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Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
SAFETY SOLUTIONS
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: OSHA Is on the Move

If you watch the headlines today in the OSHA news, OSHA is stepping up their enforcement efforts especially in the plastic industry and concentrating their efforts on process safety, lockout and tagout, hazard communication, machine guarding and electrical safety standards.

Are you ready if OSHA visits your site? The agency has received some heat for not issuing citations to employers who are violating occupational safety and health regulations. Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health says the agency will respond as usual to reports of fatalities and complaints, conducting full investigations and issuing citations where warranted. The agency has not gone soft on enforcement, he says; it is one part of the workplace safety picture.

Enforcement

Richard Fairfax, Director of OSHA’s enforcement programs, says that until the hurricane season of 2005 struck, the agency was on target to exceed its enforcement goals for fiscal year 2006, which runs from Sept. 30 to Sept. 30. In fiscal year 2005, the agency had a goal of conducting 37,700 inspections; the final tally was 38,714.

“The last few years, we’ve exceeded our goal. The only caution (for fiscal year 2006) is the tremendous resources tied up with the hurricanes. We have people tied up in regions IV and VI who are still providing technical assistance,” says Fairfax.

Fairfax says that as of Nov. 30, 2005, the agency had 960 workplaces that met the criteria for the agency’s Enhanced Enforcement Program, designed to address employers who have been cited repeatedly but haven’t corrected their problems, The initiative impacts establishments that received OSHA citations with the highest severity of willful violations, multiple serious violations at the highest level of severity, repeat violations at the originating establishment, failure-to-abate notices or a serious or willful violation associated with a fatality.

The Site-Specific Targeting Program, which targets companies with injury and illness rates generally twice the national average, remains a strong enforcement tool, says Fairfax. The agency sends out 13,000 to 14,000 letters each year to employers, and a certain percentage of those workplaces will receive a targeted inspection. The agency planned to conduct over 4,000 worksite inspections last year and is finishing up 2005 inspections now. Letters for the 2006 SST program will be sent to employers in February, he adds.

In many cases, the compliance officers conducting those inspections will be better educated than in previous years. Programs started under former OSHA Administrator John Henshaw to encourage compliance officers and other staff members to receive professional certification as certified safety professionals or as certified industrial hygienists continue.

Doing the Right Thing

One of the most popular programs ever launched by OSHA has been the Voluntary Protection Program. Nearly 1,400 worksites in federal and state-plan states participate in the program, which has grown 15 percent a year for the past 5 years. VPP sites typically have injury and illness rates 50 percent below the rates for their industries.

The best thing about VPP, says Paula White, OSHA’s Director Of Cooperative and State Programs, is the fact that 70 percent of the participants mentor other sites. “These are model workplaces, and they are spreading that culture to other worksites,” she says.

VPP continues to grow and the agency plans to expand programs such as the Corporate VPP program, in which six companies participated in 2005 on a corporate level, rather than on a worksite level. Six additional companies have asked to join the corporate program, and they will be entering the program, if they meet the criteria, in 2006. The VPP Challenge program, aimed at employers who are working toward VPP participation but need more mentoring before they are ready to apply, partners 12 administrators with 40 coordinators and the 60 employers who are active participants in the program. Those employers represent 21,000 employees and 82 unions, says White. Plans are to continue the growth of that program in 2006 as well.

Last year, the agency sponsored the first conference for small employers participating in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). There are 843 participants in the SHARP program – 273 are new to the program this year – and they tallied injury and illnesses rates approximately 25 percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics average for their industries, says White. The plan is to hold similar conferences – which focus on best practices – every year.

Did you receive and OSHA citation last year? Remember that the letters are being sent out by OSHA this month and if your injuries are higher than the national average for your industry, you can bet that OSHA is watching you. Many consulting companies like ours have on-line OSHA training available for you to use. The cost for taking these courses are usually less than $19.00 for a regulatory course. Take a look at these regulatory courses by visiting our site at www.podojilconsulting.com. If you are interested in becoming a OSHA VPP site, let the magazine or me know and we can offer you help. Want to lower your insurance cost? Become an OSHA VPP Star site. If you become an OSHA partner, you will be taken off their list of employers who they will visit this coming year.

Finally, we received many calls regarding our article in the last issue on Workplace Violence and thank you for your questions and your support. We are here to help you and your company!


Following-up on last issue’s Safety Solutions column: Violence in the Workplace which touched on risk, prevention and legislation regarding workplace violence, we wanted to expand more on having employees trained to recognize and deal with the potential for violence.

Recognition

Managers and staff should watch for employees with a potential for violence. They can be:

  • Humorless
  • Emotionally volatile
  • Type A personalities
  • Loners
  • May have recently had a loss (divorce, bankruptcy, etc.)
  • May have a drug or alcohol problem

Responding to Violence

  • Have and communicate in writing a policy that outlines threatening behavior will not be tolerated and discipline will result.
  • Require employees to report any such behavior immediately. Some companies even discipline employees who fail to report threatening behaviors to assure all employees take the issue seriously.
  • At any instance of threatening behavior, take action. Do not allow “I was just kidding”, “He always talks like that” or “She doesn’t mean it” to deter you. You cannot differentiate who is kidding or who really means it, so you must take action for every instance. Reasonable employees will understand; employees who do not should be watched more closely.
  • Take immediate action - remember that perpetrators of violence rarely start off with a single, large violent act. They test boundaries first, to see what they can get away with; you must try to stop them before behaviors escalate.
  • Start with verbal warnings, documented to their personnel file and let the employee know that progressive discipline will ensue if the behavior continues. Follow up with written warnings, suspensions, requirements to seek counseling as a condition of continued employment and even termination if the behavior does not cease. Always consult your bargaining agreement if you are a union shop.
  • Request your local police sit in on disciplinary meetings if you feel threatened.
  • Notify police of names, addresses and vehicles of disgruntled employees so they can be alerted during and off company hours for unusual activity.
  • Let the employee know that the authorities have been contacted.
Do not deter from your policy for any reason. You must make clear that the behavior is not permissible and negative actions will result.
Remember, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, contact local authorities or experts for additional information.

For more information, click on the Author Biography at the top of this page.

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