Safety First

Creating a safety first culture may be easier said than done for some organizations, but for the hardworking agents of the federal OSHA it is just as easy said and done. OSHA has again released the top ten hazards or likely violations that all employers should evaluate and correct, if necessary. The list is as follows:

1. Fall protection
2. Hazard communication
3. Scaffolds
4. Respiratory protection
5. Lockout/tagout
6. Powered industrial trucks
7. Ladders
8. Machine guarding
9. Electrical wiring
10. Electrical, general requirements

OSHA conducts over 30,000 inspections per year and notes that the above-list are the frequent cause of violations issued to employers. Not all accidents can be prevented, some occurrences happen regardless of the safeguards put in place, but for those that can be prevented employers are required to provide adequate protection. A safe and healthy workplace can be achieved, but it requires diligence and attention. For example, the following can be helpful in maintaining a proactive approach to a safety first culture:

1. Regular inspections. Why wait for a state or federal agency to visit your workplace to conduct an inspection? Internal audits or inspections are critical to maintaining adequate knowledge of a facility. A trained internal auditor, risk management specialist or other employee(s) may have the knowledge to be able to conduct a complete site inspection. If this type of inspection is completed, it is important that the results are reviewed by a qualified professional (internal or external) to be sure that known safety hazards are remediated. If necessary, it may be advantageous to have your Company’s legal counsel review any internal inspection reports before sending to an outside third party.

2. Regular safety meetings. Establishing a safety committee may be easier than you think. A safety committee can be instrumental in educating new employees on safety practices at the Company or for alerting management to unknown hazards. The committee can be any size that is reasonable to the employer and typically participation is voluntary. Once established, the committee should hold a monthly meeting to discuss (1) safety concerns (2) follow up on remediation efforts of previously addressed hazards (3) brainstorm on ways to get others involved in maintaining a safety first culture, etc.

3. Reward safe practices in the moment. OSHA provides several opinion references related to incentivizing “good” or safe behavior. Visit to review OSHA’s opinion letters on safety incentives. Remember that any safety incentive cannot discourage workers from reporting accidents or injuries.