A rise in fatality inspections in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska has OSHA calling on employers to rethink their approaches to worker safety.
The agency recently launched its Safe and Sound Campaign to make companies more aware of the services it offers as well as address some common hazards in the region that have led to fatalities including confined space and struck by incidents.
"Workplace safety and health incidents hurt workers and their families, and they cost businesses' capital better invested in growing their business and creating jobs," said Kim Stille, OSHA's Regional Administrator in Kansas City in a statement. "By identifying and controlling job-related hazards that can lead to injuries and illnesses, businesses can improve their safety and health programs, save money and improve competitiveness."
OSHA conducted 12 fatality inspections in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska since Oct. 1, 2016, up from seven for the same period of Oct. 1, 2015 through Feb. 1, 2016, and found a significant increase in fatalities associated with confined space entry and trenching and excavating.
In addition, fatalities involving workers being struck by motor vehicles doubled from two to four persons for the same time period.
The message of the campaign, OSHA said, is that compliance assistance, tips, consultation for small- and medium-sized businesses, educational materials, training and other information is available to employers at no charge.
"With just a phone call, companies can contact OSHA for assistance in achieving safety compliance," Stille said. "Working together with businesses, unions, and employees, we can reduce these sobering statistics and implement and sustain workplace safety and health programs that can help employees avoid preventable injuries and deaths."
There are three core elements to an effective health and safety program, OSHA indicated:
- Management leadership. Top management commits to establishing, maintaining and improving the program continually, and provides any necessary resources.
- Worker participation. Employers invite workers to identify solutions. Improved worker engagement can lead to better productivity, higher job satisfaction and worker retention - lowering turnover and recruitment costs.
- A systematic "find and fix" approach. Employers and workers examine their workplaces, proactively and routinely, to identify and address hazards before they can cause injury or illness.
Practical advice is available at OSHA's "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs" page as well.
"We don't want businesses, especially small ones, to believe they cannot afford to protect their workers," Stille said. "OSHA provides good safety information and will work with employers to help them comply with safety and health standards."
Lastly, each state has its own On-site Consultation Program. This free and confidential safety and health consultation program is targeted toward smaller businesses. Employers can find out about potential hazards at their workplace, improve programs already in place and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. More information is available at OSHA's website, www.osha.gov/consultation.