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OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an influence on every industry. Learn more about which OSHA standards apply to your workplace, along with ways to remain compliant with federal safety regulations.

Topics

  • Safety and Health Programs for Electrical Contractors: Preliminary Research

    Electrical contractors may have been working in the field for decades, remaining injury-free the whole time. They might go on to train their staff in the common-sense protections that have kept them safe through countless installations. But despite this admirable preparation, employees can still be injured on the job. In 2016, for instance, workers sustained more than 1,600 electrical injuries... Continue Reading
  • Three Parts of an Effective Workplace Safety Program, According to OSHA

    How effective is your existing workplace safety program? According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. businesses are headed in the right direction. The incidence rate of workplace injuries and illnesses was 10.9 per 100 in 1972; by 2017, it had plummeted to 2.8 per 100 workers. In 1970, 38 workers lost their lives to occupational hazards... Continue Reading
  • Do OSHA Regulations Apply to Independent Contractors?

    In a 2001 standard interpretation letter, Russell Swanson, then-director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, made it clear that self-employed workers are not subject to OSHA’s construction safety standards. “If a construction worker is truly self-employed — is not an employee — and has no employees working for him or her, OSHA has no authority to require that individual to abide by OSHA construction requirements,” Swanson wrote. That seems simple enough. After all, the construction safety standards devised and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were built to protect employees. Independent contractors aren’t employees, as any tax professional will tell you. But what about subcontractors working under a general contractor? What about equal partners on the same job site?... Continue Reading
  • National Forklift Safety Day 2019: What It Is and Why It Matters

    June 11, 2019 is the sixth annual National Forklift Safety Day. The Industrial Truck Association, the top trade organization for lift truck manufacturers, organizes this yearly industry event. The stated goal is to bring together forklift manufacturers, dealers, end users, and government regulators to raise awareness of crucial safety issues surrounding the use of forklifts. After all, everyone involved in... Continue Reading
  • Electrical Safety in the Forklift Battery Room

    The unique power demands of forklift battery rooms create singular electrical hazards. Electricians can’t simply cut power to the system and proceed without caution; batteries remain energized even when separated from charging systems. Additionally, unless the battery room was designed with working clearance and guarding around all live components, it can be a particularly dangerous place for workers to enter.... Continue Reading
  • Safety at the Electrical Supply Warehouse

    We spend a lot of time discussing electrical safety at the jobsite, in the home, and even in schools. But what about safety programs for the workers who make electrical systems possible? Long before electricians begin to observe their strict lockout/tagout protocols or double-check the NEC, the electrical-material supply chain is hard at work, manufacturing, storing, shipping, and distributing the... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics for Electrical Workers

    Some electricians deride the term “ergonomics” as a meaningless buzzword, pointing out that marketers use it to describe everything from wire strippers to work boots. Other electrical contractors are always up to their elbows in the latest biomechanical research, looking for ways to save their lower backs. Either way, the fact is that ergonomics can help create a safer, more... Continue Reading
  • Are OSHA Regulations the Same as Laws?

    Most employers in the U.S. are familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or, as it’s better known, OSHA. They must adhere to OSHA regulations to avoid costly fines and other penalties. But what exactly is an OSHA regulation? How do standards differ from laws? Every citizen must obey the law, but are there occasions or circumstances that make companies immune to OSHA standards? These are simple questions, but strangely, no one seems in a hurry to provide the answers. The truth is, the difference between a regulation and a law gets into the heart of governance. For employers in the industrial and construction sectors, understanding that difference can help create safer, more profitable places of business. So what’s... Continue Reading
  • Balancing Wellness and Efficiency in the Physical Plant

    Physical plant managers at universities must maintain an efficient workforce, but that can’t be accomplished without adequate wellness programs that also keep workers healthy. In that sense, the university physical plant department occupies a meeting point between the principles of both hard and soft facilities management. Managers must consider infrastructure, equipment, and the valuable employees who use that equipment to... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Confined Space Standards for the Construction Industry

