What Is OSHA and What Do They Do?
Mention of the word “OSHA” around employers usually makes them cringe with discomfort. But really what is OSHA and what do they do? How can they help employers instead of just fining and disciplining them?
The answer to this comes in many forms, but let’s take a look at some general OSHA stats. Usually when OSHA is called, someone is whistle-blowing on their employer for safety reasons. Another common reason is that OSHA is called to investigate a serious injury or fatality on the job—which is any employer or insurance company’s worst nightmare.
The following statistics were taken from the OSHA website http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html
“OSHA is a small agency; with our state partners we have approximately 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation — which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.”[WCx]
Worker Injuries, Illnesses, and fatalities
4,690 workers were killed on the job in 2010 [BLS revised 2010 workplace fatality data*] (3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) — more than 90 a week or nearly 13 deaths every day. (This is a slight increase from the 4,551, fatal work injuries in 2009, but the second-lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992).
“Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy. American workers are not looking for a handout or a free lunch. They are looking for a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work. They just want to go to work, provide for their families, and get home in one piece.”
– Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Workers Memorial Day speech April 26, 2012
Construction’s “Fatal Four”
Out of 4,206* worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2010, 774 or 18.7% were in construction. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for nearly three out of five (56%) construction worker deaths in 2010*, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 437 workers’ lives in America every year.
- Falls – 264 out of 774 total deaths in construction in CY 2010 (34%)
- Electrocutions – 76 (10%)
- Struck by Object – 64 (8%)
- Caught-in/between – 33 (4%)
Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in FY2011
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
- Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
- Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
- Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
- Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
- Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)
- Machine guarding (machines, general requirements, general industry) (29 CFR 1910.212) [WCx]
OSHA is Making a Difference
In four decades, OSHA and our state partners, coupled with the efforts of employers, safety and health professionals, unions and advocates, have had a dramatic effect on workplace safety.
- Worker deaths in America are down — from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2010
- Worker injuries and illnesses are down — from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to fewer than 4 per 100 in 2010.
The “Fatal Four” injuries within the realm of construction can be hard to avoid. Falls and electrocutions can happen. But being struck by objects and being caught in/between things can be lessened with proper training and overall increased alertness within your workforce on the job site. All injuries cannot be prevented, but these stats can be an eye-opener for any employer that does construction-type work.
The mere fact that on any given day, 13 workers leave the house for work and never come home due to a fatality incident is a scary statistic. Fatality claims are an adjuster’s worst nightmare. There are a ton of issues, and none of them are pleasant. Every worker out there doesn’t think it will happen to them, but it happens 13 times every day.
Safety is a team effort, and every employee has to do their part. Share these points with your staff at your next meeting, and be proactive in ways to lessen the risk on the job site. By implementing more safety awareness, you could very well be saving the life of one of your employees.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL: www.WCManual.com
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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