Beyond the Obvious: Unraveling Hidden Workplace Dangers
Workplace safety and health hazards are critical considerations in any work environment, encompassing a wide range of potential risks that could impact the well-being of employees. The primary goal of workplace safety is to create a secure and healthy working environment, minimizing the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and exposure to hazardous substances; thereby reducing long-term health issues.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency under the United States Department of Labor, is tasked with ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA sets and enforces standards across various industries, conducts inspections to ensure compliance, and mandates training and education to promote understanding of safety regulations. The agency engages in outreach programs, collaborates with stakeholders through partnerships, and administers whistleblower protection.
OSHA collects and analyzes data on workplace injuries, assists small businesses in compliance, and plays a role in emergency response situations. Additionally, it oversees recordkeeping, reporting, and the rulemaking process to continually improve and enforce workplace safety and health regulations. The mission of OSHA is to create a working environment where employers prioritize the well-being of their employees through proactive safety measures and regulatory compliance.
To gain practical insights into OSHA's operations, consider the case outlined below.
CASE STUDY: Workplace Safety Inspection at Dynamic Tool Co. Inc.
A recent inspection conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, uncovered serious violations at El Paso's Dynamic Tool Co. Inc., putting workers at risk.
Dynamic Tool originated in 1979 as a tool and dye shop based in El Paso, as per OSHA records. This privately owned machine shop specializes in the production of close-tolerance components, extrusion items, impact-extruded aluminum components, and precision parts. Furthermore, Dynamic Tool holds a prominent position as one of the nation's foremost manufacturers of cylindrical and elliptical cans, catering to clientele in diverse industries such as automotive, medical, and military, as outlined by the agency.
The inspection was conducted as part of the OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on amputations in manufacturing. The inspection revealed a total of 58 violations, including two willful safety violations and one willful health violation.
Willful Safety Violations
OSHA levied willful safety citations against the company due to the absence of machine guards, exposing workers to potential amputations and injuries from nip points, rotating parts, and flying chips and sparks.
Willful Health Violation
The willful health citation was issued due to the company's failure to establish and maintain an audiometric testing program for employees exposed to excessive noise.
Additional Safety and Health Violations
Apart from the willful violations listed above, OSHA cited the company for several other serious non-compliance issues, including:
- The absence of lockout/tagout systems;
- Inadequate training on energy control procedures;
- Improper material storage procedures;
- Unsafe use of powered industrial trucks;
- Neglecting to install necessary guards around vertical or inclined belts and gears;
- Permitting the presence of significant electrical hazards associated with flexible cords, junction boxes, and fittings; and
- Failure to create and execute a noise monitoring program. serious electrical hazards.
In response to the findings, OSHA proposed penalties totaling $596,221, in accordance with federal statute against Dynamic Tool Co.
OSHA Area Director, Diego Alvarado expressed deep concern about the safety hazards identified at Dynamic Tool Co., emphasizing the severity of the violations in relation to the company's extensive history. Alvarado stated, "There is no excuse for allowing the dozens of safety and health failures we cataloged, many of which have the potential to cause employees serious and permanent injuries, or worse."
The gravity of the violations of the above case underscores the importance of prioritizing workplace safety and adherence to federal safety and health laws.
Online Safety Training
Workplace safety must extend beyond mere adherence to regulations. Employers should view employee safety and health as a critical part of being a responsible and ethical business entity. To safeguard the well-being of the workforce, employers should prioritize and allocate resources to robust safety programs, fostering a secure and healthy work environment. This can be partly fulfilled by enrolling employees in safety training courses, so they understand and are prepared to respond to safety issues that exist or arise in the workplace.
We offer top-of-the-line interactive and up-to-date safety training programs, click here to learn more.
OSHA News Release - Region 6. (2023, November 14). US Department of Labor finds El Paso machine shop, manufacturer willfully exposed employees to dozens of workplace safety, health hazards. Website. https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region6/11142023