David Letterman’s got nothing on OSHA’s Top 10

Top 10 lists have been a favorite of late-night comedians for years, but no one did them better than David Letterman. If you enter “David Letterman Top 10 lists,” into Google, you’ll find dozens of websites, news articles and YouTube videos detailing years of Letterman’s top 10s. His lists always seemed to keep audiences in stitches.

It might seem counter-intuitive then, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a Top 10 list of its own. But unlike Letterman’s, OSHA’s list is not intended to make us laugh. Their list is intended to highlight the issues for which OSHA most frequently cited employers in the past year. It therefore serves as a sobering reminder that workplace safety is a constant concern.

OSHA’s list could be considerably shorter – and perhaps even non-existent – if employers and facility managers better understood how to deal with workplace safety, or if they stopped figuratively closing their eyes and hoping nothing bad will happen. But bad things do happen, and every company and facility manager has a responsibility – in fact an obligation – to do everything possible to prevent workplace accidents. The stakes can be quite high: Loss of life, loss of limbs or bodily functions, huge liability claims and the loss of your own job are very real possibilities.

So, let’s take a quick look at OSHA’s top ten list for 2015, but with a specific eye toward the areas in which Mitchell & Lindsey specializes. Here is the list:

1. Fall Protection
2. Hazard Communication
3. Scaffolding
4. Respiratory Protection
5. Lockout/Tagout
6. Powered Industrial Trucks
7. Ladders
8. Electrical, Wiring Methods
9. Machine Guarding
10. Electrical, General Requirements

At Mitchell & Lindsey, we specialize in electrical safety in the workplace – primarily the prevention of arc flash and other electrical hazards, so while all 10 categories are important, we’ll focus on items 5, 8, and 10 on the list:

#5, Lockout/Tagout: Lockout/Tagout relates to protecting machines and equipment from unexpected energization or start up, or the release of stored energy – any of which could harm employees – during servicing and maintenance. A review of OSHA’s news releases for 2015 shows that failure to lockout/tagout equipment and machinery resulted in loss of life, loss of limbs, and large fines against employers.

#8, Electrical, Wiring Methods: This category relates to employers’ failure to implement adequate electrical wiring and other electrical safeguards. Many of these violations are due to a lack of understanding the associated danger of poor or noncompliant installations and the classification of equipment. These types of electrical violations are normally easily identified during an audit and therefore should become a priority when considering safety audit protocols within your program.

#10, Electrical: The last item in the Top 10 involves employers who have failed to adequately provide for or install electrical wiring and other equipment in a manner that safeguards people who may come into contact with the equipment. This includes everything from properly installing electrical equipment to ensuring that it is properly labeled.

The fact that these categories rank so highly is a clear indication that many employers still don’t understand – or are too casual about – the need to implement common sense safety processes and procedures. In many cases, we find that facility managers are just too busy to address these issues.

That’s where we can help: Mitchell & Lindsey specializes in electrical safety, testing, engineering and drawings, including facility inspections to ensure that government standards for safety are met. We work nationwide, with hospitals, manufacturing facilities and other industrial facilities. Many of the solutions we offer aren’t particularly expensive, but even the most expensive solutions are a great investment compared to the potential loss of a life or limb and the financial liability of ignoring or circumventing these requirements.

Mitchell and Lindsey can help ensure that your processes, procedures and equipment comply with all applicable regulations and best practices. We specialize in the development and implementation of electrical safety programs. Give us a call at (502) 682-8491 to learn more about our services.

See our post about last year’s OSHA Top 10…