Workplace Safety Year in Review 2019
Workplace Safety in 2019
We’re nearly at the end of 2019. It’s been quite a year for safety news and updates. Unfortunately, all too often the news is about an error or miscommunication that led to a tragic injury or loss of life. These stories are made all the more upsetting by the fact that many could be avoided by implementing best practices, whether it’s through personal protective equipment, training or warnings/instructions.
Safety Trends from the Past Year
Of all the safety issues that have been at the forefront this year, four major trends have stood out as especially noteworthy: fall protection, hazard communication, team member wellbeing, and safety training. These have been cited, both in direct and indirect ways, in OSHA’s top 10 workplace violations for this year as well. Understanding these trends and why they have been such central parts of the workplace safety conversation in 2019 can help to avoid future accidents. Read on to learn more about the trends and steps to take to increase safety and reduced liability risk.
Safety Trend #1: Fall
2019 was the ninth consecutive year that fall protection has topped OSHA’s list of violations. The administration has recorded over 6,000 safety violations this year alone.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent report, which covers 2017 accidents, of 5,147 total workplace deaths, 887 were from falls. That is over 17% of all workplace deaths.
An Anaheim, CA solar panel installation company was fined $193,905 this year for violations including not providing adequate fall protection. The investigation followed a serious injury when a worker fell from an Oakland home. Despite fall protection being a focal point of many organizations and OSHA, it continues to be a serious safety problem.
Following a tragic death in late 2018, a Maine roofing and home improvement company was fined nearly $1.8 million. This was an outlier situation but more and more fines of six-figures or more are becoming common as OSHA tries to crack down on fall safety issues.
Clarion Safety Solution: One of the common issues that result in falls is the improper use of PPE and lack of adherence to fall safety procedures. Proper warnings can remind employees of the correct procedure and the importance of using protection. Additionally, Clarion Safety’s trip hazard signs and slip, trip and fall labels can warn workers of potentially dangerous conditions that could result in an accident.
Safety Trend #2: Hazard Communication
Many workplace accidents could be avoided with effective hazard communication. Despite this, hazard communication remained on OSHA’s top 10 workplace violations for another year, holding the number two spot.
A manufacturer received a citation this year for repeat violations including not properly labeling several containers of hazardous substances. Alarmingly, there was an unknown chemical stored in a reused soda bottle and left on a drill press. The fine amounted to over $724,000.
Another company was fined over $200,000 for similar violations. A vegetable- and fruit-packing company was cited this year for violations including insufficient chemical hazard communication.
Clarion Safety Solution: To be compliant and safe, workplaces need to clearly label hazards with relevant information. Hazards may require GHS labels, chemical hazard labels, burn hazard signs or any of a number of other communicative labels. Hazard communication can help to prevent accidents from ever happening.
Safety Trend #3:
Focus on Employee Wellbeing
In recent years, employee wellbeing and mental health have taken increasingly important roles in the overall safety conversation. This topic has gained all the more prominence in 2019.
Total worker wellness can have significant safety benefits. People who are exhausted, dehydrated, hungry, feeling low or otherwise not at their best are more likely to be involved in accidents. That problem is doubly true for team members with substance abuse difficulties, which may be sparked or worsened by poor workplace wellness.
To help address some of these issues, the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation provided grants of up to $15,000 to small- to medium-sized companies to develop wellness programs. While a lot of existing safety programming focuses on occupational hazards, this initiative is focused on team member health and wellbeing.
Clarion Safety Solutions: One of the challenges of wellness initiatives is communication. Employees need to know that there are resources available to them to help with any issues they may be facing. Additionally, they may benefit from signage explaining rules for taking breaks and other wellness-related policies. Custom notice signs can help with communicating these important wellness concepts.
Safety Trend #4: Safety Training
In nearly all of its efforts, OSHA routinely emphasizes the importance of training. Whether it’s related to equipment training, new employee orientation, or regular training updates, this is a critical element to reducing accidents. That’s why, according to OSHA, training must be provided to workers who face hazards on the job. Trained workforces make sense not only from a safety perspective, but from a business perspective as well; with proper training, liability risk is reduced and workplaces can minimize costs and disruptions due to illnesses or injuries. OSHA provides training assistance and resources through many of its programs for businesses small and large to take advantage of. That includes training materials, training grants to nonprofit organizations and access to authorized education centers.
Clarion Safety Solutions: Accidents happen, but it takes a united effort to make them less common. This comes from truly investing in safety. Safety labels, signs and tags can help to reinforce and remind employees about proper safety procedures and PPE requirements.
Make achieving workplace safety a New Year's resolution. Clarion Safety can help your company reach this goal in 2020 and beyond. Rely on us for trusted expertise and high-quality products.
This blog was originally posted on 12/14/2018 and updated with new information.