Q1 2021 Manufacturing Risk Advisor
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) not only keeps records of the most frequently cited standards overall, but also within particular industries. Understanding these standards and taking proactive steps to avoid violations can go a long way toward ensuring workplace safety. When it comes to the manufacturing industry, the following standards are commonly cited and make up more than 45% of all violations:
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)—Year over year, poor lockout/tagout practices regularly lead to violations for manufacturers. Per OSHA’s standards, any machine that has the potential to release energy must be set to a zero-energy state and locked to prevent the accidental start up and release of that energy. To protect employees and avoid violations, businesses should create a written lockout/tagout program that outlines machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures, employee training practices and protocols for auditing the program annually.
- Respiratory protection—This standard is in place to ensure employees are protected against airborne contaminants. In manufacturing settings, hazards can include gases, vapors, dusts, mists, fumes, smoke, sprays and fog—all of which can negatively affect employee health and safety. To safeguard workers, employers must have a written respiratory protection program in place. Additionally, they must select respirators appropriate for the hazard and ensure employees are medically fit to wear a respirator. Employees should be trained on how to wear respirators properly and fit tested to ensure the respirator can protect the employee from the hazard.
- Machine guarding—Failing to follow machine guarding practices is not only a common source of injury, but it’s also a frequently cited OSHA standard in manufacturing. In general, machine guards are used to protect employees against direct contact with moving parts of equipment, debris, kickbacks, and mechanical and electrical failures. In general, OSHA requires that all machines include the proper guards. It should be noted that there are specific guarding protocols for individual machines and employers will need to regularly train their employees on the appropriate machine guarding protocols.
- Hazard communication—Employees have the right to know about the hazards of chemicals they work with every day and what precautions they need to take to remain safe on the job. That’s where hazard communication comes into play. Hazard communication programs typically include a written program, safety data sheets for all hazardous chemicals, an up-to-date list of chemicals, chemical labeling practices and employee training.
For more information on these topics and ways your business can protect its employees, contact us today.