The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is the branch of the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for ensuring that every American has safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA protects American workers by enforcing safety standards and providing safety training to employers and workers.
American employers are required to comply with OSHA safety standards and keep workplaces free of recognized health hazards. However, safety is expensive. Companies sometimes take shortcuts to save money. This can lead to the violation of important safety standards.
According to the Department of Labor, these are OSHA’s most common workplace safety violations:
- Fall protection standards: Falls are the leading cause of workplace injuries and deaths. OSHA regulations require employers to take precautions to prevent falls into holes in the floor and walls, from overhead platforms and elevated work spaces, and when working above dangerous equipment and machinery. Precautions may include guard rails, toe-boards, hole-covers, safety harnesses, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.
- Hazard communication: The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that all hazardous chemicals be labeled according to the standards of the Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This standard is intended to promote workplace safety by providing workers with easy to understand information about the safe handling and use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
- Scaffolding: Scaffolding is a temporary structure used at construction sites so workers can perform work on upper floors. There are a variety of types of scaffolding, but all scaffolding is regulated by strict OSHA standards. This is because almost three-quarters of scaffolding accidents occur when scaffolding collapses or gives way. OSHA standards address scaffolding accidents caused by structural instability, poor construction, falls, falling objects, electrocution, or overloading. OSHA also requires that any worker user scaffolding receive safety training.
- Respiratory protection: There are two types of respirators. If you work with harmful dust, smoke, volatile chemicals, gasses, vapors, sprays or fogs, you may be required to wear a respirator that removes harmful contaminants from the air. If you work in an environment where there is little breathable air, your respirator should supply clean air from an uncontaminated source. Both types of respirators protect workers from lung disease, respiratory illness, cancer and the effects of inadequate oxygen.
- Powered industrial trucks: Powered industrial trucks, forklifts, motorized hand trucks and lift trucks, are machines used to move large objects and heavy materials. These machines are either be ridden by the operator or controlled by a walking operator.
OSHA classifies powered industrial trucks into seven categories. Each type is associated with different types of accidents and operating hazards. There are also different risks in different workplace types and under different operating. Powered industrial truck hazards may include: pedestrian accidents, falling objects, falls off loading docks, falls between docks and an unsecured trailers, falls from elevated pallets and tines.
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout): Some energy sources can be hazardous to workers. Injury or death to workers can occur when machines using these types of energy are serviced or maintained. These types of injury can include burns, electrocution, crush injuries, cuts and lacerations, broken bones, and amputations.
OSHA requires proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures to safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. Workers must also be given training so they understand the risks associated with energy sources and can safely apply hazardous energy control procedures.
- Ladders: Falls are among the most common causes work related injuries and deaths. OSHA requires employers to use precautions to prevent from ladders, overhead platforms and elevated work surfaces.
- Electrical (wiring): Electricity is a serious workplace hazard. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect electricians and other professionals from electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. There are different standards for different occupation groups.
- Machine guarding: Machines with moving parts can cause severe workplace injuries, including burns, amputations and crush injuries. Machine guarding refers to the installation of safeguards to protect workers from these types of injuries.
- Electrical (systems design): OSHA’s electrical design standards are intended to protect workers from electrical hazards such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions.
Were you injured because your employer violated an OSHA safety standard or knowingly put your health at risk? Call Ostroff Law at (800) 818-8148. Our work site safety attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.