How to Address OSHA’s Big 4 Hazards in Your Workplace

By February 25, 2016 No Comments

The Big Four hazards are: Falls; Electrocutions; Caught in or between; and Struck by.  Because of the fatal consequences posed by these hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health’s (OSHA) focus serves as a good reminder to address these in your own operations.

To prevent falls: Be diligent when it comes to working in personnel platforms lifted with forklifts. OSHA requires prior written approval from the forklift manufacturer before adding a platform to the forks of such equipment. If the manufacturer does not respond or responds negatively, OSHA says that the employer can rely on a safety analysis conducted by a registered professional engineer. But the engineer must do testing that is similar to what the manufacturer would do.  Similarly, make sure employees have the correct tools for the job (such as ladders, scaffolding, or scissor lifts), and that they use and maintain this equipment properly.  Finally, always use good housekeeping procedures to control slip hazards.

To prevent electrocution: These accidents can be prevented the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, and safe work practices, among other things.  Workers must be very careful if performing work near power lines, and must choose the appropriate ladder and other equipment.  Also, make sure equipment is in good condition, that repairs are made only by qualified personnel, and that proper lockout or tagout procedures are in place for repairs.  Be extra cautious in damp locations.

To prevent being caught in or between: make sure machine safeguards are in place.  Moving machine parts can pose serious danger.  Despite all machines having the same basic components, their safeguarding needs widely differ due to varying physical characteristics and operator involvement.  In addition, loose clothing, jewelry, or long hair can be caught in moving parts and pose serious danger.

To prevent struck by accidents: make sure workers stay at safe operating distances and are separated from machinery and equipment.  Also, keep material handling equipment in good working order and ensure that only trained employees operate it.  Make sure all workers know areas where moving equipment operates, and, where possible, separate pedestrian traffic.  OSHA requires that permanent aisles and passageways be free from obstructions and appropriately marked where mechanical handling equipment is used.  It can also be helpful to install convex mirrors at blind aisle intersections, and post traffic control signs.  Training is critical, along with lighting, alarms, and spotters in many cases, to prevent struck-by hazards.”

(The Business Journals, 16 February 2016).

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