    While OSHA’s confined space standards have been on the books since 1913, it wasn’t until 2015 that the Administration issued such rules specifically for the construction industry. Construction workers encounter many risks you won’t find in other industries, particularly when workers enter tight, hard-to-reach spaces. Besides, construction sites typically feature multiple employers, and for this odd situation, the generalized standards came up short. At some point, it became clear that the general-industry standards for working in confined spaces weren’t addressing hazards at construction sites. That’s when regulators developed the rules found in 29 CFR 1926 subpart AA. Here’s what employers within the construction industry need to know about the newer set of OSHA standards for working in confined spaces: What... Continue Reading
  • OSHA for Construction Welders: Storing Gas Cylinders

    Gas cylinders present obvious dangers for welders, but fortunately, proper equipment — and strict adherence to OSHA guidelines — can mitigate the risks. Whether you’re working with gas cylinders for the first time or you’re simply looking to ensure full compliance in your facility, this overview should help you understand OSHA requirements for storing gas cylinders safely. The good news... Continue Reading
  • Construction Ergonomics: Safety Solutions for Overhead Work

    The right construction ergonomics program can prevent costly injuries, improve staff morale, and boost productivity. But different tasks create different ergonomic risks. Workers who spend most of the shift with arms raised and necks tilted back — while installing conduit, ducting, or overhead lighting, for instance — may develop any number of musculoskeletal disorders. Here are a few tips for... Continue Reading
  • Building a Culture of Electrical Safety in the Construction Industry

    Electrical safety in the construction industry has been studied, argued over, and refined since Thomas Edison started burying copper wires beneath the streets of Manhattan in 1882. From the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — which publishes NFPA 70, otherwise known as the National Electrical Code (NEC) — to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all sorts of safety... Continue Reading
  • Preparing the Shipping/Receiving Area for DC Peak Season

    The holiday peak season for distribution centers encompasses both shipping and receiving, making this area a potential efficiency bottleneck. Every DC manager needs a plan for scaling up outbound orders while simultaneously processing returns. The good news is that the elements of this plan don’t need to be expensive or difficult. We’ve already looked at a few strategies for preparing... Continue Reading
  • Safety and Ergonomics for Commercial Lighting Installation Jobs

    Commercial lighting installation is a major part of any nonresidential construction project. It is important to recognize and address the safety hazards associated with the job — especially since these risks are intensified by strong demand for lighting in the commercial sector. The latest Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides a snapshot of the sheer scope of lighting demand in the U.S. According to EIA research, there were 87,093 million square feet of commercial building stock in 2012. Nearly 69,000 million square feet of that space, or 82 percent of the whole, was lighted. Most of that illumination came from standard fluorescent light fixtures. A full 93 percent of commercial buildings with illumination... Continue Reading
  • Making the Most of Automotive Plant Shutdown

    Automakers and other manufacturers use summer shutdowns to perform vital tasks to keep operations running smoothly. While these lulls in output can be expensive — after all, factories are not only stopping production but spending big money on improvements — they can also increase productivity. And when management takes time to carefully plan a plant turnaround, they can reap even... Continue Reading
  • OSHA on Forklift Battery Changing Stations and Workplace Safety

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses industrial battery changing in Parts 1910 and 1926. More specifically, 29 CFR 1910.178(g) and 29 CFR 1910.305(j)(7) address changing and storage of industrial batteries while 29 CFR 1926.441 lists required safety measures during charging. Here’s a summary of the federal code. The Battery-Changing Procedure The change-out itself can be a dangerous process... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards for Sheet Metal Storage at Shops and Warehouses

    Sheet metal isn’t always the simplest material to work with, but choosing the right type of storage can set you up for a safer, more successful material handling environment at the shop or warehouse. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hasn’t written a regulation that refers to sheet metal storage in specific, the standards do offer clues. Here... Continue Reading
  • Sheet Metal Handling at the Jobsite

    Sheet metal handling entails major ergonomic risks when appropriate precautions are not taken. Working in extreme temperatures, placing continuous pressure on the hands, lifting parts with awkward shapes and sizes, and strenuous working positions are all common ergonomic risks on a job site. To protect against these hazards, here are some important tips from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. Take a... Continue Reading
  • Skilled Labor Shortages in Manufacturing: Doing More with Fewer Employees

    There’s a skilled labor shortage in manufacturing and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute teamed up for a study of the industry in 2015. They found that over the next decade, manufacturing companies will need 3.4 million workers — but will have a 2 million-worker shortfall. This precipitous drop in skilled talent... Continue Reading
  • Forklift Work Platforms for Safely Performing Overhead Tasks

