The month of June is National Safety Month, an event focused on bringing awareness to safety concerns in the workplace. Martin Technical, a member of the National Safety Council, wants to recognize National Safety Month and its significance. With such a high fatality rate in 2020 in the United States, with 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded (a 10.7% decrease from 5,333 in 2019), it is important to draw attention to this national topic. While this number is decreasing, National Safety Month is an event tailored around the continuation of the fatal work injury rate.
Top OSHA Safety Concerns
The list of top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA for all industries is released publicly every year to attract attention to safety concerns in the workplace that are often overlooked. With better knowledge and understanding of safety hazards that are often missed, companies can better prepare their workplace.
Additional to their top safety citations OSHA has also released information on their “Fatal Four” leading causes of fatalities in the workplace.
Falls- 36% of workplace fatalities
Struck by Objects- 10% of workplace fatalities
Electrocutions- 9% of workplace fatalities
Caught in Between- 2% of workplace fatalities
How can you address Safety Concerns?
With proper safety training in place the risk of workplace fatalities decreases. All industries should focus on building and maintaining robust training programs for fall protection, lockout tagout, machine guarding, and arc flash, which help to provide education on the fatal four in the workplace. Martin Technical, a leading safety solutions company providing services and implementation solutions, has in-house subject matter experts whose mission is to help companies build their own customized and efficient training programs. Working with industry experts can boost your safety program, build or strengthen safety cultures, and combat the fatal four workplace concerns.
The Importance of National Safety Month
National Safety Month is a national movement with the goal of bringing awareness to safety in the workplace, ensuring every individual makes it home safe after each day, to enjoy the best part of their day. Join the cause and continue to help spread awareness today.
Weston, WI – An aluminum manufacturer was cited for Machine Guarding violations by OSHA in Weston, Wisconsin for $159,522 for failure to establish safe machine guarding procedures and failure of training on lockout tagout procedures. The citations for machine guarding led to serious injuries and hospitalization of an employee after being struck by a puller, while the machine was trying to unjam a piece of aluminum.
The large statewide company focuses on aluminum extrusions, fabrication, coating services, plastics painting services, along with warehouse and freighting. The aluminum manufacturer is a multi-million-dollar company with over 600 employees across 4 locations throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Violations and Citations
The aluminum manufacturer has a history of investigations and violations with OSHA citing the company eight different times for safety violations, including past machine safety violations, between 2012-2019. OSHA investigators determined that safety guards were not utilized around an 8-inch extrusion press line, which is intended to prevent employees from direct contact with the puller. Lockout tagout procedures were not utilized preventing further danger to employees.
OSHA concluded the company could have prevented the accident if they had provided adequate lockout tagout safety training as well as installed proper machine safety guards. The investigation concluded the company failed to:
Apply 6 ft chain link safety guards around the 8-inch extrusion press line
Provide training on proper machine safety procedures
These violations of safety procedures resulted in three “serious” violations, totaling $159,522 in penalties.
“Machine guards are designed to protect workers from suffering serious injuries, but they are only effective when used properly,” said OSHA’s Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “OSHA will hold this company and others accountable for failing to comply with safety and health regulations put in place to prevent worker injuries.”
In summary, companies must be cognizant of the repercussions of not using safety procedures required by OSHA. With proper safety training and lockout tagout practices, this situation could have been avoided and the release of hazardous energy could have been prevented. Proper safety training will help ensure safe work environments and can avoid on-the-job work injuries. Learn more about safety trainings and proper lockout tagout program compliance and procedures.
In FY 2021, lockout tagout ranked seventh on OSHA’S Top 10 list of most frequently cited standards with 1,670 total violations. Furthermore, within the standard, 1910.147(c)(6), the “periodic inspection” was the third most frequently cited section, with 255 violations. Subsequently, the fourth was standard 1910.147(c)(1), with 162 violations related to lockout tagout procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections. Thus, NIOSH reminds employers of required annual lockout tagout inspections on written hazardous energy control procedures.
The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) addresses the practices and procedures to disable machinery or equipment. It is essential to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities. In sum, the standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, and other energy sources.
Useful Tips and Reminders for Developing and Maintaining a Lockout Tagout Program
Compliance with the lockout tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation. NIOSH has offered tips and reminders for developing and maintaining a lockout/tagout program as below:
The written procedures shall include the scope of procedures, intended purpose, names of authorized personnel, rules for shift change, transfer of locks, and specific methods used.
