Equipment maintenance isn’t just a matter of protecting your capital investment or preventing future costs; it’s about protecting your workers and customers from harm. That’s why OSHA regulations are so strict, because their enforcement has actually reduced the number of workplace injuries and fatalities. Not surprisingly, many of the same workplace dangers keep cropping up, so a lot of companies find themselves getting citations in the following areas.
Common OSHA Safety Violations
Just a note about the violations we’re talking about: You won’t read an exhaustive description of each of these OSHA workplace safety violations here. Any advice given in this blog post is informational only, and you should consult the full description of workplace safety regulations from the US Department of Labor to be sure that your maintenance and safety procedures are up to date and in compliance. That said, these individual violations are some of the most common, and you should check your own preventative maintenance schedules to make certain that your company is addressing these safety concerns on a regular basis through regular maintenance and safety inspections.
- Training Records: Failure to document training records can earn your company a citation even if you are conducting all the proper trainings. Part of what your maintenance program should include is regular, comprehensive safety trainings that relate to each employees responsibilities, and a paper-trail to document your compliance with training regulations.
- Scaffolding: If any walking surface fails to withstand the load it is supporting, you may be at risk of an OSHA scaffolding violation. Violations also occur when debris falls from scaffolding or plank surfaces. The regulations surrounding scaffold capacity, placement and construction are detailed and stringent. To remain in compliance, it helps to have facility maintenance software that automates the setup, takedown and regular inspection of any scaffolding that is in at your facilities or on any jobsite.
- HazCom: US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis called exposure to hazardous chemicals “one of the most serious threats facing American workers today.” Safety data sheets are required to comply with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which states that employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for workers who may be exposed to such chemicals. Workers must also be trained on how to handle hazardous substances.
- Ladders: Probably one of the most common tools in the American workplace, ladders and other climbing structures are commonly cited for OSHA violations due to misuse or faulty maintenance. Ladders are responsible for eight percent of all labor associated deaths. Often, violations occur because workers fail to use personal protective equipment like harnesses or because the ladders themselves are used improperly.
- Lockout/Tagout: The Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) standard was designed to prevent equipment from starting up while being serviced or maintained. Locks must be placed on the power source for a specific piece of equipment, visible to all employees so that the equipment cannot be turned on until maintenance on such equipment has been finished. When LOTO procedures are ignored, serious injury or death can occur.
- Machine Guarding: The machinery in use in your facilities must have safeguards in place to prevent human contact, interference from falling objects and contact with moving equipment parts. If safeguards are not in place around moving parts, around power transmission areas of the machinery or at the point of operation, you could receive a citation. The types of guards required and for what machinery they are considered necessary varies greatly.
As I mentioned, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and the actual regulations behind these common violations are very detailed. To be in compliance with established safety regulations, you’ll be certain to miss something if a comprehensive system of review and maintenance isn’t in place to ensure the rules are followed. Those rules will help you avoid costly citations and workplace shutdowns. Most importantly, they’ll help you improve the safety of your workplace for employees and customers.
Author bio: A dedicated marketing professional, Derek Smith writes on topics ranging from facilities maintenance and regulatory compliance to fleet management. When he isn’t hard at work, he’s headed to the mountains with either his skis or his snowshoes. If his boss asks, he’s out sick.