    Without Forklift Work Platforms, performing overhead tasks in warehouses is dangerous business. A cursory glance at a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) fact sheet is enough to make a warehouse manager wonder, “What can I do to protect my workers?” That’s where heavy-duty safety equipment like Forklift Work Platforms come in. These dedicated personnel-lifting devices can make overhead tasks, like... Continue Reading
  • Safety Requirements for the Forklift Battery Room: Back to Basics

    There are two very important reasons to maintain a safe battery room — to protect employees and to comply with federal and local regulations. Heavy-duty, ergonomic battery-changing equipment with abundant safety features helps every operation using electric forklifts to accomplish both these goals at the same time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gives both general and specific guidance... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Guidelines for Forklift Traffic on Dock Ramps and Yard Ramps

    Loading ramps can be perilous places for forklift operation. So it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has quite a bit to say on the topic. Much of their advice is common sense, but it never hurts to have a refresher and a checklist of requirements for investing in dock ramps. Some of the more general... Continue Reading
  • Customize Shipping Room Desks to Optimize Shipping/Receiving Tasks

    Workstations make a difference, and standard, off-the-shelf shipping room desks could be cutting into your productivity in more ways than one. People think of ergonomic improvements in the workplace as benefitting the employees. While that’s undeniably true, that doesn’t mean that employers don’t benefit as well—and we’re not just talking about reductions in sick days and injuries. By eliminating the... Continue Reading
  • Earthquake Preparedness in the Warehousing Industry

    Because of their unpredictable nature and powerful tremors, earthquakes pose a unique threat to the warehousing industry. These two qualities make it difficult to evacuate a warehouse without risking injury from toppling racks or falling merchandise. Earthquakes will always pose a danger to people inside buildings. But there are still relatively inexpensive steps warehouse managers can take to reduce injury... Continue Reading
  • Customize Order Picking Carts for Unique Applications

    Order Picking Carts (OPC) from BHS provide simple material handling for order picking and other industrial tasks. However, sometimes clients need special modifications of these heavy-duty steel carts in order to meet a unique workplace challenge. That’s why BHS offers full customization for OPCs. Engineers at BHS design carts from the ground up to fit into highly specific applications at... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Hazards in the Forklift Battery Room: Problems and Solutions

    Addressing major hazards in the battery room like fires, explosions, and acid burns can lead some managers to neglect the smaller ergonomic issues. Unfortunately, these small issues can also become big problems when left unaddressed. Luckily, common-sense precautions allow battery-room managers to protect employees from both kinds of risk. Here are some straightforward ways to address recurrent ergonomic issues in... Continue Reading
  • Material Handling Ergonomics: Using the “Golden Zone” for Safer Lifting

    Warehouse managers often focus on equipment solutions to ergonomics issues. And while there’s good reason to invest in assistive lifting equipment, there are cheaper and easier ways to get big returns. The number one way? Teach workers to lift in the ergonomic “golden zone.” The Dangers of Poor Lifting Technique The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2015,... Continue Reading
  • How Better Warehouse Ergonomics Improves Productivity

    In the not-so-distant past, managers viewed warehouse ergonomics as mostly a matter of worker comfort—it was a nice thing to provide, but not a necessity. And while comfort is certainly one element of ergonomics, it is just one of many benefits of safer and more efficient processes. A more essential and frequently overlooked advantage to good ergonomics is improved productivity.... Continue Reading
  • Warehouse Ergonomics: Order Picking and Pallet Building Safety Tips

    October is National Ergonomics Month, and in honor of this yearly reminder to match “the work to the worker,” we’re reviewing two of the most common tasks in the distribution warehouse: order picking and pallet building. Both of these jobs traditionally contribute to the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as strains, sprains, and pulled muscles. The reasons for this are... Continue Reading
  • Electrician Safety in Cold Outdoor Environments

    Electrical contractors can’t simply pack up and wait out the winter weather; eventually, electricians just have to work in the cold. Extreme temperatures create special hazards, especially for electricians, and staying safe in the depths of winter requires special efforts on the part of employers and employees alike. The Occupational Safety and Health Association breaks down their safety rules for... Continue Reading
  • Stacking Pallets: OSHA Regulations

