OSHA keeps records not only of the most frequently cited standards overall but also within particular industries. Understanding these standards and taking proactive steps to avoid violations can go a long way toward ensuring workplace safety. When it comes to the manufacturing industry, the following standards were the top 5 most cited in 2021:
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)—Year over year, poor lockout/tag-out practices regularly lead to violations for manufacturers. Per OSHA’s standards, any machine that has the potential to release energy must be set to a zero-energy state and locked to prevent the accidental start-up and release of that energy. To protect employees and avoid violations, businesses should create a written lockout/tag-out program that outlines machine-specific lockout/tag-out procedures, employee training practices and protocols for auditing the program annually.
- Machine guarding—Failing to follow machine-guarding practices is not only a common source of injury, but it’s also a frequently cited OSHA standard in manufacturing. In general, machine guards are used to protect employees against direct contact with moving parts of equipment, debris, kickbacks, and mechanical and electrical failures. In general, OSHA requires that all machines include the proper guards. It should be noted that there are specific guarding protocols for individual machines, and employers will need to train their employees regularly on the appropriate machine-guarding protocols.
- Powered industrial trucks (PITs)—PITs include fork trucks, motorized hand trucks and other vehicles used for moving materials. In terms of safety concerns, PITs often require more stopping distance, have limited visibility and are top-heavy. Complicating matters, PITs are also commonly used in close proximity to other workers, making it even more important to follow safety protocols. Specifically, operators must be properly trained and certified on PIT use. Equipment should also be inspected before use to ensure it is in a safe condition.
- Respiratory protection—This standard is in place to ensure employees are protected against airborne contaminates. In manufacturing settings, hazards can include gases, vapors, dust, mists, fumes, smoke, sprays and fog—all of which can negatively affect employee health and safety. To safeguard workers, employers must have a written respiratory protection program in place. Additionally, they must select respirators appropriate for the hazard and ensure employees are medically fit to wear a respirator. Employees should be trained on how to wear respirators properly and fit-tested to ensure the respirator can protect the employee from the hazard.
- Hazard communication—Employees have the right to know about the hazards of chemicals they work with every day and what precautions they must take to remain safe on the job. That’s where hazard communication comes into play. Hazard communication programs typically include a written program, safety data sheets for all hazardous chemicals, an up-to-date list of chemicals, chemical labeling practices and employee training.
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