A periodic inspection must include a demonstration of the procedures and be conducted while the authorized employee performs service/maintenance on a machine/equipment.
Each energy control procedure must be separately inspected to ensure the procedure is adequate and properly implemented by the authorized employee.
The inspector must be a knowledgeable lockout tagout authorized employee who isn’t currently performing lockout tagout on the energy control procedure under inspection.
The inspector can’t implement any part of the procedure during the inspection but must observe the procedure implementation for the evaluated equipment or machine. Additionally, the inspector should speak with at least one authorized employee who implements the procedure to ensure a thorough understanding of the procedure.
Lastly, the employer must retrain the employee if the inspection reveals deviations from the written procedures or inadequacies in the knowledge of procedures.
In summary, performing annual lockout audits can be a daunting task without the right knowledge and right tools. Industry subject matter experts with Martin Technical can help organizations identify and fill gaps in their current lockout tagout program. Typically, the evaluations cover ten topics and over 100 investigation points through observation of work processes, documentation, and administration of the program. Upon completion, a report containing compliance status, code references for the deficiencies, corrective actions, and best practices will be provided. There are three Annual Lockout Program Audits as below:
On-Site Audits It is performed by a subject matter lockout expert typically taking two days.
Rapid LOTO Audit App
TheRapid LOTO app is an award-winning self-auditing tool for periodic lockout inspections. The app takes users through each step of their program and provides a variety of reports and tools to improve their lockout program.
Customize Auditing Programs
This inspection program offers various hybrid programs, including software, apps, live inspections, training, and online information. This option is best to create an audit program that best meets any organization’s needs.
For the 11th consecutive fiscal year, OSHA’s fall protection(29 CFR 1926.501) remains the agency’s most frequently cited standard. While the Fall Protection Training Requirements(29 CFR 1926.503) was the agency’s seventh most frequently cited standard in FY 2021. In the meantime, fall fatalities from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. Above all, the BLS data reports that 1,008 construction workers died on the job, with 351 of those falling from elevation. In an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries, organizations should participate in OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down event and activities. The one-week event aims to raise fall hazard awareness and reinforce fall protection training across the country.
All Workplaces Are Encouraged to Hold a Safety Stand-Down
A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. All workplaces should hold a stand-down event or meeting to focus on fall hazards and reinforce the importance of preventing falls. However, participation is not limited to the construction industry, and no business is too small to participate. Workplaces that are not exposed to fall hazards should also leverage this opportunity to promote a positive safety culture. In fact, OSHA recorded that many non-construction employers held Stand-Down events.
In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, contractors, general industry employers, the U.S. Military and other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.
Additionally, several domestic and international companies working outside of the United States participated in past Stand-Downs, and OSHA hopes to have more international participation this year.
How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down
Generally, managers should plan a Stand-Down that works best for their workplace schedule. Accordingly, some of the recommended practices in conducting a Safety Stand-Down are as follows:
Conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk.
Inspections of safety equipment, developing rescue plans or discussing job-specific hazards.
Develop presentations or activities that provide information about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals, and expectations. In addition, sharing hands-on exercises, including a worksite walkaround, equipment checks, etc., can also increase retention.
Besides, consider inviting the subcontractors, owners, architects, engineers, or others associated with your project to participate in the Stand-Down for a collaborative effort.
Employers may share information on their Stand-Down events, Fall Prevention Programs, or suggestions with OSHA on how initiatives such as these can be improved. Employers can also download a certificate of participation following the event.
Resources for Preventing Fall Hazards
In summary, employers should provide competent person training and proper supervision in the workplace, ensuring workers are aware of fall hazards. Virtual Reality Fall Protection Training can provide an effective and engaging way to practice and validate fall safety requirements without the real-world consequences. Learn more about VR curriculums developed by industry experts to help raise risk awareness and to help prevent fall accidents.
Sulphur, LA – After a flash fire and subsequent explosion, OSHA initiated an investigation at a chemicals facility in Sulphur, Louisiana. The tragedy occurred during preventive care and maintenance activities, and it seriously injured six workers on Sept. 27, 2021.
