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The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) says that employers are required to determine if personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used to protect their employees. If a company decides their workers need PPE, a PPE “program” should be installed. According to OSHA, this program should cover the following issues:
Whether you are cutting pressure-treated lumber to build a deck in your back yard or performing complicated welding assignments during construction of a new space shuttle, proper eye protection is absolutely critical. Your eyes are more vulnerable to accident and injury than any other part of your body. Just one small, even microscopic foreign particle can do serious or permanent damage to your eyes. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), after analyzing volumes of data, has designed and published detailed standards on the use of appropriate protection for your eyes.
OSHA has developed these guidelines in conjunction with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to specify minimum recommended requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) providing eye protection. Employers must provide eye PPE that protects employees from all manner of flying objects, large and small. For workers involved in welding or other torch related duties, a detailed grid prescribes the darkening shade responsibilities of the eyewear to further protect you from the additional hazards of light radiation being generated. OSHA regulation 1910.133 explains the eye protection standards for general industry, including welding-related activities.
Construction industry eye protection is addressed in a separate section (1926.102) which outlines the standards for PPE at jobsites. In addition to flying objects and light radiation, these standards also address potentially dangerous chemical threats to your eyes. Most eye protection takes the form of a variety of styles of goggles or a solid face shield attached to protective headwear. Read these sections and learn the recommended protective quality of the PPE you should use for your specific industry.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) sets standards for the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), protective apparel, and industrial accident prevention techniques to protect employees and, indirectly, employers from worker injury while on the job. They analyze huge volumes of data regarding both industrial accidents and types of PPE to protect against workplace hazards and avoiding accidents. While the construction industry remains a primary focus, many other industries are also covered under the OSHA Act.
PPE standards are addressed in different sections based on the type of protection and the specific areas of their use. There are chapters on general requirements, eye and face protection, respiratory, head, foot, and hand protection. A separate set of standards applies to protection against electrical hazards faced on the job, whether or not you are a professional electrician. Another area covers toxic and hazardous substances encountered in different types of workplaces.
These standards are more than mere recommendations. OSHA has a staff of inspectors who make random, unannounced visits to job sites and companies around the U.S. to ensure industrial safety standards are being followed. If violations are uncovered, OSHA has the ability to levy fines on the employers who are found guilty of disregarding one or more safety standards. Therefore, OSHA both defines and publishes the standards for industrial safety and the type of PPE recommended to avoid workplace accidents. To ensure compliance with these published standards, OSHA inspectors make on site visits to witness the job safety measures being employed by employers.
If you are away from your computer, and prefer a quick way to review OSHA regulations on the jobsite, the OSHA fact sheets entitled, “OSHA QuickCards,” are ideal for you. “OSHA QuickCards” are perfect for employers and their staff members to carry a shortened version of their OSHA regulations.
“OSHA QuickCards” are available in *.pdf format, and can be downloaded in Spanish as well. After printing downloading and printing, place these fact sheets in your wallet, or paste on the wall in your workplace. These fact sheets possess essential information, which should be handed out to staff and coworkers.
As the name implies, the “Whistleblower Program,” established by OSHA was setup to protect employees who complain to the OSHA about their working conditions, and the lack of safety in their workplace.
The “Whistleblower Program,” is mandated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and prohibits any employee from being fired or discriminated against, after filing an OSHA complaint. Based on the guidelines established for the “Whistleblower Program,” employees have a right to participate in inspections against their employer, submit complaints about OSHA violations, and be a witness in the OSHA's case against their employer. So if you have to make complaints about your workplace safety, know the “Whistleblower Program” is there to protect you.
OSHA publishes both a general standard for protective clothing and detailed recommendations for specific personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect your eyes, head, face, hands, feet, and other parts of your body.
Regardless of the design, material, convenience, and/or comfort of protective clothing, OSHA mandates that PPE provide protection against specific hazards present in a variety of industrial environments. While most employers closely follow the standards set by OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), don't take their compliance for granted.
Become familiar with the protective clothing standards set by OSHA because avoidable injury protection is paramount where your body is concerned. Visit the OSHA website, identify your industry, and read the industrial safety standards for PPE that have been published. Remember, there are often different requirements depending on the nature of the potential threats you might face. For instance, standards for protective clothing if you face potential falling objects can be quite different from those stated if you face primarily chemical hazards instead. General OSHA requirements for protective clothing can be found in section 1910.132 of the Act. You can then move on to standards set for specific PPE items.
