New Study: OSHA Inspections Lower Workers Compensation Costs

A new study says it confirms that OSHA’s inspections not only prevent workers from getting hurt on the job, they also save billions of dollars for employers through reduced workers’ compensation costs. The study by business school economists at the University of California and Harvard University, analyzed how workplace safety inspections affected injury rates and other outcomes. In a comparison of 409 randomly inspected establishments in California with 409 matched-control establishments that were eligible, but not chosen, for inspection the study found no evidence that the inspection process and subsequent corrective actions came at the expense of employment, sales, credit ratings, or the firm’s survival.

Key Findings from the Study

  • 9.4% drop in injury claims at workplaces in the four years following an inspection
  • 26% average savings on workers’ compensation costs compared to similar, non-inspected companies
  • $355,000 average savings for an employer (small or large) as a result of an OSHA inspection
  • $6 billion estimated savings to employers nationwide

As researchers David Levine, Michael Toffel, and Matthew Johnson explain, “The benefits of a randomized safety inspection appear to be substantial.  These results do not support the hypothesis that OSHA regulations and inspections on average have little value in improving health and safety.” Furthermore, the researchers found “no evidence that these improvements came at the expense of employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival.”

Dr. David Michaels responded strongly to the study,  ”I have been promoting that message since I became head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration almost three years ago. It is supported by empirical evidence—and now—it’s been confirmed by a peer-reviewed study published in Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals. Not only that, the new study, conducted by professors at the University of California and Harvard Business School, shows that OSHA inspections save billions of dollars for employers through reduced workers compensation costs.”  OSHA’s full response to the study.

Read the entire study here.  “Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss,”

OSHA Has Specific Training Requirements For Workers

Working with many different types of clients is a lot of fun, but it also keeps you on your toes.  Especially regarding training requirements. One of the most frequently asked questions I get involves OSHA regulations on how often you must have safety meetings.

Currently OSHA has no regulation on how often you must have safety meetings. However, there are regulations that require training on a scheduled basis such as Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030) training, which is required annually.

Other general industry standards that require annual training include:

  • Asbestos—29 CFR 1910.1001
  • Exposure and Medical Records—29 CFR 1910.1020
  • Fire Brigades—29 CFR 1910.156 (quarterly training required for interior structural firefighters
  • Fire Extinguishers—29 CFR 1910.157
  • Fixed Fire Extinguisher Systems—29 CFR 1910.160
  • Grain Handling—29 CFR 1910.272
  • HAZWOPER—29 CFR 1910.120
  • Machine Guarding—29 CFR 1910.217 and 218
  • Noise—29 CFR 1910.95
  • Respiratory Protection—29 CFR 1910.134
  • Toxic Substances—29 CFR 1910.1003, 1017,1018, 1025-1029, 1043, 1045-1048, 1050

Then there are two standards that require training every 3 years: Process Safety Management (29 CFR 1910.119) and Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178).  For more information on OSHA required training visit the OSHA website, or contact me directly at learningsolutions@occutec.com.

GHS is finally here…almost!

OSHA’s recently published the final rule to adopt the Global Harmonization System (GHS), which according to them will not change the framework and scope of the current Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) but will help ensure improved consistency in the classification and labeling of all workplace chemicals. GHS provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets. Under GHS, labels would include signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements and safety data sheets would have standardized format. This system was agreed on at an international level by governments, industry, and labor, and adopted by the UN in 2002 with a goal of 2008 for implementation.

According to OSHA this change will affect over 40 million workers in about 5 million workplaces. The change to GHS was a long time in coming and necessary as the global chemical business is more than a $1.7 trillion per year enterprise. In the U.S., chemicals are more than a $450 billion business and exports are greater than $80 billion per year. Existing laws and regulations are currently different enough to require multiple labels for the same product both within the U.S. and in international trade and requiring multiple safety data sheets for the same product in international trade. Several U.S. regulatory agencies and various countries also have different requirements for hazard definitions as well as for information to be included on labels or material safety data sheets. GHS effectively establishes agreed hazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply the system worldwide.

