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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Carrying Out OSHA's Mission

Enforcement plays an important part in OSHA’s
efforts to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and
fatalities. Through OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting
and Enhanced Enforcement programs, the agency
sends a clear message that it takes its mission
seriously. When the agency finds employers who
fail to uphold their employee safety and health
responsibilities, OSHA deals with them strongly.
In addition, OSHA administers and supports a
comprehensive field occupational safety and
health guidance and compliance assistance effort
within a variety of industry sectors including general
industry, maritime, construction, and health.
OSHA also administers and evaluates occupational
safety and health programs for all federal
agencies, assisting them in providing safe and
healthful working conditions for their employees.
OSHA also sets rules for the Federal Advisory
Council on Occupational Safety and Health, administers
an anti-discrimination program to protect the
rights of employees to seek safe and healthful
working conditions, and operates the cargo gear
accreditation program for certifying vessels’ cargo
gear and shore-based material handling devices.
OSHA carries out its enforcement activities
through its 10 regional offices and 90 area offices.
OSHA’s regional offices are located in Boston, New
York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas,
Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back injuries and Safe Lifting

Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all worker's compensation claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.
Moreover, though lifting, placing, carrying, holding and lowering are involved in manual materials handling (the principal cause of recordable work injuries) the BLS survey shows that four out of five of these injuries were to the lower back, and that three out of four occurred while the employee was lifting.
No approach has been found for totally eliminating back injuries caused by lifting, though it is felt that a substantial portion can be prevented by an effective back safety training and control program and ergonomic design of work tasks.
Suggested administrative controls include: - Training employees to utilize lifting techniques that place minimum stress on the lower back.
- Physical conditioning or stretching programs to reduce the risk of muscle strain.
Suggested engineering controls include:
- A reduction in the size or weight of the object lifted. The parameters include maximum allowable weights for a given set of task requirements; the compactness of a package; the presence of handles, and the stability of the package being handled.
- Adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf. Lifting which occurs below knee height or above shoulder height is more strenuous than lifting between these limits. Obstructions which prevent an employee's body contact with the object being lifted also generally increase the risk of injury.
- Installation of mechanical aids such as pneumatic lifts, conveyors, and/or automated materials handling equipment.
In one study it was determined that at least one-third of recordable back injuries could be prevented through better job design (ergonomics).
Other factors include frequency of lifting, duration of lifting activities, and type of lifting, as well as individual variables such as age, sex, body size, state of health, and general physical fitness.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What OSHA Does

OSHA uses three basic strategies, authorized by
the Occupational Safety and Health Act, to help
employers and employees reduce injuries, illnesses,
and deaths on the job:
• Strong, fair, and effective enforcement;
• Outreach, education, and compliance assistance;
• Partnerships, Alliances and other cooperative
and voluntary programs.
Based on these strategies, OSHA conducts a wide
range of programs and activities to promote
workplace safety and health. The agency:
• Encourages employers and employees to
reduce workplace hazards and to implement
new safety and health management systems
or improve existing programs;
• Develops mandatory job safety and health
standards and enforces them through
inspections, and, sometimes, by imposing citations,
penalties, or both;
• Promotes safe and healthful work environments
through cooperative programs including
the Voluntary Protection Programs, OSHA
Strategic Partnerships, and Alliances;
• Establishes responsibilities and rights for
employers and employees to achieve better
safety and health conditions;
• Supports the development of innovative ways
of dealing with workplace hazards;
• Establishes requirements for injury and illness
recordkeeping by employers, and for employer
monitoring of certain occupational illnesses;
• Establishes training programs to increase the
competence of occupational safety and health
• Provides technical and compliance assistance,
and training and education to help employers
reduce worker accidents and injuries;
• Works in partnership with states that operate
their own occupational safety and health programs;
• Supports the Consultation Programs offered
by all 50 states, the District of Columbia,
Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the
Northern Mariana Islands.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

OSHA's Mission

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and
healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s
role is to assure the safety and health of America’s
workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing
training, outreach, and education; establishing
partnerships; and encouraging continual process
improvement in workplace safety and health.
OSHA establishes and enforces protective standards
and reaches out to employers and employees
through technical assistance and consultation
programs. OSHA and its state partners have
approximately 2,400 inspectors and about 550
state consultants, plus complaint discrimination
investigators, engineers, physicians, educators,
standard writers, and other technical and support
personnel spread over more than 130 offices
throughout the country.
OSHA works to assure the safety and health of all
of America’s working men and women. Most
employees in the nation come under OSHA’s jurisdiction.
Other users and recipients of OSHA services
include: occupational safety and health professionals,
the academic community, lawyers, journalists,
and personnel of other government entities.
Part of OSHA’s mission is to provide assistance to
employers to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards.
OSHA provides a vast array of informational and
training materials focusing on numerous safety
and health hazards in the workplace.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who OSHA Covers

Private Sector Workers Most employees in the nation come under OSHA's jurisdiction. OSHA covers private sector employers and employees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state program. State-run health and safety programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program. To find the contact information for the OSHA Federal or State Program office nearest you, see the Regional and Area Offices map.
State and Local Government Workers Employees who work for state and local governments are not covered by Federal OSHA, but have OSH Act protections if they work in a state that has an OSHA-approved state program. Four additional states and one U.S. territory have OSHA approved plans that cover public sector employees only. This includes: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands. Private sector workers in these four states and the Virgin Islands are covered by Federal OSHA.
Federal Government Workers Federal agencies must have a safety and health program that meet the same standards as private employers. Although OSHA does not fine federal agencies, it does monitor federal agencies and responds to workers' complaints. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is covered by OSHA.
Who is not covered by the OSH Act:
  • Self-employed;
  • Immediate family members of farm employers that do not employ outside employees; and
  • Workers who are protected by another Federal agency (for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard)