Most Common Workplace Violations
Every worker has a right to a safe and secure working environment. This safe working environment is to be provided by the employer in accordance to safety requirements stated in federal and state laws. As such, it is the employer’s responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure the life, health; welfare and safety of their workers are protected and safeguarded.
According to BLS’s (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 2017 data, over 5,000 people succumbed to work-related injuries. During the same time period, employers within the private sector reported close to 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. These statistics alone show just how important safety within the workplace is and how much safety violations within the workplace affect workers.
So, what are the most common workplace violations that lead to injury within the workplace? Below is a list of some of the violations identified by the NSC (National Safety Council).
Working from a high place
According to the BLS, the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from falls has been consistently increasing from 2011. Among the most cited violations when it comes to working at heights are the OSHA standards applying to ladders and scaffolding.
Usually height related hazards are as a result of employers not understanding that the responsibility of providing fall protection lies squarely on them. Some work places have even overlooked drafting fall protection procedures. It is the responsibility of employers to identify areas which have engineered anchor points as well as those necessitating fall protection. The employers are also required to train their employees on how to properly utilize the fall protection processes and carry out regular audits of the program.
Employers also have to consider that the protection gears are of the right size. They should consider the best protection process that not only works well but is the option for their employees.
Poor housekeeping may lead to blocking of the fire and emergency exits as well as the isles. Another hazard that is brought about by poor housekeeping is the stacking of loads too close to the head of the sprinklers. In the event of an emergency this would limit the efficiency of the sprinklers. Leaks or stagnant waters could also cause slips and falls leading to injury.
It is important to note that dealing with this issue could be more effective as a collective effort between employer and employee. Employees need to take the initiative to clean up after themselves instead of waiting for the sanitation crews to clean up. In the event that the clutter or spill requires specializes services, the employees could then escalate the matter to the supervisor who can then organize the appropriate staff to take over.
Employees should also make available proper storage facilities to reduce the issue of cluttering, around the work space.
Electrical – Extension cords
Most common workplace violations caused by the use of electrical and extension cords are usually due to the cords being utilized inappropriately. One such violation is the use of multiple cords for a device. This could lead to the cords overheating through overdrawing electricity which can be a fire hazard.
Another is the leaving of extension cords haphazardly on the ground over long periods of time. These create trip hazards and can also cause traffic abuse if stepped on or run over by mobile equipment.
Employers should make sure that extension cords being utilized temporarily are put away properly to mitigate these risks. Employees need to be trained on the importance of putting the right extension cord to use. If the cords will be used as a permanent solution, an electrician should come in and stall the appropriate facilities to maintain the line.
The main cause of forklift related injuries within the workplace is the employees need to get work done quickly. This undue pressure leads to them cutting corners such as overloading the forklifts, and being distracted in the process of operating the machine. Unsurprisingly, more often than not, this leads to some form of safety violation causing an injury.
The most common response from employers in these events is subjecting the forklift operator to some form of disciplinary procedure after blaming the whole incident on their recklessness. What many fail to see, however, is that the employee may be cutting corners in an effort to manage the workload with less staff or equipment. The lack of regular checks and maintenance on the forklifts only acts to compound this problem.
Following lockout procedures put in place could drastically prevent incidences of injury within the workplace. More often, workplaces have elegant procedures in place which are not adhered to.
Even in the event that the lockout/tagout steps are adhered to, using faulty or unfamiliar equipment could still lead to injury. Many a lockout/tagout procedures violations is usually as a result of complacency on the part of the employees, being in a hurry to get work done and using unfamiliar equipment.
Employers have to ensure that all their employees are trained on the appropriate lockout/tagout procedures and are qualified to strictly adhere to them.
When it comes to the purchase and use of chemicals, workers need to be extremely careful because chemical hazards are usually very serious in nature.
Employers are required to have appropriate control systems in place for the handling of chemicals. It is important to have a clear inventory of the chemicals within a workplace. The workers need to ensure that the chemicals are utilized before their expiry dates and they are also required to arrange for appropriate disposal of any expired chemical products. Having a large stockpile of expired chemicals can not only be extremely dangerous, it is also extremely illegal and expensive to dispose of.
Many violations involving confined spaces has taken place because of the use of out dated equipment and failure to conduct appropriate risk assessment. Among the safety risks involved includes drowning and suffocation due to exposure to toxic gases.
It is true that the burden of maintaining a safe workplace mainly lies with the employer. It is, however, critical that the employees also play their part in safeguarding the workplace too.