It is important to remember that GHS itself is not a regulation or a standard. The GHS Document (referred to as “The Purple Book”) is simply a mechanism to meet the basic requirements of any hazard communication system, which is to decide if the chemical product produced and/or supplied is hazardous and to prepare a label and/or Safety Data Sheet as appropriate. OSHA’s HCS will incorporate the needed elements of GHS to make international trade and commerce easier.

Of course with change comes the need for training. Employers will need to have trained their employees regarding the new label elements and safety data sheets format by December 1, 2013 with full implementation of GHS taking place December 1, 2015.

OSHA has published a side-by-side comparison of the current HCS with the new GHS elements incorporated which can be found here.  If you need more information or training contact me,  I’d be happy to help you find the needed resources.

4-Year GHS Compliance Transition Period

May 25, 2012 to November 30, 2013
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Train employees how to read and interpret chemical labels and (material) safety data sheets in compliance with either:

  • The pre-GHS HazCom standard for labels and MSDSs; or
  • The revised HazCom standard with GHS for new-style labels and SDSs; or
  • Both old and new requirements at the same time
December 1, 2013
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Train employees about the new GHS-compliant chemical labels and SDSs.
June 1, 2015
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors
Comply with all the requirements of the GHS rule, including classify chemical hazards and prepare new labels and SDSs. Distributors have until December 1, 2015 to comply with the shipping requirements for GHS-compliant labels.
December 1, 2015
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors
All shipments of chemical containers must include the new GHS-compliant label (signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement).
June 1, 2016
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

Get By With A Little Help From A Friend: Safety Professionals & Trainers

Recently I had the great pleaure of getting to know more and more experienced safety professionals and trainers using LinkedIn Groups.    Some of the more interesting subjects within our industry are being discussed right now by a wide range of professionals whose insight and knowledge has helped me immensely in my career.   I have listed below a couple of the more interesting blog posts that I have discovered using LinkedIn.   

The Most Overlooked Paragraph in the OSHA Standards

Several months ago I was reading posts made by members in one of the many social networking groups I belong to that are dedicated to occupational health and safety matters. The original discussion question inquired about the regulations that should be applied to workers who were not wearing fall protection harnesses while spreading metal decking…(read more).

Don’t Overlook OSHA’s “Unscheduled” Refresher Training Requirements

When I conduct mock-OSHA inspections for companies, we spend a lot of time focusing on their employee safety training efforts. What we typically find is that most employers provide a new employee safety orientation to get the newbies up to speed on the mandatory OSHA topics…(read more).

Beware – Where Behavior Based Safety Programs and OSHA Standards Collide

Occasionally a company that has implemented an OSHA compliance program asks me for recommendations to help them “go to the next level” and “exceed OSHA compliance”. Often times I recommend they look into implementing a behavior based safety (BBS) program to compliment what they have in place. Many of you in the safety profession already know what a behavior based safety program is…(read more)

OSHA Changes Hazard Communication Standard to Match GHS

(from OSHA website)

New changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard are bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard:

  • Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.
  • Safety Data Sheets: The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.
  • Information and training: To facilitate understanding of the new system, the new standard requires that workers be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements.

Changes from the Proposed to the Final Rule: OSHA reviewed the record and revised the Final Rule in response to the comments submitted. Major changes include:

  • Maintaining the disclosure of exposure limits (Threshold Limit Values [TLVs]) established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial
  • Hygienists (ACGIH) and carcinogen status from nationally and internationally recognized lists of carcinogens on the safety data sheets;
  • Clarification that the borders of pictograms must be red on the label;
  • Flexibility regarding the required precautionary and hazard statements to allow label preparers to consolidate and/or eliminate inappropriate or redundant statements; and
  • Longer deadlines for full implementation of the standard (see the chart below):

What you need to do and when:

  • Chemical users: Continue to update safety data sheets when new ones become available, provide training on the new label elements and update hazard communication programs if new hazards are identified.
  • Chemical Producers: Review hazard information for all chemicals produced or imported, classify chemicals according to the new classification criteria, and update labels and safety data sheets.
Effective Completion Date Requirement(s) Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format. Employers
June 1, 2015*December 1, 2015 Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers
Transition Period Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both. All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

* This date coincides with the European Union implementation date for classification of mixtures.

