Page 27 - OHS, November/December 2021
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railings and hand rails.
OSHA requires employers to:
■ Provide working conditions that are
free of known dangers.
■ Keep flfloors in work areas in a clean
and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
■ Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost
to workers.
■ Train workers about job hazards in a
language that they can understand.
COVID-19 Considerations
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to OSHA in February 2021, increased worksite complaints and reduced OSHA inspections left U.S. workers at an increased risk for unsafe work.10 The report said that since the start of the pandemic, OSHA received a sudden influx of complaints and as a means of reducing person-to-person contact, has also reduced the number of inspections, particularly onsite inspections. Compared to a similar period in 2019, OSHA received 15 percent more complaints in 2020, but performed 50 percent fewer inspections.
With most OSHA inspections done remotely during the pandemic, workplace hazards may have gone unidentified or unabated longer. According to the report, OSHA’s onsite presence during inspections has, “historically resulted in timely mitigation efforts for at least a portion of the hazards identified.” The OIG said that a 2017 report found that for approximately one third of OSHA-issued citations reviewed, employers abated the hazard during the inspection or within 24 hours of OSHA identifying the hazard.
The change in operations coupled with the increase in workplace complaints could have led to a very different OSHA Top 10 list than we are generally used to seeing. For instance, the overall number of violations listed in the top 10 list in fiscal year 2021 only amounts to 21,092—the lowest number in at least five years. While OH&S would love to report that this number has declined because workplaces are safer, it is more likely that less inspections took place in fiscal year 2021, leading to less violations reported.
Sydny Shepard is the Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine.
4. 5. 6. 7.
8. 9.
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Circle 16 on card.

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