According to OSHA’s investigation, the contract employer didn’t instruct each contract employee on the known potential hazards. The incident has exposed workers to fire, explosion, and toxic release hazards related to isolation plug failure at the Quench tower pipe.
Subsequently, OSHA issued citations with 11 serious violations as summarized below, to four employers, and the total penalties amounted to $139,427:
29 CFR 1910.146(c)(8)(iv): The host employer did not coordinate entry operations when both host employer personnel and contractor personnel were working in or near permit spaces. The violation has exposed workers to explosion hazards at the DA-101 Quench Tower.
29 CFR 1910.146(d)(2): Under the permit-required confined space program required by 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4), the employer did not identify and evaluate the hazards of permit spaces before employees entered. The hazards were associated with isolating the space and the welding space, exposing workers to explosion hazards.
29 CFR 1910.146(f)(7): The entry permit that documented compliance and authorized entry to a permit space did not identify the permit space’s hazards. The company didn’t identify the hazards associated with isolating the DA-101 Quench Tower and welding on the DA-101 Quench Tower. This violation has exposed employees to the explosion hazards
“Employers are responsible for ensuring employees have a safe workplace by having the correct confined space permits and a plan to inspect equipment to prevent serious injuries,” said Area Director Roderic Chube in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “In addition, employers should also ensure that employees are not exposed to an airborne concentration of benzene above the permissible exposure limits.”
In summary, Martin Technical encourages all organizations to provide proper confined space training to their employees. Safety training for employees helps prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of workplace safety. Also, learn more about state-of-the-art VR training with modules on Confined Spaces Virtual Reality (VR) Training. VR training provides safer safety training enabling trainees to experience real-world consequences, all while retaining more of what they learn. Employers can also have their trainees demonstrate and validate their skills remotely using VR training. VR safety training also significantly reduces human error and provides trainee data to track the completion and accuracy of tasks.
STERLING, MA – OSHA cited a multinational manufacturer for $370,000 due to failure to establish and use lockout tagoutprocedures and provide training. Investigators from OSHA determined that the worker in the Sterling facility was sprayed with hot liquid plastic. The accident caused severe burns to the employee who changed a screen on a plastic bag extruder machine.
The company was founded in 1967, and supplies and manufactures products for households, healthcare, personal care, and food and beverage industries. The company serves North and South American, European, and Asian markets with headquarters in Evansville, Indiana. It has 47,000 global employees at more than 295 locations, including the Sterling facility that manufactures plastic bags.
Violations and Citations
The plastic packaging manufacturer has a history of workplace safety and health investigations. OSHA has inspected the manufacturer in various U.S. locations more than 40 times during the last five years. These inspections include two fatality inspections in New Jersey and Wisconsin; both were related to lockout tagout violations. The manufacturer has contested both inspections.
OSHA concluded that the manufacturer could have prevented the accident if they had complied with the lockout tagout requirements and provided personal protective equipment. Based on the investigation in Sterling, OSHA found that the company failed to:
Establish and use lockout tagout procedures.
Provide training to workers to use lockout tagout procedures.
Eliminate employee exposure to protect workers from the extruder machine while they performed service or maintenance.
Conduct periodic inspections to ensure workers follow the safety procedures.
Provide appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure that employees were protected when servicing the extruder.
Subsequently, OSHA cited the manufacturer for two willful violations and one repeat violation and has proposed close to $370K in penalties.
“Berry Global Inc. could have prevented this worker’s injuries if the company had the required safeguards,” said OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye in Springfield, Massachusetts. “OSHA will hold employers accountable when they knowingly disregard their legal responsibility to provide workers a safe and healthful workplace.”
Berry Global Inc. also meets the Severe Violator Enforcement Program requirements because one of the proposed willful, and the proposed repeat citation, are high emphasis standards of lockout tagout.
However, the company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
APPLETON, WI – OSHA cited an Appleton-based contractor twice in six months for exposing workers to deadly fall hazards.
In June 2021, OSHA cited the company during an inspection at a Neenah job site and proposed $21,140 in penalties. The citation included failing to provide workers with fall protection equipment and training and a ladder extending at least 3 feet above the landing surface.
Despite the consequences of the June citation, OSHA has issued one willful, one repeat, and one serious violation six months later. The proposed penalties total $49,722, based on OSHA’s observations of six roofers atop a two-story Algoma duplex on Nov. 2, 2021.
