Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, OSHA inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.
More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.
Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Powered industrial trucks
- Machine guarding
- Electrical wiring
- Electrical, general requirements
It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and OSHA’s top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures.
OSHA says far too many workers are killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Lockout/tagout and machine guarding (including lift trucks) violations are often the culprit here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.
The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment.
Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known.
Their list of top violations is far from comprehensive. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. They urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, OSHA has released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces.
OSHA has many additional resources, including a wealth of information on their website and their free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.
While aerial lifts are used frequently at construction, warehousing, and many other jobsites, they can pose potentially fatal hazards to workers. Aerial devices include boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, aerial ladders and vertical towers.
The major causes of injuries and fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip-overs, such as the one that killed Kevin Miranda in Taunton, Mass., on Aug. 18, 2015. Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. was fined more than $100,000 after OSHA inspectors found that the aerial lift was positioned on unleveled ground and determined that the company had not trained Miranda to recognize this hazard.
Learn about the fall-related risks and recommended safe work practices associated with this equipment by visiting the new NIOSH Aerial Lifts webpage. The page includes a Hazard Recognition Simulator designed to help you acclimate to aerial lift operation. Additional resources on aerial lift safety are available from OSHA.
One way to improve your aerial lift safety is to be sure your operators are thoroughly trained to operate aerial lifts, based on the kind you operate and the conditions and terrain you operate them under. Visit our training page to learn more about our training programs.
Making sure your aerial lifts are operating safety is to put them on a regular maintenance schedule. It doesn’t take much to make a safe aerial lift become very unsafe. Damaged tires, hydraulic lines, worn parts etc…are all ways to increase the dangers of operating your aerial lifts. Visit our service page to learn more about our service program.s
To speak to us about your aerial lift safety and service, please contact us or give us a call at 888-530-1832.
In recent articles about forklift fleet service, we have discussed the benefits of properly maintaining your equipment. There is no doubt that companies that engage in robust and comprehensive equipment maintenance save money in the long run and improve the efficiency of their forklift fleets.
Establishing a program that proactively maintains your equipment to maximize productivity takes just a bit of work. But with the right partner by your side, the process can be much easier to set up and manage. Following are three tips we suggest in order to establish programs that maximize productivity and reduce your overall costs.
We observe, most of the time, that all equipment in your facility are not utilized the same way or under the same conditions. Some equipment might sit idle for a few hours each day and lift/transport far less overall weight. We suggest not only analyzing the hours each piece of equipment is used, but also how it is used. A piece of equipment used outdoors will required more attention than the same piece of equipment used indoors in a warehouse setting. Using both quantitative and qualitative information will help you develop a service plan that treats each piece of equipment uniquely and provides for the proper level of maintenance.
Quantitative Information – This would include the number of hours used each year, the average weight of each load hauled, service history, equipment age and any other quantitative information available through any type of fleet management software you may use.
Qualitative Information – This information is usually observation-oriented and includes the type of conditions under which each forklift operates, and the training or experience level of the operator. This observation would also include the types of loads each piece of equipment hauls. Hauling seafood off the dock versus processing retail-ready seafood, for example, will result in two very different wear-and-tear scenarios.
Although they are required by OSHA, we have found that most companies do not perform pre-shift inspections. And we can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a call from a customer who has had to lock out a unit as a result of a pre-shift inspection because the unit is not fit for operation.
Pre-shift inspections will results in catching small maintenance issues before they blossom into giant repair headaches and dangerous scenarios. Performing inspections also reduces your liability should an accident occur during a shift. Being able to provide a recent and thorough inspection prior to operating the equipment will help your cause dramatically, should litigation occur.
You can find pre-shift inspection forms on our website HERE.
Having a service partner who has the experience, skills and trained repair staff to work with you is a major key to a successful program. Not all service providers are created equal; selecting one based on price could result in spending more without reaping the benefits. Instead, select a partner that has demonstrated to you that they understand your equipment, your operation and have the trained staff to execute your service plan. Doing so will give you the desired outcome for your operation. To help ascertain the ability of your potential service partner, inquire about the following:
- Training that the service technicians receive (formal and informal)
- Experience level of service staff (including technicians)
- Level of experience in servicing your type of equipment
- References from other clients that utilized similar equipment under similar operating conditions
- Visit their facility to see how it operates. You can pick up pretty quickly whether the facility is organized and professionally represented.
Taking the time to establish a comprehensive service program takes a bit more work up-front, but in the long run it pays for itself many times over. To discuss your service program with our trained staff of service professionals, please contact us, or call us at 888-530-1832.
History has taught us that quality, safety and productivity result from the setting of and adherence to high standards. Although OSHA has at times, been a much-maligned agency, the results on workplace safety speak for themselves. Their setting of high standards for workplace safety has resulted in a dramatic drop in worker injury and death. Their agency has also made a tremendous effort to not only create and enforce high standards of safety, but also to provide education and information to actually help companies in their efforts to create a safe and productive workplace. Below are the results.
- In 1913 there were a recorded 23,000 industrial deaths among 38 million US workers (source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics)
- Between 1935 and 1960 there were over 400,000 workers killed in industrial related accidents in the US.
- In the 1960’s there was a 20% increase in reported workplace accidents.
- Although the workplace doubled in size between 1970 and 2009, worker deaths DECREASED from over 14,000 to about 4,400.
- Reported workplace injuries and illnesses decreased from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to less than 4 incidents per 100 workers in 2010
Much of the ground that has been made in workplace safety is a result of creation and enforcement of strict workplace safety. These standards are enforced through a consistent measure of inspections. Many standards called for requirements of employers to provide a wide variety of PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) not previously required by employers.