Thursday, August 16, 2012

Osha Safety Questions

Everybody wants to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policies, but they can often be difficult to interpret. There are several resources available to research questions regarding OSHA. Most questions, both employer and employee, are compliance issues. The challenge that OSHA faces is to regulate all industries, companies and trades. Often, regulations are written vaguely, so there is room for interpretation. Use these resources and this guide to further your understanding of OSHA's language and mandates, making your workplace safer.

How many work related illnesses, injuries and deaths occur every year?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of fatal work injuries in 2008 was 5,071. Injuries and illnesses requiring lost work time were 122 per 10,000 full-time employees in 2008. The number of fatalities has continued to decrease every year. Since OSHA's inception in 1970, work-related deaths have been reduced by 50 percent.

How much are the fines for violating an OSHA standard?

Penalties for violating an OSHA standard range from $0 to $70,000, depending on how likely the violation is to injure someone. Serious, first-time violations may have penalties up to $7,000. Blatant, uncorrected or willful violations can create fines up to $70,000. Additional information on OSHA penalties and fines can be found in Section 17 of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. A company can contest citations issued by OSHA by contacting the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent review board.

Does my company have to keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses?

If you have 10 or fewer employees and are in a low-risk industry, your company is not required to keep records of work related injuries or illnesses. Examples of industries that are exempt are retail stores, used car dealerships, and medical practitioner offices. A more complete list can be found in the OSHA 3169 Publication. Any company that has an accident that sends three or more employees to the hospital is required to report the incident to OSHA.

Can my company store Material Data Safety Sheets on a computer?

A company may store its Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) on a computer if the computer is in that employee's workspace. If the computer is not accessible by the employee, then the company is not in compliance. Under CFR 1910.1200(g)(8), "The employer must ensure that the MSDSs are readily accessible during each work shift to employees when they are in their work area(s)".

Do I need to post a OSHA Job Safety and Health poster in my workplace?

All companies are required to post the OSHA Job Safety and Health poster in their workplace that is easily found by employees, such as a break room or time-keeping office. These posters and many other publications are available for free to download on the OSHA website's publications page.

Do I have to have fire extinguishers in my workspaces?

Companies are typically required to maintain fire extinguishers within their work spaces in accordance with 29 CFR 1910. However, many employers do not want their employees to fight fires, they want them to immediately evacuate. Employers who want minimum or none of their employees fighting fires have two choices.

If the company has decided that all employees will evacuate, unless required by another standard, they are exempt from the standard 1910 that requires them to have a fire extinguisher.

If an employer only wants designated personnel (trained in firefighting/fire extinguishing usage) to use fire extinguishers, they are also exempt from the 1910 standard that requires extinguishers. However, they are required to distribute extinguishers to designated personnel in accordance with 1910.38(a).

If your company is required to maintain fire extinguishers for other purposes, such as an insurance company, they are required to meet all of the OSHA requirements regarding maintenance, inspection and testing in accordance with 20 1910.157 (e) and (f).

Tags: Safety Health, fire extinguishers, accordance with, accordance with 1910, Occupational Safety