During the transition period to the effective completion dates noted in the standard, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers may comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final standard), the current standard or both.

The final rule revising the standard is available at http://s.dol.gov/P1*.

Updated OSHA Videos Intended To Provide Respirator Training Resources

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently posted a series of 17 videos to help workers learn about the proper use of respirators on the job.

These short videos are intended to provide information to workers in general industry and construction.  Topics include OSHA’s Respiratory Standard, respirator use, training, fit-testing and detecting counterfeit respirators. The videos are available with closed captioning for streaming or download from OSHA’s Web site.

OSHA’s Safety and Health topics page on Respiratory Protection also includes additional training materials, information about occupational respiratory hazards in different industries, and details of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134 and 29 CFR 1926.103).

OSHA 2013 Budget Request Unchanged From 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor today outlined its part of the president’s fiscal year 2013 budget request to Congress, which according to DOL focuses on efficiently achieving the department’s goals while exercising fiscal restraint.    See Summary below:

For information on the president’s FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Labor, visit http://www.dol.gov/budget.

 

OSHA Logs Must Be Certified By An “Executive of the Company” Is that You?

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the Lowe’s Home Centers Inc. regional distribution center in Rockford, Illinois with $182,000 in penalties for failure to document and report employee injuries and illnesses, as required by OSHA safety and health regulations.”

That got your attention didn’t it?

 

There should be no doubt about it, OSHA takes record keeping very seriously.   Remember, it’s not about the paperwork itself, its about the information on the paperwork.   OSHA doesn’t have an army of compliance officers to constantly check in on every employer so they must rely on the employers themselves to self-report on injuries and illnesses.

To OSHA the lack of proper paperwork demonstrates a lack of respect for safety and raises reasonable doubts as to the employers commitment to safety.   So do yourself and your employees a favor and keep up on your record keeping requirements.

According to OSHA 1904.32(b)(5) You must post a copy of the annual summary (OSHA 300-A Log) in each establishment in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted.   You must ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or covered by other material.   Everyone knows that…right?

Did you also know that the OSHA 300 Log must be certified as accurate by a company executive?   Did you know that most safety managers, supervisors, directors, and/or coordinators do NOT qualify as an executive?

According to the OSHA, The company executive who certifies the log must be one of the following persons:

  • An owner of the company (only if the company is a sole proprietorship or partnership);
  • An officer of the corporation;
  • The highest ranking company official working at the establishment; or
  • The immediate supervisor of the highest ranking company official working at the establishment.

If as a safety manager, director, or supervisor you meet one or more of these definitions, then I congratulate you on a career well done!   But for the rest of us, we need to make sure that a company executive certifies the OSHA 300 log.   The company executive must certify that they have examined the OSHA 300 Log and that they reasonably believe that the annual summary is correct and complete.
Employers must post the summary no later than February 1 of the year following the year covered by the records and keep the posting in place until April 30.When do I have to post the annual summary?

Who Must Maintain the OSHA 300 Log?

All employers with 11 or more employees in the selected industries, as determined by their SIC and/or NAICS classification (e.g., Agriculture, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Construction, Transportation, General Merchandise Stores, Hospitality, and Health Services), must keep injury and illness records.

Some employers are normally exempt for these recordkeeping requirements, such as Retail trade, Financial, Banking, Insurance and Real Estate sectors.

Employers who operate establishments that are required by the rule to keep injury and illness records are required to complete three forms: the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, the annual OSHA 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and the OSHA 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report.

Employers are required to keep separate 300 Logs for each establishment that they operate that is expected to be in operation for one year or longer. The Log must include injuries and illnesses to employees on the employer’s payroll as well as injuries and illnesses of other employees the employer supervises on a day-to-day basis, such as temporary workers or contractor employees who are subject to daily supervision by the employer.

OSHA Slashes Number of Online Trainers and Encourages Enrollment at OTI Ed. Centers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced earlier this month, its selection of only 10 OSHA authorized training providers out of the hundreds of applicants to deliver online courses as part of its Outreach Training Program.  Although more than 135,000 workers were trained online in 2011, which represents a five-fold increase from the number of online students trained in 2007, OSHA dramatically curtailed the overall number of online training providers available for prospective students to chose from.