You may find this hard to be believe, but OSHA wants your company to be in compliance. The agency has a lot of resources designed to help your company maintain a safe, OSHA compliant workplace. For example, OSHA compliance has a safety training kit in both English and Spanish that they call a one-stop resource for all your training needs. Each kit contains a video program in VHS video or DVD, five posters, and thirty brochures to hand out to your employees. What's more, some kits contain compliance manuals to help you develop written safety policies for your company.
Even with the amount of information available, OSHA regulation violations still do occur. Violations can be described as a company failing to adhere to safety regulations. These violations can occur due to management or employees ignoring regulations, or failing to keep informed about current regulations.
Common violations seen by OSHA include failing to wear hearing protection or safety glasses, which were discovered as a result of employees loosing their hearing, or damaging their eyes. Another violation commonly seen involves a few companies who were cited for their haphazard way of documenting employee injuries. By not keeping proper records, it would be hard to assess what areas needed safety improvements. Lastly, another common violation found in some workplaces, are blocked safety doors that need to be used to escape in the event of an emergency.
Studying is not for everyone, but the training and certifications programs provided by the OSHA are certainly worth it. Training programs and certifications can be completed either online, or at various OSHA Training Institute (OTI) education centers, which have been grouped together by region.
Programs offered by the OSHA Training Institute include courses such as, “Electrical Standards,” “Health Hazard Awareness,” and “Hazardous Materials.”
OSHA has also established the “OSHA Outreach Training Program,” to teach students how to train others about safety in the workplace
Back in the day, a “glove was a glove was a glove.” You didn't have a lot of choice. You either wore what was available or you went without. Today, with greater emphasis on safety, gloves come to work in a dazzling array of styles and materials: Leather, Latex, Nitrile, Kevlar, Spectra, Cotton, String Knit, Canvas, Jersey, Plastic Dot, Hot Mill, High Heat, Zetex, Welding, Winter, Cotts, Chemical, Stainless Steel, PVC, Rubber, Butyl, Viton, neoprene and more. The type of work glove you choose will depend on what kind of trouble your hands could get into on the job. Before you start a job, check out an industrial outfitter like Mechanix on the net to determine which gloves will work best for you.
Deciphering OSHA regulations can be a daunting task, especially for smaller businesses that don't have the human resources to dedicate to compliance questions. Fortunately, OSHA has a number of programs in place designed to provide assistance with a broad range of compliance issues. If you are in doubt about OSHA compliance, or need help with a specific issue, go to the OSHA website at www.osha.gov. From this site you can access resources to help you prevent occupational injuries and illnesses, comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and learn about OSHA's cooperative programs.
According to OSHA, you are required to select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employee's hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes. While there are no ANSI standards for hand protection, the gloves you supply must be based on the performance characteristics of the glove in relation to the tasks to be performed.
Compliance to OSHA regulations can be achieved by ensuring every person in your workplace is educated about the rules set forth by the OSHA. However, as an employer, it is your duty to ensure your workplace follows these regulations. There are various tips that can be adopted to help your workers comply.
The first tip an employer can adopt to ensure compliance is to have regularly scheduled discussions on how to make the workplace environment safer. During these seminars, OSHA regulations can be continually stated and reinforced.
Another tip to help ensure OSHA regulation compliance in your workplace is to send out memos or safety updates reminding employees of the proper protective equipment to use, and how to perform care and maintenance for them.
A third tip to implement within your workplace is the use of brochures and pamphlets highlighting specific job-related regulations.
With the use of these tips, noncompliance can be eradicated among your employees.
According to the OSHA website, their training kits can help you meet all of your training needs. These kits are especially useful for companies without full time safety professionals on staff. You'll save time and money researching OSHA regulations and developing comprehensive compliance programs.
2. Ensure consistency in training through the use of video or DVD programs and easy to read booklets.
3. Develop effective new employee orientation programs utilizing professionally developed training materials.
4. Reduce overall training costs by utilizing reusable training materials.
5. Bundle training kits together to implement a comprehensive safety training program.
6. Train both your English and Spanish speaking employees with the same level of quality.
The most important tip about OSHA regulations, is not just about complying with these regulations, but also making sure you are up-to-date on recent changes, which might affect your workplace.
As new regulations are introduced, and old regulations are revised or discarded, knowing the current regulation and adhering to them is one of best ways to show compliance.
Some workplaces will implement OSHA regulations in the beginning, but fail to update their workplace on revisions to these regulations. As a result, a scenario can arise in which you are found to be in violation of OSHA regulations, by not keeping updated. So spend some time reading the current OSHA regulations to ensure compliance.
