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Category: Safety Products & Services
Volume: 40
Issue: 2
Article No.: 5694

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Back To Article Directory - Mar/Apr-19

SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Are You Ready For The New Year?

As we enter 2019, I am shocked after visiting many large manufacturing companies in 2018 and while conducting machine guarding audits and training that I find that most of these very large and well-known companies have still failed to protect their workers safety by safeguarding their machines. Many of these companies have been in operation before The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) became law in 1970. Many of these companies have formal safety & health professionals and are paid a good salary to find these hazards and bring them to management to have them corrected but yet they walk past these obvious serious hazards.

I even had one large manufacture tell me that they did not have the money to correct over 650 machines that have potential serious amputation hazards. Yet on their website they state “Free cash flow increased by 52%, from CHF 1.9 billion to CHF 2.9 billion.” So why could they not protect their workers from being injured and they also state that they only average 31 machine amputation per year? Some of these companies were also OSHA VPP companies where all hazards must be abated but in many cases unless there is a serious injury OSHA does not come into that place of employment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its preliminary top 10 violations for 2018 in late October at the 2018 National Safety Council Congress & Expo .

These standards were the most frequently cited during OSHA’s fiscal year that ended September 30. According to OSHA, the list serves to increase awareness of these standards so employers can take steps to find and fix the hazards to prevent injury or illness.

Fall protection has topped the list of most-cited OSHA violations for eight years in a row, and many of the other standards continue to be in the top 10 year after year. The only new item in 2018 is eye and face protection at number 10.

1. Fall protection – general requirements
2. Hazard communication
3. Scaffolding
4. Respiratory protection
5. Lockout/tagout
6. Ladders
7. Powered industrial trucks
8. Fall protection – training requirements
9. Machine guarding
10. Eye and face protection

While reviewing the list, it is important to remain aware that OSHA is a small agency. When tallied up to include its state partners, OSHA only has 2,100 inspectors who responsible for the health and safety of 130 million American workers, employed at more than 8 million work sites. This translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers. As a result, some serious injuries are not reported and thousands of potential violations go without citation or fines. In fact, numerous studies have shown that government counts of occupational injury are underestimated by as much as 50 percent. Employers are required to record all injuries meeting the OSHA’s “recordable injury” criteria (except minor first-aid cases) on the OSHA 300 Log, and those meeting the ‘reportable’ criteria (e.g., hospitalizations or deaths), are to be reported to OSHA immediately, or within 24 hours of occurrence, as per the criteria defined in 29 CFR 1904. But it doesn’t mean all of them do.

The absence of required machine safeguarding remains a perennial member of OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations, and 2017 was no exception. It was named number eight on the list with a total of 1,933 violations. These violations refer to OSHA 1910.212 for failing to have machines and equipment adequately guarded. Any machine part, function, or process that might cause injury should be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine may result in a contact injury to the operator or others in the area, the hazard should be removed or controlled.

The repercussions for employers putting workers in harm’s way remain small under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. The average federal fine for a serious workplace safety violation was $2,402 in fiscal year 2016, according to the most recent report by the AFL-CIO. And the median penalty for killing a worker was $6,500.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, manufacturing plants reported approximately 2,000 accidents that led to workers suffering crushed fingers or hands, or had a limb amputated in machine-related accidents. The bulk of these accidents occurred while removing jammed objects from a machine, cleaning or repairing the machine, or performing basic maintenance. These injuries were all largely preventable by following basic machine safeguarding precautions.

Training & Education
Ignorantia juris non excusat (“ignorance of the law excuses not”). Recognizing that education is key to safety, Podojil & Associates, Inc. has offered its Machine Safeguarding Seminars for more than four decades. The International Association of Safety, Health & Environmental Professionals (IASHEP) also offers both Certified Machine Safeguarding Specialist classroom training and also online education for these subjects.

If your organization is interested in safeguarding solutions, consider a Machine Risk Assessment or Machine Safeguarding Assessment as the critical first step in any machine guarding process as outlined in ANSI B11. Should you have any questions on Machine Safeguarding, Podojil & Associates has been safeguarding machinery for over 40 years. We are one of the oldest and most well-established safety, health & environmental consulting companies in the United States.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.

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