Ensuring OSHA compliance in manufacturing facilities

Ensuring OSHA compliance in manufacturing facilities

The standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were designed to ensure all U.S. workers had a safe occupational environment in which to work, but implementing programs to comply with these standards can also lead to dramatic productivity improvements.

Safety is, however, first and foremost.

According to the Safety Management Group, having safety programs in place and strategic manuals on hand is the best way to ensure compliance. With so many safety standards written for industrial workplaces, it is crucial to look closely at which standards apply to specific operations, and draft a set of personalized, in-house standards a management team can use in its safety and health program.

This program should be based on a detailed analysis of all operations, and how these mesh with OSHA's existing general industry standards. These programs can be further enhanced by signing workers up for training sessions that cover the developed safety plan, how to implement the new policies and how to audit all progress that is made.

Employing safety professionals to help facility management can also improve the OSHA inspection and citation process.

The high level of standards and paperwork that go along with OSHA inspections have also created a need for strong recordkeeping and documentation. Keeping up with all statutory record-keeping requirements identified by OSHA can be a tedious process. For example, when OSHA is assessing an incident, often the decision whether or not it should be logged can be confusing. But by understanding which information is needed for OSHA inspections, facilities can streamline the entire process.

Also, learning how to successfully complete OSHA's Log 300, which records incidents, classifications, days away from work and other requirements, can cut down on the time it takes to comply with OSHA standards and investigations.

According to FacilitiesNet, OSHA issues an average of about 40,000 citations every year, which mostly stem from the lack of a well-developed worker safety plan. The most common repeat offense is a lack of personal protective equipment, while exposure to electrical hazards and unguarded machinery also rank in the top three.

Most recently, OSHA cited a Tulsa, Oklahoma company with 23 serious and eight repeat safety violations, including exposure to unguarded saws and sanders at its manufacturing facility.
On August 29, 2012, Wenco Energy Corp. received the citations, following an OSHA inspection in February.

"By failing to provide required machine guarding and correct other deficiencies, Wenco Energy continues to risk serious injury to workers, including amputations," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "In this case, it is fortunate that no one else has been injured."

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