As an employer, or safety officer within your workplace, employees must be informed of how the OSHA regulations affect them. This can be achieved by meeting separately with each department, conducting a seminar or an afternoon meeting.
Not only should employees be told of the rules set by OSHA for their workplace, they should be encouraged to follow OSHA regulations, because in doing so, a safer work environment is created.
It is important that employees know that OSHA regulations are not a form of punishment, or some tedious rules to follow, but rather they have been established to keep them - and everyone around them - safe.
If you have been a witness to obvious safety regulation violations, and would like to file a complaint with OSHA, this is actually a simple process. OSHA has provided four different methods – by phone, fax, online, or postal mail - to submit your complaint.
After your complaint is received, OSHA will carry out an investigation into the details of your complaint to determine if a visit to your workplace is needed to view safety violations. If an onsite inspection occurs in the end, OSHA will send you a response detailing if any violations were discovered, and how the company will be penalized.
The Safety Health Achievement Recognition Program is a wonderful way for the OSHA to recognize those businesses or workplaces, which have compiled with OSHA safety regulations.
The certification and recognition in the SHARP program involves a visit by an OSHA consultant. The consultant will outline areas needing improvement, which might be hazardous to your employees. After improvement in these areas, it will then be determined if your business can become certified.
The OSHA consultation office will also monitor statistics as you lower your workplace injury and illness rates. The consultant must also be notified if any changes are made to the workplace, in case new dangers are introduced.
OSHA assigns top priority to reports of imminent dangers-accidents about to happen; second are fatalities or accidents serious enough to send three or more workers to the hospital. Third are employee complaints. Referrals from other government agencies are fourth. Fifth are targeted inspections-such as the Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on employers that report high injury and illness rates, and special emphasis programs that zero in on hazardous work such as trenching or equipment such as mechanical power presses. Follow-up inspections are the final priority. Leather gloves come in several grades or qualities of the split hide with higher prices indicating the better grades, although this may not produce better use.
OSHA has a rather “checkered” history since its inception as a result of passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. In its earlier years, OSHA was often criticized for their standards, which could be confusing, burdensome, and very expensive to implement. Much of the unhappiness also related to the inexact and often arbitrary enforcement practices of the agency. Many of these both perceived and real problems have been eliminated in the past fifteen years to the point that many regulations were simplified and made more reasonable to implement.
Changes to the method of computing and codifying OSHA's standards and increasing emphasis on chemical hazards and blood borne pathogens occurred during both the Clinton and Bush administrations. It's important to remember that OSHA doesn't act alone and is not always the “final word” in industrial safety. They work closely with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop their standards for industrial safety and personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, many states in the U.S. have adopted their own safety code which is integrated with OSHA standards to define the employer requirements to maintain a safe workplace.
Finally, when you read many provisions of the act, you will notice that the word “voluntary” appears often. This does not mean compliance is voluntary as OSHA has a staff of inspectors to ensure compliance and has the power to impose fines and even criminal penalties on companies who are not following proper procedures. Most of the voluntary issues revolve around the manner in which the safety guidelines are implemented, how employee safety training is conducted, and the type and style of PPE provided to employees.
OSHA now tries to give employers as many effective choices as possible to comply with safety requirements to increase compliance and help reduce costs to the companies involved while keeping a high level of safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act makes it mandatory for all employers to enter a record of work-related injuries or sickness. It is a good idea to download the required forms from the OSHA Web site.
The forms used, OSHA Form 300: “Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” are quite comprehensive and provides areas for the employer to describe the illness or injury each employee received. A summary of form 300 is submitted to the OSHA at the end of the year.
Record keeping was implemented by the OSHA as a way in which to keep track of various accidents or illnesses occurring in a particular workplace. Data from this can be used to highlight company with an unsafe track record, or a manufacturing industry with a common injury. Using this information, further regulations or inspections can be implemented to correct them.
No, NIOSH is not an Old Testament prophet, though their mission is to look out for the health and safety of America's working people. The National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) was formed in 1971 to conduct research, develop educational and training resources, and develop criteria for recommended standards in the area of occupational safety and health. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Public Health Service under the Department of Health and Human Services in the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government. To learn more visit their site: www.cdc.gov/niosh
No, OSHA isn't the name of a Sumo wrestler or a heavy metal band. The letters O.S.H.A. stand for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Congress created OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act on December 29, 1970. According to its official website, OSHA's mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. By all accounts, it has done a pretty creditable job. Since 1971, occupational deaths have been cut by 62% and injuries have declined by 42%.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|