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Third Quarter 2017

Federal OSHA May Not be Enforcing the Rules for Your Employees    

By:  Chris A Hall, CHST

Everyone assumes that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplace safety in the United States, but in many cases the enforcement authority does not fall to OSHA alone.  A multitude of other agencies have been provided the ability to keep workers safe through federal statutes, acts and agreements. This discussion intentionally excludes private businesses which may be exempt altogether. 

To clarify where the work falls from a jurisdictional perspective, first let’s look at two federal agencies that manage safety on their sites.  The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have memorandums of understanding, giving authority to the respective agencies. This allows DOE and NRC to manage all employees and contractors operating under their direction.  The agencies do not enforce regulations at sites which are leased to private contractors or DOE sites not affiliated with the Atomic Energy Act.  For these locations, federal or state-approved programs maintain authority. 

Other agencies, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), govern safety as it effects the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles on the road. Employers are still required to also follow OSHA standards in their workplaces. 

Mining work is regulated by an entirely different group within the Department of Labor.  MSHA, or the Mine Safety and Health Administration, has authority over employers and contractors on surface and underground mining through an interagency agreement with OSHA.  This provides MSHA the authority over mining sites, but allows them to utilize OSHA standards when their own regulations may not be specific to the hazards presented. 

Now that we’ve determined that the work will fall under OSHA, let’s move on to one of the easier concepts to understand, state-run agencies.  States are permitted to manage health and safety as long as they establish the ability and conform to OSHA’s approval process.  Each state must meet the minimum requirements put in place to ensure that enforcement on the state level is at least as effective as that on the federal level.  State-run programs are permitted to write their own regulations as long as they meet the minimum standards outlined in the federal rules.  Some states choose to go beyond the federal enforcement initiatives with more specific rules. Twenty-one states and Puerto Rico currently manage their own health and safety rules under Federal OSHA’s approval.  With this enforcement, state- run programs also cover state and local public sector employees.  In some states, OSHA still enforces the private sector rules while the states themselves have agencies mandated to manage safety on the state and local level.  Six other states, such as Illinois, use their authority under approved plans to manage state and local public employees. 

Another example of other agencies with rulemaking and enforcement authority is the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB).  The agreement permits a more effective working relationship to establish guidelines and promote safe work practices in areas regulated by the DOB.  Cities like New York and Chicago have specific scaffolding regulations due to the higher prevalence of large scaffolding systems and working at extreme elevations. 

In all instances, employers and contractors must be aware of which agencies regulate safety for their workplace. Hazard identification and abatement still comprise the foundation of all of these agencies managing health and safety regulation under their jurisdiction, but remember, in many cases this authority passes for more stringent regulations, not less. 

 

 

Don’t Make “The List”

OSHA’S TOP TEN MOST FREQUENTLY CITED VIOLATIONS

By: Ryan Bruner, safety consultant 

OSHA violations incurred by companies are never taken lightly, but are typically avoidable. Simple steps to prevent these violations include: recognizing job hazards, annual training, and awareness. OSHA citations pose great hazards to a company’s workforce, ultimately costing companies more than fines, workers’ compensation claims, injuries, and fatalities for example. The intent of this article is to prove that training is a key element in reducing injuries. Below are the top 10 most frequently cited violations by federal OSHA (2015/2016):

 

2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 – Sept. 30, 2015)

2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 – Sept. 30, 2016)

1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection (C)

1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection (C)

2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication

2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication

3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding (C)

3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding (C)

4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection

4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection

5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout

5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout

6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks

6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks

7. 1926.1053 – Ladders (C)

7. 1926.1053 – Ladders (C)

8. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods

8. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

9. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

9. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods

10. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements

10. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements

(C) = Construction Standard

 

Keeping your workforce safe should be your main goal as a business entity. As for OSHA’s Top 10 list, fall protection (1926.501) is the most cited violation for the sixth straight year (safetyandhealthmagazine.com). This is problematic because every employer has the ability to plan ahead, provide the proper equipment, and train essential personnel to operate equipment safely.

 

Fall protection, like all from the above list, should be synonymous with training. If your personnel do not have the correct training to properly use specific fall protection systems and equipment, you may help fall protection be at the top of the list for a seventh straight year. Your equipment maintenance is of upmost importance to maintain and inspect. Proper inspection by your competent person(s) need to be conducted prior to every use. Annual training by your safety department maintains compliance. You owe it to your employees to have accurate training in place to have accurate compliance. Up-to-date information also ensures compliance and more importantly, safe personnel.

 

An interesting, and all too obvious note about the above list, is the almost identical positioning of violations from 2015 to 2016 (except with respect to Electrical, Wiring Methods and Machine Guarding, switching positions in 2016). It poses the question, why? Why are there companies repeatedly allowing these violations to become apparent and repetitive? Or is it that other companies aren’t informing themselves with these statistics and landing themselves on OSHA’s list? Or does OSHA tend to focus on these safety areas? Whatever the case may be, the above list is a good starting point for finding, and closing, gaps in your company’s safety program.  

