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February 2010

January 2010

OSHA's Greatest Hits: Top 10 Citations in 2009

Webb Hartley  Posted by Hartley Webb

OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards for fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009) was released to the National Safety Council during its annual Congress and Expo.


The results did not show a great deal of change from the previous year.  The same 10 violations areas are in the top ten and the top three are the same as previous years.   Overall violations were up almost 30 percent from fiscal year 2008, and 81 percent of the violations were either serious or willful violations.


Here is how they were reported via the National Safety Council's announcement:


1. Scaffolding – 9,093 violations

Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.


2. Fall Protection – 6,771 violations

Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.


3. Hazard Communication – 6,378 violations

Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.


4. Respiratory Protection – 3,803 violations

Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.


5. Lockout-Tag out – 3,321 violations

"Lockout-Tag out” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.


 6. Electrical (Wiring) – 3,079 violations

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.


7. Ladders – 3,072 violations

Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.


8. Powered Industrial Trucks – 2,993 violations

Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.


9. Electrical – 2,556 violations

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.


10. Machine Guarding – 2,364 violations

Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.


The following are the standards for which OSHA assessed the highest penalties in fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009):

  1. Fall protection, construction
  2. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  3. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general
  4. Excavations, requirements for protective systems, construction
  5. Machines, general requirements, general industry
  6. General duty clause 
  7. Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals
  8. Ladders, construction
  9. Powered industrial trucks, general
  10. Aerial lifts

Safety Webinars: Worth an hour!

MEMIC's winter schedule of workplace safety webinars opens this Thursday (Jan. 21). MEMIC customers and their employees will find plenty to like about this series of webinars. Each topic is addressed in an hour or less and you don't even have to leave your desk! On this Thursday at 1:30 p.m., delve into the basics of office ergonomics with "The Office: Ergonomics Edition", hosted by Allan Brown. Next, on Thursday, Jan. 28, customers can learn to "Get the Most out of MEMIC's Online Tools", hosted by John Dodge. And, Thursday, Feb. 4, sign on to "Accident Investigation: Time to Right a Wrong" hosted by Jay Hurin and Peter Koch.

The remaining winter schedule includes the topics such as back safety,  the secrets to great safety committees, and how to help your aging workforce avoid injuries. As always, all are free to MEMIC policyholders.

Cold Work Environments – How the Body Reacts

Clark Dan Posted by Dan Clark

As a cold snap hit much of the country this week, it’s time to remember the risks that workers who brave outdoor conditions face each winter. Of course, it should be said that while outdoor conditions immediately come to mind when we think of working in cold environments, similar conditions can also exist indoors, such as freezer work.  Working in a cold environment such as refrigerators, walk in freezers or cold storage on a day-to-day basis can cause ill-health effects as well.

When our core body temperature drops just a few degrees below its normal temperature of 98.6°F, the blood vessels constrict, decreasing peripheral blood flow to reduce heat loss from the surface of the skin.  Excessive exposure to cold working conditions can lead to lower work efficiency, reduced mental awareness, and higher accident rates. 

So, whether the tasks vary from operating a fork truck in a freezer, tending a salmon pen on the open waters, or construction work in the elements, the results are potentially life threatening.  There are multiple engineering controls and safe work practices that can help protect our workers. Among them are: 

  • Personal Protective Equipment (layered clothing, gloves, insulated footwear).
  • On-site heat sources.
  • Shielding workers from wind.
  • A heated shelter.
  • Establishing rotations/frequent breaks away from the cold.
  • Establishing a buddy system in cold environments.
  • Educating workers about the cold-related symptoms.

Remember:  Cold-related ailments often go undetected until the worker’s health is endangered.  Let’s take steps to protect.

For more on cold work environment symptoms, treatment, and protection, you can visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety's website.