Of the newly anointed 10 authorized providers, only two are non-profits or Universities, with the bulk of the providers being private for-profit companies.   Several high profile online providers who previously offered OSHA online Outreach courses were not selected by OSHA including, The University of South Florida, 360Training.com, Coastal Training Technologies, Summit Training Source, and Redvector.

Not all of the new providers that OSHA authorized even have currently available programs, according to OSHA.  Those organizations must still work on building an acceptable program in order to receive a full blessing from OSHA. So the overall number of online course providers may get smaller in the coming months.  In an email received from Mr. Don Guerra, OSHA Program Manager, OSHA continued to recommend that prospective students “compare program offerings and pricing from multiple providers” in order to determine which one best meets their training needs.  However given this latest round of cuts to available online providers, it is highly probable the cost for this online training will rise dramatically for prospective students and employers given the lack of competition in the marketplace.

OSHA also continues to encourage  students to consider taking classroom training instead of online courses.   Which of course, are being offered  and marketed by the OSHA Education Centers around the country in direct competition to private and public classroom training providers.   Although no direct link has been suggested between the slashing of online providers and the encouragement to go to the OSHA Ed. Centers; a clearer message could not have been received!

See the January 12, 2012 news release on new online Outreach Training Program selections.

New and Currently available programs 

Programs that will no longer be available after March 31, 2012 

 

Is Your Facility Ready for a Compliance Inspection in 2012?

It’s already 2012 and now is a great time to review your facility’s environmental, health & safety compliance standing.   You should be aware of your ability to withstand an inspection from OSHA or EPA this year.   Typically, an inspector will assess the effectiveness of your facility’s environmental and safety programs by asking EHS, operations, and maintenance staff to answer a series of general questions.   Once they start getting inconsistent, or a lot of  ”I don’t know”  answers they know they have a ‘live on on the hook’!   It’s only a matter of time before they reel you in.   You need to stay ahead of the game.

Here’s how you can make the inspection of your facility go as smoothly as possible:

Tips for a Smooth Inspection

  • Cooperate - The most important advice to follow during an inspection is to cooperate with the inspector.   The inspector may equate noncooperation with regulatory noncompliance.

  • Accompany the inspector - The facility owner, operator, or workplace supervisor should accompany the inspector during the inspection to take notes on the inspector’s comments. When accompanying the inspector, pay particular attention to questions that the inspector asks you or employees about workplace health and safety or waste management practices.
  • Correct errors - It is also important, if possible or if requested by the inspector, to correct regulatory problems, such as a malfunctioning chemical-treatment-process machine or a minor spill, during the inspection.
  • Duplicate samples and records - Should the inspector take samples; you should take a samples the same time so that you have nearly identical samples.  Ask the inspector what test or analysis the sample will undergo and have the same test or analysis conducted independently on your sample for your own records.

Should the inspector request copies of corporate records, either make the copies then, or if the request requires a substantial amount of copying, agree to a schedule to provide them to the inspector.   Keep a copy of everything you provide to the inspector.   The inspector may also take pictures of relevant plant equipment or processes.   You should take the same pictures from the same angle.

Are you ready to answer these questions?

  • How are EHS regulatory requirements determined and communicated?
  • How is compliance monitored?
  • What is the effectiveness of the internal communication systems, particularly under spill or release scenarios? Accidents and Injuries?
  • What is the existence and completeness of detailed process flow charts and mass balances?
  • How is noncompliance communicated to management?  What is the follow up?
  • Is environmental and safety compliance a factor in job performance evaluations for front line Supervisors?  Employees?  How about Management?
  • What is the existence and scope of an environmental and safety training programs?
  • What are the existence, scope, and maturity of the facility’s EHS management systems?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You don’t have to go through this alone!  There are a lot of valuable resources available to you on the web.   OSHA and EPA both have good resources on their websites; contact other professionals through social media such as LinkedIn Groups.  You can also contract with a professional consultant, or contact your state’s Department of Labor; many have assistance programs that can get you on the right track.   Most important though, talk to your senior management and get them to understand the importance of EHS, both from a regulatory compliance standpoint and more importantly from a good business perspective.  Be prepared to make 2012 a great year!

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