A visit to your plant by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known by its acronym OSHA, can be the best of times – or the worst of times. Often, when OSHA arrives at your worksite, there has been an accident or injury that requires federal investigation. OSHA is the arm of the U.S. Department of Labor that establishes, issues and enforces national workplace safety regulations.

OSHA provides a set of guidelines to help you avoid “the worst of times” and maintain your company’s solid safety record. Here’s an overview of a few key areas:

Lockout/tagout incidents are one of the most common sources of OSHA violations in the nation. They occur as the result of workers failing to properly shut off and lock out machinery, and then tag this action, before maintenance or service work is done.

Machine Guarding
OSHA mandates that one or more methods of machine guarding be provided to protect workers from hazards such as nip points, rotating parts, and flying chips or sparks. These barrier guards, tripping devices or other protective measures must be designed so that a person cannot reach over, under, around or through a guard into a hazard.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Approved clothing, hard hats, safety shoes, eye and ear protection and other gear to keep the body safe are required under OSHA standards, though the specifics regarding PPE requirements vary for each factory. In recent years, OSHA has placed a high emphasis on PPE compliance.

When it comes to PPE, as well as numerous other aspects of safety compliance, OSHA has partnered with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to specify minimum requirements. For instance, eyewear must protect the wearer from all manner of large and small flying objects and those working with torches or on welding jobs must use a darkening shade.

Gloves must be tailored to the specific job, based on their performance traits in relation to the task. For instance, some gloves are better engineered to prevent cuts and abrasions, while others are designed to protect the hands from burns. And machine operators need gloves that will not catch on moving parts, resulting in potentially serious or even fatal injury.

Warning Signs and Labels
OSHA requires that clear, prominent safety labels and signage be located in close proximity to potential hazards.

Danger signs are mandated in areas where work is under way or immediate hazards exist. They feature red as their predominant color.

Caution signs warn against potential hazards. For example, you would likely come across a caution sign – featuring yellow as its identifying color – in an area where water or oil have been spilled and are awaiting cleanup.

In addition to the areas outlined above, there are myriad topics covered by OSHA, as it seeks to ensure that employees arrive home at the end of their shift the same way they came into work: safe and injury free. It’s apparent that OSHA’s work has been successful; since the agency was established in 1970, occupational deaths have decreased by 62 percent, and the number of workplace injuries has declined by 42 percent.

To learn more, visit www.osha.gov. Or, call your manufacturing employment expert at Premium Staffing. Our team members have an extensive history and knowledge of safety management and related HR, training and development issues.

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