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Installing safety equipment is one of the most important things companies can do to prevent worker injury. Products from flame detector sensors to combustible gas leak detectors can help when warning employees that they may be facing a hazardous situation. Federal and state guidelines also exist to ensure the safety of workers at job sites.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets work safety laws that companies are required to follow. A recent OSHA report titled "OSHA: The Road Ahead," addresses the steps the federal agency has taken in the last 40 years to ensure worker safety and health.
"In our inspections, consultations and compliance assistance efforts, we should be encouraging every employer to adopt an injury and illness prevention program," said David Michaels, assistant secretary for OSHA. "We must also continue to address the problem of those systems that undermine a workplace culture of safety."
OSHA is evolving workplace culture by helping companies implement injury and illness prevention programs so employers can find and fix workplace hazards before workers are injured. Companies must educate and train employees to understand and recognize hazardous conditions in which they may be working. OSHA has helped reach more than 60,000 workers through their education and training efforts.
However, training employees on safety procedures may not be enough to keep all employees safe on the job. Company leaders must also have updated and reliable safety equipment in place to limit employee injury risk and ensure operations run smoothly.
OSHA issues citations
Consequence follows companies that neglect to follow the worker safety laws set by OSHA or install proper safety equipment. After a Highway Technologies worker died from being electrocuted while working on a guard rail project, OSHA issued 10 safety citations to the company. Some of the violations the company was cited for included failing to identify hazardous work zones. Six of the 10 violations were willful, or deliberate, OSHA said.
The six instance-by-instance willful citations were issued due to the company's failure to confirm that parts of the equipment being operated was not closer than 10 feet of the power line. The failures resulted in worker exposure to electrical shock and electrocution hazards, according to OSHA.
"Highway Technologies failed to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards," Michaels said in a February OSHA statement. "Multiple instances of the same violation over a period of time clearly demonstrate a willful failure to comply with basic safety and health standards. Employers must take steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment."
According to OSHA, the violations also landed Highway Technologies on the OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, a consequence of not adhering to the organization's worker safety laws.
OSHA said four serious violations were part of the total number of issued citations and included failure to identify electrical work zones, failure to determine a safe distance from the power line of 20 feet, failure to train workers on safe clearance and distances from power lines and failure to determine whether or not employees understand the training and risks of working near overhead power lines.
With proper safety equipment, the death of the Highway Technologies worker could have been prevented. A 4375 Hazardous Location Strobe from Safety Systems Technology can serve as an alert to workers. The strobe light can help workers determine if they are too close to a dangerous area.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.