OSHA Top 10 Violations for 2017 Released

At last week’s National Safety Council Congress and Expo in Indianapolis, the NSC released the preliminary OSHA Top 10 Violations list for the 2017 fiscal year.  The data includes violations through Sept. 4.

Once again, general fall protection requirements topped the list with more than 6,000 citations, almost 2,000 more than second-place hazard communication. The top five remained unchanged from 2016, with ladders moving up to sixth and powered industrial trucks falling to one spot to seventh.

Fall protection training is a new entry in the 2017 list, taking 9th place with 1,523 citations. General electrical requirements fell out of the top 10.

The full list according to the NSC:

  • Fall Protection; General Requirements (1926.501) – 6,072
  • Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 4,176
  • Scaffolding (1926.451) – 3,288
  • Respiratory Protection (1910.134) –  3,097
  • Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) –  2,877
  • Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,241
  • Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,162
  • Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 1,933
  • Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) – 1,523
  • Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 1,405

“The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman in a news release. “When we all work together to address hazards, we can do the best job possible to ensure employees go home safely each day.”

The finalized data is set to be released in December 2017.

At SCT, we can help your company identify and eliminate all of these hazards. Whether it’s through on-site workplace audits, complete safety program development, or refresher training for employees and supervisors, our team of experts will help you reach your safety goals.

Contact us today online or call us at 1-800-204-1729.

While you’re here, check out our video below that covers OSHA’s Top 10 Citations from FY2016. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel or Like us on Facebook so you never miss a new video from us.

OSHA construction silica enforcement is SATURDAY!

Heads up construction companies, OSHA’s silica enforcement starts on Saturday, September 23, 2017!

SCT’s staff of occupational safety and health experts has the training and skills to help your company transition into this new standard.

During his time working for OSHA, Mr. Bielema helped develop the new silica standard. Mr. Bielema’s most recent position with OSHA was as Area Director for the Peoria, IL, office. The new rule went into effect in June 2016, but the enforcement date was delayed to allow for companies to align their programs and policies with the new standard and conduct necessary updated training.

Mr. Bielema has developed a brand new training course for SCT that will bring you and your employees up to speed on the new regulations. Watch our conversation with Mr. Bielema to find out more details about who is impacted by the new rule, what you need to do to become OSHA compliant, and how to best protect your employees.

Need to update your silica training? Call the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729, or contact us through our online contact page!

OSHA Looking to Postpone Crane Operator Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wants to extend the deadline for crane operator certification that is scheduled to go into effect in November of this year.

In Sept. 2014, OSHA issued a final rule that set the crane operator requirement deadline for November 2017. OSHA’s new proposed rule would push back the deadline to Nov. 10, 2018. According to OSHA’s press release, the additional time is to “address stakeholder concerns.”

OSHA’s Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard lays out four options for crane operators to become certified:

  • Certification by an independent testing organization accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization
  • Qualification by an employer’s independently audited program
  • Qualification by the U.S. military
  • Compliance with qualifying state or local licensing requirements

Those wanting to comment on the deadline delay can do so online at http://www.regulations.gov , by fax to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693–1648, or by mail to OSHA Docket Office, RIN No. 1218–AC86, Technical Data Center, Room N–3508, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20210.

Comments must be submitted by Sept. 29, 2017.

For all of your occupational safety and health needs, contact the experts at SCT by calling 1-800-204-1729.

Labor Department Releases Updated OSHA Agenda

The Department of Labor recently released its newly updated regulatory agenda. The agenda, which outlines and provides timelines for all government regulations, includes 14 OSHA items that are in the pre-rule, proposed rule, or final rule stage.

Typically, the agenda is published two times per year.

According to the new agenda’s introduction, this plan “represents the beginning of fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on the American people.”

The 14 OSHA items on the current agenda are:

Pre-Rule Stage

  • Communication Tower Safety
  • Mechanical Power Presses Update
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Lockout/Tagout Update
  • Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal

Proposed Stage

  • Occupational Exposure to Beryllium
  • Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection
  • Crane Operator Qualification in Construction
  • Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Exemption Expansions for Railroad Roadway Work
  • Technical Corrections to 16 OSHA Standards
  • Puerto Rico State Plan
  • Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
  • Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

Final Stage

  • Standards Improvement Project IV

To view the Fall 2016 Agenda to compare how things have changed, click here. 

Ask the Experts: Silica

We have another Ask the Experts segment, this time featuring SCT Regional Director Tom Bielema.

During his time working for OSHA, Mr. Bielema helped develop the new silica standard. The new rule went into effect in June 2016, but the enforcement date in construction of Sept. 23, 2017, is quickly approaching. Mr. Bielema’s most recent position with OSHA was as Area Director for the Peoria, IL, office.

