We have been talking about the Top Ten OSHA violations for fiscal year 2010, and the only two left to cover are #8 – Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178), and #10 – Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212). On the OSHA website, violations are listed, along with the amounts that companies paid. Many of them pay for repeat violations. It seems that it would be better to fix the problem than to keep paying fines. After all, human lives are at stake, and employers are not supposed to put their employees at risk.
Powered industrial trucks, (forklifts or lift trucks), are used primarily to move materials. They can be used to move, lift, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects onto pallets or in boxes, containers, or crates. The operator of a powered industrial truck may be moving steel around the job site, and must be trained in its safe operation in order to avoid exposing employees to being struck or crushed by the vehicle. An example of an expensive violation was OSHA’s determination that a certain manufacturer had twenty (count ‘em) violations for failing to properly train workers who operated powered industrial trucks. Also, for failing to protect workers from other workplace hazards, the company was fined a total of $274,500. OSHA states that failing to train, monitor and evaluate employees’ skills puts workers at unnecessary risk.
Both formal and practical training for operators must be provided. Formal may be by lecture or video. Practical includes demonstration and practical exercises. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years. The employer must evaluate the operator’s performance prior to operating the truck, and determine the operator to be competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely. If an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck, refresher training is needed.
Last, but not least, coming in at #10 on the list is Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.2120. Oddly enough, the same company that had fines for failing to properly train powered industrial truck operators, also received citations for alleged willful violations to fail to ensure machinery guards were in place at points of operation. A willful violation is one that is committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Another company was cited for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following the death of a worker who was pulled into a machine. The company failed to guard various moving parts on the machine against employee contact. Not guarding moving machine parts has the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are necessary to protect workers from these preventable injuries. The point of operation of a machine whose function exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding device shall be in conformity with any appropriate standards, therefore, or, in the absence of applicable specific standards, shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.
This same standard violation (machine guarding), was also listed as #5 on the highest penalties assessed by OSHA in 2010. Anyone who runs a machine that is not properly guarded should not take the chance on being injured. He/she should go to their supervisor and the supervisor should take action to remedy the situation.
This concludes our review of the Top Ten OSHA Violations for 2010. We will complete the list of Highest Penalties assessed for 2010 in tomorrow’s article. Again, it is costly to pay fines; but why not correct something that is a known violation of OSHA standards, rather than risk someone’s life?