OSHA has initiated an unusually high number of inspections in the country’s midsection over the past several months. What are inspectors looking for, and what are they finding?
The agency has launched 12 fatality inspections in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska since October 1, 2016—up from seven for the same period in the previous year. Compliance personnel have found a significant increase in fatalities associated with confined space entry and trenching and excavation. The agency reports that fatalities involving workers being struck by motor vehicles also doubled from two to four for the same period.
Said OSHA Kansas City regional administrator Kim Stile, “Working together with businesses, unions, and employees, we can reduce these sobering statistics and implement and sustain workplace safety and health programs that can help employees avoid preventable injuries and deaths. With just a phone call, companies can contact OSHA for assistance in achieving safety compliance.”
The Midwest push is part of OSHA’s new Safe and Sound Campaign. It calls on employers to review their safety and health programs to protect workers and reduce workplace injuries and deaths. The idea is that by identifying and controlling job-related hazards that can lead to injuries and illnesses, businesses can improve their safety and health programs, save money, and stay competitive.
The campaign emphasizes the three core elements of an effective safety and health initiative—management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic find-and-fix approach in which employers and workers jointly examine the work environment to identify and address hazards before they can cause harm.
OSHA reminds employers, especially in smaller companies, that a modest safety and health budget doesn’t have to stand in the way of worker protection. The agency funds a state-run onsite consultation program that provides free, confidential consultation. Employers can find out about potential hazards, improve programs already in place, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Learn more about the program at http://www.osha.gov/consultation.