Watch our conversation with Mr. Bielema to find out more details about who is impacted by the new rule, what you need to do to become OSHA compliant, and how to best protect your employees.

Did you catch our first Ask the Experts video featuring SCT Vice President of Engineering Services and former OSHA Regional Director Nick Walters? Click here to watch Mr. Walters detail the new Walking-Working Surfaces Standard.

If you want to talk to Mr. Walters, Mr. Bielema, or any of our other OSHA Experts, contact us today at 1-800-204-1729 or use our online contact page.

OSHA electronic reporting to be accepted starting August 1

Starting August 1, 2017, companies eager to get a jumpstart on OSHA’s electronic reporting requirements can submit their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A through the administration’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) webpage.

In June 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notified the business community that it was extending the deadline for submitting the electronic records to December 1, 2017, “to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.”

In 2016, OSHA–under the previous administration–implemented a new final rule requiring some employers to electronically send injury and illness data directly to the agency, which would be publicly posted on OSHA’s website.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a news release. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

According to OSHA’s press release announcing the August 1 online availability date, the data submission process involves four steps:

  1. Creating an establishment;
  2. adding 300A summary data;
  3. submitting data to OSHA; and
  4. reviewing the confirmation email.

The secure ITA webpage gives employers three options for data submission:

  1. Users will be able to manually enter data into a web form.
  2. Users will have the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time.
  3. Users with automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.

Visit the ITA webpage for information on reporting requirements, FAQs, and assistance with completing the form.

OSHA releases new Confined Space fact sheet

A confined space is defined in OSHA’s construction standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA as meeting the following criteria:

  • The space is large enough for a worker to enter it
  • The space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit
  • The space is not designed for continuous occupancy

Working with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), OSHA has released a new Confined Space FactSheet to answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and “clarify some of the standard’s provisions and their application to residential construction work,” according to the document.

One of the major distinctions explained in the new publication is the difference of a confined space and a permit-required confined space. Before beginning a residential homebuilding project, all involved employers “must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit-required confined space.”

Permit-required confined spaces are those that can be immediately dangerous to workers’ lives, and possess the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant
  • Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard

In the “Confined Spaces in Residential Construction” publication, OSHA and NAHB agree that the vast majority of the confined space standard’s requirements “only apply to permit-required confined spaces, and attics, basements, and crawl spaces in a residential home–three common spaces–will not typically trigger these requirements.”

But “vast majority” does not mean “all,” which is why it is important that employers working on residential homebuilding projects understand the standard’s definition, scope, and application so as best to comply with federal regulations and ensure worker safety.

The safety experts at SCT have decades of experience working for OSHA, national utility providers, glass manufacturers, and other industries that frequently encounter the potential for confined spaces. SCT Director of Construction Services Dennis Hobart has more than two decades of safety experience training thousands of employees on trenching and excavation and confined space hazards.

Mr. Hobart is also the principle trainer on SCT’s mobile fall protection and confined space training simulator, a 32-foot vehicle outfitted with all the necessary equipment and materials needed to conduct beneficial hands-on, practical training. Contact Mr. Hobart today by calling SCT at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss scheduling an updated training! Watch the video below for a look inside of our simulator.

Ask the Expert: Walking-Working Surfaces

Earlier this year, an update to the OSHA General Industry standard for Walking-Working Surfaces went into effect.

In short, the rule sought to align the General Industry standard with the Construction standards. OSHA estimates that these changes will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.

So what exactly does the new standard mean for you and your business? Watch SCT Vice President of Engineering Services Nick Walters discuss the biggest changes. As the former OSHA Regional Administrator of Region V, which oversees six states, Mr. Walters draws on his decades of OSHA experience to provide unrivaled insight into the administration’s updated regulations. There are only 10 Regional Administrators in the country.

Keep an eye out for more videos from our team of OSHA experts who boast decades of experience working for and alongside OSHA. We’ll be covering a number of other occupational safety and health topics including silica, lead, scaffolding, lockout/tagout, and machine guarding. To learn more about our team, click here.

If you or your company needs training on the new OSHA Walking-Working Surface standard or wants one of our experts to visit your worksite for a complete analysis to identify any potential safety hazards, call us today at 1-800-204-1729.

Firework safety on the Fourth of July!

While we want all Americans to have a fun and celebratory Independence Day, as a safety company we feel a sense of obligation to talk about firework safety.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks ignite an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16, 900 outside and other fires, according to its website. An estimated 11,900 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2015, of which 51% of those were injuries to extremities and 41% were to the head.

