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OSHA develops new plan to lower occupational injuries from fall hazards

OSHA develops new plan to lower occupational injuries from fall hazard
OSHA develops new plan to lower occupational injuries from fall hazard

On January 8, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it had issued its yearly inspection plan, which includes information on how the agency will target specific areas where the risks are highest.

As a part of its Site-Specific Targeting (SST) 2012 program, OSHA will focus on programmed inspections of high-hazard, non-construction workplaces where 20 or more workers are present. The plan was created by assessing data collected from 80,000 respondents who worked in industries regarded as highly hazardous.

"Through the SST program, we can prevent injuries and illnesses, and save lives by focusing our inspection resources on employers in high-hazard worksites where workers are at greater risk," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels.

To start the program, OSHA will begin a study to determine exactly how effective SST is by focusing its efforts on 1,260 random worksites. OSHA will also include its national and local emphasis inspection programs.

Failing to comply with OSHA's standards can result in huge fines and costly downtime. For example, Zamastil Exteriors of Wonder Lake, Illinois was recently hit with $87,010 in proposed fines for failing to have the proper fall protection in place.

According to an OSHA release, the roofing company was cited with seven safety violations, including one willful and one repeat, after the agency investigated the company's operation two times in July and October 2012. During the inspections, OSHA found the employer failed to outfit its workers with the right fall protection.

"When working from heights, such as roofs, ladders and scaffolds, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely, provide the proper equipment and train workers," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Aurora.

The company was issued a willful violation for intentionally or knowingly disregarding OSHA's requirements, or for "indifference to employee safety and health."

Companies that keep accurate records of all maintenance management can greatly expedite the process by which OSHA conducts its inspections. 

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