Here are a few more things that I like to call ‘low-hanging fruit’ for OSHA inspectors—circumstances that are common, obvious, and simple for employers to correct.
I witnessed each of these circumstances firsthand in my role as an OSHA investigator, resulting in frequent ‘write-ups’. It’s safe to say that at least one of these standards violations was present in nearly all work environments I traveled to; over time, they became easier and easier to spot.
So this is to help you understand basic compliance/enforcement activity, make your environments a little safer, and avoid easy mistakes leading to citations. Do me a favor after reading this: identify and correct these hazards in your workplace, if they exist.
Did you know you would likely receive an administrative fine for not displaying the OSHA poster? That’s the poster explaining worker safety, and rights under federal law. In fact, there is an entire series of employment posters employers are required to display: fair wage & hour, workers compensation, etc. Not all of those relate to safety.
Pro Tip: You can purchase fancy, laminated posters, but you can find them for free and free in multiple languages (remember that you must display native language posters for alllanguages spoken in your workplace). Find the free poster here on the federal OSHA web page. If your state has its own OSHA program, go to your state’s OSHA or Department of Labor web page, and find free posters and other resources there. What about those other employment posters? Find them on your state’s labor department web page.
Pro Tip: Do the posters get updated annually? Not necessarily. If you are pressured by a vendor to buy them annually, check the OSHA & Department of Labor pages, where each poster will have the current publish date specified.
Here’s one...are you protecting employees from welding rays? You know, other welders in the near vicinity and people walking past or with work stations adjacent to welding activity—are you protecting their eyes? Here is the regulation I used to cite this hazard: 1910.252(b)(2)(iii) Protection from arc welding rays.
Pro Tip: Don’t hang a plastic tarp on a frame between welders and in walkways and call it protection. The duct tape covering the melted holes will be the first clue that the tarp isn’t noncombustible.
Power Cords & Strain Relief
“Flexible cords & cables shall be connected to devices & fittings so that strain relief is provided that will prevent pull from being directly transmitted to joints or terminal screws.” -1910.305(g)(2)(iii)
Huh? On your next audit, look at all power cords, hardwired or otherwise; check both ends—you are looking for insulation/conduit that has pulled away to expose wiring beneath, and putting all pressure on the wiring rather than it’s intended housing (the insulated cord covering or conduit).