 

Whether you are the Safety Director or a front-line worker, the above list should be incorporated in your safety program. Just having words on a page in a safety manual is the bare minimum. Form vs. Function needs to be established and recognized for numbers 1-10 above, and beyond. So the next time you find yourself walking your facility or jobsite, recognize and look for the hazards/violations that may be listed above. If you don’t, the next visitor badge handed out at your facility may be given to an OSHA inspector telling you, “You made the list.” 

 

 

References:

 

United States Department of Labor (Ed.). (2016). Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.osha.gov/Top_Ten_Standards.html

 

Safety and Health Magazine (Ed.). (2016). OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations for 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/14927-2016-oshas-top-10-most-cited-violations

 

 

 

December Deadline for ELD Mandate:

Quick Reference Guide to Stay Compliant

By: Ryan Bruner, safety consultant 

On December 18, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will be implementing a final rule for electronic logging devices (ELD’s). ELD’s will directly affect commercial buses and trucks, as well as Canadian and Mexican-based drivers. Title 49 – Part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers: Subpart A—§395.8 “Driver's record of duty status” now establishes all rules and regulations for carriers and drivers to comply with this new standard. Read the full standard here. This article will cover 3 key objectives to inform and prepare your fleet on the upcoming December 2017 mandate.

Those carriers who have implemented ELD systems and programs within their fleets, dependent upon certain guidelines we will discuss later, should translate to the new mandate set forth in December 2017. With that said, the updated ELD ruling can be a bit confusing to carriers and drivers, but the following key objectives should help you start rolling in the right direction.

 

Long Haul, Short Haul, Regional and Local Carriers: Do I need to update my Hours of Service Program, and How?

This list of key requirements will help in easing FMCSA’s must-haves for introducing ELD’s into your fleet:

1.)    Applicability of the ELD Rule & Exemptions

Who does this apply to? The ELD Mandate begins December 2017 and affects all commercial buses and trucks. Right? Sort of. December 2017 is the start date for all commercial carriers (buses and trucks alike), but there are some exemptions within this mandate:

·         Drivers who operate under the short haul exceptions. These drivers may continue using timecards. They are not required to keep RODS (Records of Duty Status) and will not be required to use ELD’s.

Ø  Short haul exceptions: 49 CFR 395.1(3)

·         Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.

·         Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

·         Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000. (source: fmcsa.dot.gov)

 

2.)    Records of Duty Status (RODS) & Retaining Hours of Service (HOS) Records

Nothing has changed in the realm of general operating hours of service (70/80-hr work week) or retention of records. If your company is required to transition to using an ELD though, there are some considerations that should be made:

·         Ability to have distinct driver and administrative login versions.

Ø  This gives your fleet of drivers the ability to have unique login ID’s and passwords to keep their hours of service separate and secure.

Ø  You might have teams of two people operating a truck together. These unique ID’s and passwords eliminate operating on one another’s e-log.

·         Driving time is recorded at a minimum cyclical period of 60-minutes. This will require updating and recording of date, time, location, engine usage, mileage, and driver identification.

·         Inability to erase or manipulate data collected.

·         Transfer of data to either a wireless or direct source.

Ø  This is primarily used for DOT inspections, when a local or state authority requests to see electronic logs (fmcsa.dot.gov)

 

3.)    Implementation of an ELD Training Program

A new HOS training program may seem daunting, but if recordkeeping is established, the actual use of your new electronic logging device will prove to be the greatest obstacle.

The following steps are intended to act as a baseline for those companies who will have to comply with the December 2017 ELD Mandate:

·         Formal classroom or on-the-job (or road) training at initial purchase of ELD program.

Ø  Quizzes are a great way to recognize any gaps in driver retention.

Ø  Most programs have customer service departments, who will assist in equipment functionality.

·         Annual (if necessary) and refresher training to determine your fleets’ competency of the program and HOS recordkeeping.

Ø  Training should mimic the initial, formal training with an emphasis on proficiency and efficiency.

·         Evaluation of training program.

Ø  Develop a questionnaire asking questions to determine the effectiveness of the training program for all drivers to complete (e.g. – Perception Survey).

Ø  Perform program audits.

§  Most ELD programs have web-based portals to search fleet-wide and specific driver HOS violations.

(Click here for a detailed look at implementing or assessing your already-existing safety training program)

 

With all the intricacies in operating a transportation company, the new ELD mandate, seems like another “flat tire” during daily operations. With the three topics mentioned earlier, you have an upper-hand on the December 18, 2017 ELD Mandate. All in all, your drivers need to be confident in basic recordkeeping requirements (e.g. – OTR Drivers: 80-hr Work Max; 11-Hr Driving/On-Duty Max, 14-Hr On-Duty Max, etc.). You are the one to help create an effective and realistic program that will benefit your company, and more importantly your fleet of drivers. 

 

References:

Drivers and Carriers. (2015, September 03). Retrieved June 30, 2017, from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/drivers-and-carriers

Hall, C. (n.d.). Fourth Quarter 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2017, from http://www.safetyresources.com/evaluating-your-safety-training-program

 

 

 

 

 

 

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