cite employers for failing to keep the workplace free of obstructions. Inspectors regularly cite employers for blocking fire exits, aisles and emergency exits with unnecessary clutter. In addition, employers often over-stack loads on racks in the warehouse, or bring the stacks too close to a sprinkler head. Double check all storage areas sprinkler heads, and emergency exits to make sure things are clean and clear of obstruction.
3) Electrical – Extension Cords
Extension cords are a common item on job sites, however they are often misused. Most safety hazards involve the use of multiple extension cords or power strips stringed together. Not only does this pose a trip and fall hazard if improperly placed, but when the cords are linked together they can easily overdraw the circuits, causing the wires to overheat and potentially ignite. OSHA will also examine how long the extension cords have been in use at a given time. Extension cords are considered a temporary source of power. OSHA will issue a citation if a cord has been used continuously for several weeks or a month.
In regards to forklifts, most violations come from driving with too large of a load, driving distracted, and failing to segregate the forklift from the pedestrians. With the proper training and correct supervision, these issues should be quickly resolved. A lack of maintenance and daily checks of the fork lifts are also a cause of citations. Forklifts should be inspected before every use to make sure it is in good working order.
Violations are a general result of complacency to the rules, a rush to finish the work at hand, and being unfamiliar with the equipment. Lockout/Tagout procedures are relatively simple and a quick training can ensure employees are aware of the risks involved with failing to follow the required steps for Lockout/Tagout.
Every job site has its selection of chemicals at hand. Whether it is gasoline or paint, these materials are a necessity to get a job done. However, many companies have too many unnecessary chemicals that go unchecked. These items all have an expiration date and can pose a serious safety threat. Expired chemicals are a common reason for OSHA citations as well as the improper labeling of the chemicals on the job site. Before work begins, always make sure all chemicals are properly labeled and check the expiration date whether or not you are confident in the quality of the product.
7) Confined Spaces
Two out of three people who die in a confined space are attempting to rescue a trapped colleague. It is the responsibility of the employer to monitor all confined spaces to make sure only permitted and trained individuals are entering a confined space, even if they are entering to rescue another worker. The majority of OSHA violations involving confined spaces are a direct result of the employer failing to carry out a proper risk assessment or issuing permits and training to those entering the space.
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