    Stacking empty pallets saves space and removes tripping and collision hazards from warehouse floors. But if workers stack pallets carelessly or overly high, they could be creating an even bigger hazard. To figure out the best practices for pallet stacking, let’s take a look at what OSHA and other regulators have to say. OSHA addresses stacks of items, including pallets,... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics and Pallet Building: Problems and Solutions

    Rising worker’s compensation claims and an aging workforce responsible for pallet building tasks are causing warehouse managers to rethink their processes. Add in the fact that industry experts project the use of pallets to increase through 2019, and you can see why it’s necessary to reevaluate the pallet building and unloading process. Even if warehouse managers didn’t care about productivity... Continue Reading
  • Forklift Work Platforms and OSHA Compliance

    There’s an inherent risk in elevating staff using a forklift work platform. Given that risk, it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has quite a bit to say on the matter. In fact, at one point the federal agency even discussed banning the use of forklifts as a support for work platforms. After a lengthy discussion, OSHA... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Safety Standards for Manual Material Handling: A Global Phenomenon

    The United States is unique among industrialized nations in its approach to ergonomics legislation. Many employers abroad are legally compelled to protect workers from the risks of injury associated with manual material handling. Although, in the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is left to correct the most egregious ergonomic violations with the General Duty Clause of the... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Requirements for Testing Industrial Lifting Equipment

    You can’t leave anything to chance in an industrial setting. The material handling equipment you need to keep shipments moving in a warehouse, or to send raw materials down the line in a manufacturing facility, has to be tested before it’s put into daily use. That’s not just common sense; it’s also the law. It might not surprise you to... Continue Reading
  • How Forklift Battery Handling Equipment Helps to Meet Federal Safety Regulations

    There are a couple of basic regulatory safety issues to keep in mind when you outfit your battery room. OSHA regulations require a “conveyor, overhead hoist, or equivalent material handling equipment” to assist staff in changing forklift batteries. The reasoning is plain: Forklift batteries are heavy. Without the proper mechanical assistance, staff members are at a high risk of workplace... Continue Reading
  • Designing a Better Forklift Battery Room

    So you’ve decided you need a new battery room. Maybe your current battery charging area is outdated, or perhaps your fleet is just now large enough to justify the expense. Regardless of the reason, your new battery room’s success depends on a great plan — from choosing the ideal location to optimizing equipment. Battery room planning tools from BHS help... Continue Reading
  • Washing Forklift Batteries and the Law: What You Need to Know

    Washing forklift batteries is a simple maintenance task, but like so many warehouse operations, this activity is subject to serious legal regulations. Don’t let that scare you away from the job; washes extend the operating life of your batteries and lift trucks, plus they keep your workplace safer. But it’s crucial that you obey the law when you wash batteries.... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Four: Construction Industry Standards

    Comparing Battery Handling Regulations for General Industry and Construction In the previous two posts, we provided a basic introduction to OSHA regulations for battery rooms in general industries. This post will examine OSHA standard 1926.441, which addresses batteries and battery charging in the construction industry. The relationship between the battery handling regulations in standards 1910 and 1926 is complex. In... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Three: The Rest of OSHA 1910

    OSHA’s Rules on Safety Equipment in Battery Changing Areas In our previous post, we discussed the OSHA standards that refer specifically to changing and charging batteries for powered industrial trucks: 29 CFR 1910.178(g). While this code forms the core of the OSHA requirements for battery handling, safety regulations from other parts of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards for general... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Two: OSHA 1910.178(g)

    Interpreting OSHA General Industry Regulations for Safe Battery Handling Regulations are a big part of running your facility, and regardless of your industry, OSHA guidelines are especially important. In this blog, we’ll take a look at these detailed (and occasionally confusing) guidelines and try to provide a general overview. Remember, if you need to ensure compliance, you may need to... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part One: Introduction to OSHA Regulations

    Are you using lift trucks safely? Warehousing operations in the United States are legally bound to protect workers from unsafe conditions, as defined by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While OSHA standards dictate workplace safety practices in all aspects of the warehousing industry, few areas are more impacted by these safety regulations than the battery room. Oversights in... Continue Reading