When it comes to worker safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the ultimate authority. While you’re busy working, we’re busy monitoring its regulations, so we can inform you of any relevant changes. Under OSHA, you have the right to the following (and more, which can be found here):
• training from your employer
• information from your employer about OSHA standards, worker injuries and illnesses, job hazards and workers’ rights
• action from your employer to correct hazards or violations
It’s important to stay up to date with OSHA regulations to ensure you have the necessary information, take correct precautions, and wear the right safety equipment on the job, including work boots and safety glasses. The more workers learn from advancing technology and research, the better prepared they will be for any situation. For example, in the last 15 years, training and equipment requirements have increased for various workers in different industries and fields. Below, we outline recent OSHA changes and what they mean for your safety at work.
In 2017, several major regulations went into effect that deal with workplace injuries. OSHA improved Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses to set a standard procedure for employees to report injuries on the job. This rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data. By focusing on large companies, and workers in high-risk industries, OSHA hopes to provide more incentive for safety in the workplace. This regulation impacts post-injury drug-testing procedures as well, and states an employer may test for drugs if it’s reasonable alcohol or drug use resulted in the injury; for example, a forklift crash after erratic behavior causes reasonable doubt about employee sobriety.
The tracking regulation also protects employees from retaliation when reporting injuries. In this instance, the employer cannot discipline an employee for waiting until pain increased before reporting it. Understandably, many companies pride themselves on having zero workplace injuries each year; they reward employees when they reach this goal. OSHA has eliminated that ability, to allow employees to report injuries without hesitation. Ideally, this will result in healthier employees and a more open – and less hazardous – work environment across the board.
Slips, trips and falls are leading causes of injuries on the job. Another OSHA regulation change in 2017 was to the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment Standard. From construction to wind energy and oil rigs, fall-protection equipment is a must for safety. This OSHA update regulates training, but offers more flexibility for employers to determine which fall-protection system to use. Now, every worker who performs high-hazard work must be trained in the dangers of falls and how to use personal fall-protection systems. OSHA outlines exact requirements an individual must have to be considered qualified enough to train others. If there are any changes in operations or equipment, employee re-training is required.
Previously, there was no safe distance stated for unprotected roof edges. Now, OSHA says if the distance is less than 6 feet from the roof edge, conventional fall-protection systems are required. If the distance is between 6 and 15 feet, workers need a designated temporary work area and a warning line. The new regulation for guardrails, ladders and stairways now aligns with the construction industry standard: Employers must provide ladder safety systems or personal fall-arrest systems for fixed ladders higher than 24 feet. The rest of the updated industry standards for this rule can be found here.
Overall, OSHA states employers must provide safe and healthy workplaces, and controlling hazards often is the best way to do so. Along with using engineering or work practice controls to manage hazards, personal protective equipment (PPE) plays an important role in ensuring worker safety. This includes simple items such as work boots and safety goggles, as well as equipment for more specific work situations. To stay OSHA-compliant for fall-protection equipment, workers need arc-flash-rated harnesses and lanyards. Other fall-protection gear include rope grabs and lifelines, SRLs, ladders, nets and guardrails.
In most work situations – whether you’re in the manufacturing, construction or utilities industry – you need safety clothing. This ranges from work boots and hard hats to safety goggles, gloves and vests. HazMats suits, rescue helmets, rainwear and respirators have their places as well. Check with your company and OSHA requirements for your industry to ensure you’re taking all necessary safety precautions in terms of attire and equipment on the job. Don’t forget to replace equipment when it is nearing the end of its life according to the manufacturer’s specification sheets.
Safety has improved over the last few decades due to increased awareness, resources and products. Expect more information from us as updates continue to roll out from OSHA. In 2018, we’ll get the final rules on several regulations, including Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Crane Operator Certification Extension.
Just as OSHA is dedicated to keeping workers safe, PK Safety strives to always provide you with the latest information and top-of-the-line resources and products to do your job safely. We are proud to be worker safety specialists. To learn more about PK Safety, visit our website or call 800-829-9580.