Many of the victims involved in firework accidents are often children and teens using consumer fireworks. The NFPA has created a safety video to raise awareness about the hazards associated with using consumer fireworks.

Check out more fire-related safety videos on NFPA’s YouTube channel.

For fireworks retailers and display operators, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has some recommendations for firework safety on its website:

OSHA Tips For Fireworks Retailers:

  • Keep exits clear and accessible
  • Know all exit routes
  • Maintain view of fireworks
  • Know alarm procedures
  • Know fire extinguisher location and operation
  • Remove and dispose of damaged fireworks
  • Remove loose pyrotechnic powder promptly
  • Use only non-sparking tools; do not use vacuum cleaners
  • Do not allow smoking within 50 feet of sales area
  • Keep facilities secure

OSHA Tips For Display Operators:

  • Make sure personnel are trained and competent
  • Obtain required licenses, permits and inspections
  • Maintain display site security and communications
  • Wear protective gear and proper clothing
  • Prohibit accidental ignition sources
  • Properly install mortar boxes, racks and drums
  • Keep fireworks cartons closed
  • Keep fireworks dry and in good condition
  • Always handle fireworks carefully
  • Stay away from loaded mortars

From the safety family at SCT, have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

OSHA requests comment on Voluntary Protection Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is calling for public input and suggestions in order to strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

An initiative designed to encourage private industry and federal agencies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, VPPs are a collaborative effort between management, labor and OSHA that commits to successful implementation of a comprehensive safety and health management system.

“As the Regional Administrator for OSHA’s Region V, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of folks from VPP sites, both management and workers,” said Nick Walters, SCT Vice President of Safety Engineering Services. “Every person that I spoke with commented about how VPP not only took their safety and health management systems to the next level, but they also emphasized the positive impact the process had on communication at their facilities which led to improved production, quality, and overall team morale.”

VPP sites have injury and illness rates that are, on average, significantly below their industry averages, Walters added.

Factors used to determine VPP qualification include:

  • management commitment and employee involvement
  • worksite analysis
  • hazard prevention and control
  • training

“These are all reasons that support the fact that implementing effective safety and health management systems and pursuing VPP makes good business sense,” Walters said. “In the 25 years that I worked for OSHA, by far, the best safety and health management systems that I saw being utilized were at VPP Star sites.”

SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock agreed with Walters’ assessment of VPPs adding, “VPPs are the pinnacle of voluntary compliance and have a positive impact on entire industries through mentorship and peer associations.”

Medlock, who served as the Area Director for the Cleveland Area OSHA Office for 20 years, offered one critique for OSHA’s VPPs.

“One area that OSHA needs to consider is the resource strain which VPP evaluations and monitoring place on the OSHA Area Offices conducting the VPP process,” he said. “VPP sites must be continually monitored and field assessments take a toll on the office resources.”

Given pending and potential budget cuts, Medlock said the agency should develop innovative ways to use competent outside consultants in a way that would ensure the integrity of the VPP system, and relieve stress on current staffing levels.

“While the SGE [special government employee] system is a needed supplement, there are never enough SGEs to fill the gaps and no incentive for SGEs to participate,” Medlock said. “A system where VPP sites can share in the costs of VPP certifications may be an option. OSHA could also consider privatizing, yet maintaining control over the VPP approval system such as they do in some states with the 7(c)(1) consultation service.”

The pilot VPP began as an experimental program in California, according to OSHA’s VPP webpage. The program was later rolled out nationally in 1982. Federal worksites gained VPP eligibility in 1998.

OSHA is hosting a stakeholder meeting on July 17, 2017, “to discuss the future direction of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The discussion will include comments and suggestions from the public on potential avenues for action,” according to an OSHA press release.

Questions being asked of stakeholders and the public include:

  • What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards through the VPP?
  • How can the agency support increased participation in VPP while operating with available resources and maintaining the integrity of the program?
  • How can the agency modify VPP to enhance the efforts and engagement of long-term VPP participants?
  • How might the agency modify Corporate VPP for greater leverage and effectiveness?
  • How can the agency further leverage participant resources such as Special Government Employees?

The public can provide input and read others’ comments by visiting Regulations.Gov VPP Sustainability comment board. The period for public comments closes on September 15, 2017.

Want to better understand how VPPs work? To create your company’s new safety culture today contact Rob Medlock via email, RMedlock@sct.us.com, and phone, 800-204-1729; or contact Nick Walters via email, NWalters@sct.us.com, and phone, 708-382-2900.

**This blog post was updated June 29, 2017, at 9:45 am to include comments from SCT Senior Vice President Rob Medlock.**