Archive for October, 2013

Online Exclusive: 5 Issues OSHA Will Target over the Remainder of 2013

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Eric J. Conn

Fri, 2013-10-04 14:35

A Washington, D.C.-based attorney who represents clients in inspections, investigations and enforcement actions involving OSHA, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and EPA reveals where he thinks OSHA will target its inspection efforts.


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An industry contact recently asked me what five issues I expected OSHA would be focusing its general industry enforcement efforts on for the balance of this year. Here was my response:

1. Emergency Exits & Exit Routes – A couple of months ago, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum directing inspectors to scrutinize whether employers were providing and maintaining adequate means of emergency exit; i.e., unlocked, unobstructed, and clearly marked exit doors and exit routes in compliance with 29 C.F.R. 1910.36. We just wrote a blog post about this Exit initiative on the OSHA Law Update blog.

The directive applies to all industries and all workplaces, so I expect that will be one item OSHA looks at carefully in all inspections for at least the rest of the calendar year.

2. Hazard Communication – Employers will be hearing a lot about OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard over the next few months. OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), and published the new final rule last year. Two significant changes contained in the revised standard require chemical manufacturers and users to implement new labeling elements and create and maintain safety data sheets (SDS) that follow a new standardized format.

A portion of the new requirements kicks in this winter. Specifically, by Dec. 1, employers must have completed training on the new label elements and the new SDS format. Accordingly, I expect OSHA to spend some time addressing these issues in enforcement inspections to help spread the word that the new requirements have arrived.

3. Lockout/Tagout and Machine Guarding – Just like with fall hazards, OSHA’s regulations addressing amputation hazards – i.e., lockout/tagout and machine guarding –both rank high on the list of most-frequently cited standards every year. Also, like fall hazards, OSHA currently has a special emphasis program focused on these hazards. Specifically, OSHA is in the midst of an Amputations National Emphasis Program, which targets compliance with the lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards. That NEP has led to some significant enforcement actions, and I anticipate seeing OSHA continue to look out for those types of issues during inspections the balance of the year.

4. Fall Protection – Fall hazards continue to rank among the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities in both general industry and construction, and OSHA’s fall protection standards continue to rank among the most-frequently cited standards year after year. Accordingly, OSHA almost always maintains special emphasis programs targeting fall hazards. Nine of OSHA’s 10 regions have active local or regional emphasis programs focusing inspection resources on fall hazards in either or both general industry and construction.

5. Compliance with the Grain Standard – For the past few years, OSHA has been actively inspecting grain handling facilities in all major U.S. grain states under local emphasis programs. While the LEPs continue to set a pretty high target for the number of grain elevator inspections annually, many regions have held back on inspections during the spring and summer, and plan to catch up on the annual target during the fall and winter (i.e., harvest season). The reason is that there generally is not much activity at most grain elevators during the spring and summer months.

Since employees are more often engaged in those work activities covered by the Grain LEPs during harvest season, such as entering bins, performing preventive maintenance, loading railcars, etc., the frequency of inspections at grain handling facilities will be particularly high for the rest of this year.

About the author: Eric J. Conn is head of the OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker Green in the Labor and Employment practice based out of the firm’s Washington, DC, office. Conn leads the firm’s efforts to provide occupational safety and health law services to its clients. He focuses his practice on all aspects of occupational safety and health law.

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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations For 2013

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Wed, 10/02/2013 – 10:32am

National Safety Council

FEATURED IN Industrial Distribution

Chicago, IL – Once again, Fall Protection tops the list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s most-cited workplace safety violations. The presentation of the Top 10 was given before a crowded group of spectators on the Expo floor at the 2013 National Safety Council Congress & Expo.

“We appreciate our colleagues at OSHA sharing their most recent data as we look toward Leading Safety into the Future,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Janet Froetscher. “Today’s presentation reminds us that it’s very important to learn from the past and address these top violations to help make our workplaces safer.”

The preliminary figures for the FY 2013 Top 10 are:

Standard                                                            Total Violations

1.  1926.501 – Fall Protection                                         8,241

2.  1910.1200 – Hazard Communication                          6,156

3.  1926.451 – Scaffolding                                             5,423

4.  1910.134 – Respiratory Protection                             3,879

5.  1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods                        3,452

6.  1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks                        3,340

7.  1926.1053 – Ladders                                                 3,311

8.  1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout                                       3,254

9.  1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements              2,745

10. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding                                   2,701

(Data Source: OIS Standards Cited Report Dated 9/13/13)

Creating Desire for Change

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Thu, 2013-09-26 10:07


Modern change agents have all kinds of proven tools and resources for creating awareness and encouraging desire.

It’s been said that people don’t mind change, but they mind being changed.   This idea is worth thinking about in the context of organizational and personal change.

It reminds me of the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof.  Remember when Tevye promises his eldest daughter in marriage to man she doesn’t love?  She’s miserable, and so is everyone else.  Clearly, something has to change.

In this story, Tevye’s wife emerges as the change agent.  By concocting a dramatic dream involving a dead relative’s warning, Golde plays on Tevye’s emotions and creates a “pain point” around the situation.

It works.  Tevye believes the dream and its prediction about what might happen if he doesn’t act.  He’s now sufficiently motivated to change.  He takes the needed action, and his daughter gets to marry the man she loves.

Let’s be clear here.  I’m not advocating making up stories to get your employees on board with a change.  Manipulation never works.  Transparency and truthfulness are key to any successful project.  But we can take a lesson from Golde’s playbook all the same.

The key takeaway is that Golde doesn’t try to make Tevye change.  Instead, she lays the groundwork for him to want to—and she does it in a way that makes sense to him.  As a devout and rather simple man, he responds well to the superstitious dream story.

Jeffrey Hiatt, author of the popular ADKAR model of individual change, says people have to become aware of the benefits of change (or the consequences of not doing so), for change to be sustainable.  After that they have to grow into wanting, or desiring, the change.  Awareness and desire are the first two steps in Hiatt’s model:  Awareness/Desire/Knowledge/Ability/Reinforcement.  Golde’s made-up dream plants the awareness in Tevye’s mind, and helps him want to change.

According to Hiatt, the desire stage in this process is easy to miss.  Managers are often so sure that the proposed change is a good idea that they expect employees to move immediately from awareness to desire.  But this doesn’t always happen.  Appealing to employees in ways that address their personal concerns goes a long way toward building desire for change.

The good news is that modern change agents have all kinds of proven tools and resources for creating awareness and encouraging desire.