Doors and windows are meant to keep consumers safe, whether it’s from hazardous weather, insects, etc. But what about the safety of those who manufacture these products? While manufacturer officials would say their employees’ safety is a number one concern, sometimes that’s not quite good enough for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In order to assist companies in their compliance of federal regulations, the National Lumber and Building Material Association (NLBMDA) hosted a webinar that addressed five of the top 10 OSHA violations.

Regina McMichael, president of The Learning Factory, a risk management firm, was the presenter.

McMichael presented the hierarchy of controls, designed to provide step to eliminating safety hazards.
McMichael presented the hierarchy of controls, designed to provide step to eliminating safety hazards.

“It’s tough these days to get great workers and to get those great workers to stay put so their safety is important,” she said.

McMichael began the presentation with a hierarchy of steps that should be taken when a dealing with potential safety violations.

“We always want to engineer, eliminate or substitute the hazard away before we get into administrative practices,” she said. “Administration? That even sounds painful, doesn’t it. Personal protective equipment is our last line of defense, but it’s what everyone thinks of in the first place.”

She gave an example of a sharp object. Rather than using personal protective equipment such as gloves to shield from the object, she proposed eliminating that threat altogether.

As for five of the top ten citations, McMichael addressed forklifts, hazard communication, respirators, wiring and guardrails.

  • Forklifts

It was recommended companies engineer away certain hazards to make them nonexistent. “I’m going to guess that there are ways to improve traffic patterns,” McMichael said, noting that one of her clients went from 10 forklifts to two after reevaluating forklift safety measures.

  • Hazcom (hazard communication)

McMichael encouraged listeners to update their hazcom practices. She said if it’s in a paper document format, to make it electronic. “Life is easier if you do it electronically,” she said.

  • Respirators

Companies should get rid of these altogether, according to the webinar. “The best practice is to stop using them. You can do that through local ventilation, there’s a whole lot of things. If you’ve got some nasty stuff in the air and can suck it out of the air before it gets breathed in, that would be great. I can’t say that’s all you have to do, though,” McMichael said.

  • Wiring

Exposed wiring was at the forefront of potential OSHA citations.

“For the kind of exposures we have, the only appropriate solution is to engineer the hazard away,” McMichael said. “The best possible solution [could be] to quite simply put a cover on [exposed wiring].” She also recommended walking your site, identifying dangers and hiring a certified electrician to take care of them.

  • Guardrails/holes

According to the webinar, making the investment in guardrails is the best way to go—much safer and efficient than a safety harness, McMichael said.

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