The Contractor’s History of Exposing Workers to Fall Hazards
The pair of recent inspections continues the company’s history of failing to protect its roofing workers. In 2017 and 2018, OSHA cited the company for similar hazards at other job sites. The company has neither paid OSHA penalties assessed in June 2021 nor complied with requirements to provide abatement information.
“Apple Roofing Solutions continues to show a flagrant disregard for the safety and well-being of its workers and the law. Fall hazards make roofing work among the construction industry’s most dangerous jobs. It is also OSHA’s most frequently cited hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “This company seems willing to ignore the dangers of falls and the potential for serious injuries, debilitation, or worse. OSHA will hold Apple Roofing Solutions, and other employers like them, accountable for failing to meet the legal requirements to provide safe working conditions.”
Fall Protection Remains OSHA’s Most Frequently Cited Standard
For the 11th consecutive fiscal year, OSHA’s fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501) remains the agency’s most frequently cited standard. At the same time, the Fall Protection Training Requirements(29 CFR 1926.503) was the agency’s seventh most frequently cited standard in FY 2021. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in 2020 that 1,008 construction workers died on the job, with 351 of those falling from elevation.
Thus, employers should have a competent person training and supervising the workplace, ensuring workers are aware of fall hazards.
In summary, Martin Technical encourages organizations to develop a robust workplace safety strategy by scheduling regularworkplace fall protection training. The training provides an effective and engaging way to practice and validate safety requirements without stopping production. In addition, learn more aboutVR curriculums developed by subject matter experts created to raise risk awareness and provide training for preventive measures against fall accidents.
WASHINGTON – On February 15, the Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by OSHA to improve worker safety and health. This ensures that the agency’s general industry and construction industry rules reflect current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology. OSHA proposes updating the design and manufacturing requirements of the powered industrial trucks standards for general industry and construction.
The Proposed Update
The proposal would update design and construction requirements for industrial trucks powered by an electric motor or internal combustion engine. This includes fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks.
The proposed updates would add references to the latest design and construction requirements published by the American National Standards Institute. And the references are also in conjunction with the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation.
Since OSHA adopted the 1969 version of the ANSI B56.1, ANSI has revised its consensus standard twelve times between 1975 to 2020. The three B56 volumes cover all powered industrial trucks that are currently within the scope of OSHA’s standards (§§ 1910.178(a)(1) and 926.602(c)(1)(vi)). They encompass all equipment initially covered by the consensus standard cited in OSHA’s existing standards (ANSI B56.1-1969). OSHA is not aware of any other consensus standards covering powered industrial trucks in its scope. But the agency requests comments on whether any other such standards exist and should be referenced by OSHA.
In addition to updating the design and construction requirements for future manufactured powered industrial trucks, it will also address equipment manufactured before the final rule’s effective date.
This proposed update is part of OSHA’s regulatory projects to update nearly 200 agency standards. The updates will be helpful to reflect the current versions of international consensus and national industry standards.
Violations of the powered industrial trucks are consistently on the OSHA Top Ten Most Frequently Cited Safety and Health Violations. Several thousand injuries related to forklifts occur in U.S. workplaces every year. Read more on the safety and compliance requirements for forklifts. Martin Technical encourages organizations to develop a robust workplace safety strategy by scheduling regularforklift training. The Forklift Train-The-Trainer and Operator Training Course are designed to aid general industry and construction workers in the safe operation of forklifts. This step-by-step approach proves helpful for workers to be knowledgeable of OSHA and manufacturers’ safety requirements for the use of forklifts.
CREST HILL, IL – A 42-year-old Chicago area employee suffered a fatal injury while cleaning a machine at a Crest Hill frozen pizza manufacturer.
Rich Products Corp. is a multinational food manufacturer that operates about 100 locations globally and reports annual sales exceeding $4 billion. The company manufactures frozen pizzas, desserts, and other grocery items for food service, retail, in-store bakeries, and delis. It employs about 375 people at its Crest Hills facility and more than 7,400 nationwide.
OSHA issued one willful violation to the Buffalo, New York-based food manufacturer and proposed $145,027 in penalties. The agency placed Rich Products in OSHA’s Severe Violator Program for a willful violation that led to an employee fatality. The company has an extensive history of OSHA violations nationwide.
