When there’s a safety problem or hazard in the workplace, people call the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more commonly known as OSHA. It’s the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation. And as it turns out, 2011 was a busy year for OSHA. More than 200,000 people sought assistance from OSHA in 2011, through either the toll-free 800 number or through email.
OSHA’s records show that nearly 43,000 of those who called the 800 number did so to file a complaint about workplace hazards. More than 32,000 people contacted OSHA through its email correspondence system. And more than 9,200 of those who called the 800 number selected the Spanish language option. All in all, OSHA conducted nearly 30,000 on-site visits to small business worksites in 2011, covering 1.3 million workers, approving 101 new Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) sites and re-approving 291 more.
Of course, there’s little for OSHA to do with all these inquiries and on all these visits unless there are regulations to enforce. And in order to prevent workplace hazards or OSHA penalties in your business, it’s important to keep up to date on the latest developments in workplace standards and regulations. Read about safety glasses standards, FR clothing standards, glove standards and regulations, high-visibility standards and much more safety information on WorkingPerson.me.
Here are some of the new (or revised) regulations this year:
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has revised one standard and given approval for two new ones. The revised one is ANSI/ASSE A10.33-2011 standard, Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects. It sets up the basic responsibilities of construction employers on a project where multiple employers are involved in the same construction project. It makes sure minimum safety and health guidelines are followed, to ensure a safe and cost-effective work environment.
The two new standards are ANSI/ASSE A10.1-2011 (Pre-Project and Pre-Task Safety and Health Planning for Construction and Demolition Operations) and ANSI/ASSE A10.26-2011 (Emergency Procedures for Construction and Demolition Sites). Both of these regulations are intended to prevent hazards before they happen, and to prepare workers to know what to do ahead of time if one does. The first assists owners in establishing an evaluation process that they can use to evaluate a project constructor candidate’s safety and health performance and planning practices. The second involves emergency procedures in the event of fires, collapses, hazardous spills, emergency rescue of ill or injured workers, first aid and emergenvy medical care, evacuation and transportation to medical facilities, and more. It also provides guidelines for developing emergency procedures on construction sites.
There is strong support for an OSHA proposal that has not yet adopted. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is backing OSHA’s proposal to include an “unclassified hazards” category in the UN’s Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is currently reviewing it. The reason? It has to do with what we covered in the beginning of this article: Safety, and OSHA’s response to complaints about workplace hazards.
CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said including an “unclassified hazards” category would substantially improve the ability of the GHS system to provide information about hazards to employees and workers, information which otherwise might not be included in safety data sheets, simply because they do not currently fit into GHS classification categories.
As evidence of this problem, Moure-Eraso cited five CSB investigations into fatal combustible dust and flash fires in recent years. In each case, the CSB found that a large proportion of safety data sheets for combustible dusts did not warn workers about their explosion hazards. Moure-Eraso says this is far too common in the industry and must be remedied by adding an “unclassified hazards” category so that this problem is no longer a source of injuries and fatalities. He urges OSHA and all those in the industry and labor fields to support this inclusion.