“This preventable tragedy is another example of why employers must ensure lockout/tagout procedures are in place before allowing workers to clean or operate machinery. Employers who fail to follow safety standards and train workers in operating procedures will be held accountable,” said OSHA Chicago South Area Director James Martineck in Tinley Park.
The company has 15 business days to comply, request a conference, or contest before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Lockout/Tagout is among the Top 10 Most Cited Standards
OSHA’s lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards are among the agency’s top 10 most frequently cited standards in FY 2021. The lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147) was cited 1,698 times in the fiscal year (FY) 2021. At the same time, Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212) were cited 1,113 times.
Safety culture is the way safety is perceived, valued, prioritized, and integrated into all activities in the workplace. Rather than referring to the company’s safety policy and program, it is a set of core values and behaviors that prioritize safety. Safety culture encapsulates the mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors of workers, supervisors, managers, and owners toward safety in the workplace.
Benefits of building a Positive Safety Culture
Having a positive safety culture within an organization promotes more than safety. It is vital for a successful and effective health and safety program. According to OSHA, developing a strong safety culture has a significant impact on the accident reduction of any process.
Additionally, a positive safety culture helps strengthen worker confidence and retention, organizational behavior, and even productivity.
Core Elements of Building a Positive Safety Culture
While qualities may differ from organization to organization, companies with a strong safety culture share several characteristics, including:
Management Leadership – Senior leaders demonstrate their commitment to continuous safety and health improvement, communicate that commitment to workers, and set program expectations and responsibilities. Managers shall make safety and health a core organizational value, establish safety and health goals and objectives, provide adequate resources and support for the program, and set a good example. Often, a shift in safety culture is unsuccessful because there is without top-down support. The change is temporary and ends by slipping back into old patterns, or there is no change.
Worker Participationand Ownership – Workers are committed to continuously identifying safety hazards and improving the work environment for the better. Once the employees understand safety standards, they can help with establishing, operating, evaluating, and improving the safety and health program. Team participation can be taken a step further by improving safety dialogue between workers and management and showing workers how to help keep each other safe. Organizations should empower employees to improve safety in their work area and throughout the facility.
Hazard Identification, Assessment, Prevention, and Control – Involve workers who often have the best understanding of the conditions that create hazards and insights into how to control them. Identify and evaluate options for preventing and controlling hazards, and develop plans to protect workers during emergencies. After assessing existing hazards, exposures, and control measures, periodic inspections and reassessments shall follow to identify the root causes and new hazards. A plan should also be developed to ensure that controls are implemented, interim protection is provided, progress is tracked, and the effectiveness of controls is verified. Martin Technical encourages organizations to develop a robust workplace safety strategy by scheduling regular hazard assessments includinghazards of arc flash, lockout tagout, and electrical safety.
Safety Procedures and Equipment – Inspect the workplace with workers and ask them to identify any activity, piece of equipment, or material that concerns them. Other good practices include posting signs around the facility indicating different safety procedures, regular communication on safety tips, and announcements on new safety procedures.
Education and Training – Providing ample opportunities for employees to access safety resources, including signage, safety stickers, regular safety meetings, and safety training, is essential in creating a safe work environment. All workers should be trained to recognize workplace hazards and understand the control measures implemented.
Consider developing training programs with the help of industry subject matter experts that offer blended and interactive training solutions. Ideally, a comprehensive training program should include a good mix of on-site training, hands-on validation, online learning, webinars, toolbox talks, and virtual reality coursesin multiple languages for easy access.
Maintaining the Safety Culture by Continuous Evaluation and Improvement
Creating a positive workplace safety culture goes a long way towards changing the mindset, and the actions, of both workers and management. Often, organizations recognize the need to change the workplace safety culture in response to a culture that’s become complacent. The effects of complacency can be catastrophic in causing accidents, injuries, illnesses, costly fines, and even loss of life.
Continuous processes shall be established to monitor safety program performance, verify program implementation, and identify the shortcomings and opportunities for improvement.
A positive safety culture will be easier to build and maintain when employees feel comfortable reporting concerns and believe that the reporting process is positive. Keeping team members motivated and updated about the improvement is essential to maintaining a positive safety culture. Recognizing individuals and departments for improvements can effectively keep team members excited and invested in building a positive safety culture.