Occupational Noise Exposure: OSHA Standards for Workplace Noise

Workplace hearing loss is a common problem but a frustrating one because it is entirely preventable. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created standards for workplace noise. With the proper knowledge, training, and protective equipment, employees in loud workplace environments should not have to suffer hearing injuries or permanent hearing loss. 

The Dangers of Loud Noise in the Workplace

Loud noise exposure is a leading cause of preventable hearing loss. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 20,000 cases of work-related hearing loss happen annually, with many of those resulting in permanent damage. This type of occupational hearing loss can happen suddenly due to exposure to incredibly loud but short sounds or manifest slowly over time. 

Exposure to loud noise can not only lead to hearing loss but also other damage like tinnitus. These work-related issues have been linked to other problems like reduced productivity, psychological stress, and higher workplace accident rates. 

A sound’s Frequency, Intensity, and Duration impact the ways it can harm hearing. Frequency is the number of sound waves per second, Intensity is the volume of the sound (measured in decibels), and Duration is how long you’re exposed to it. Generally, high-volume, high-pitched sounds with longer exposures are the riskiest for hearing damage. 

Reducing Employee Exposure to Workplace Noise

OSHA recommends employers investigate different ways to reduce employee exposure to excessive noise in the workplace. 

Engineering Controls

These involve replacing or modifying equipment to reduce the level of noise that reaches an employee’s ear. Examples include:

  • Choosing low-noise machinery or tools
  • Lubricating and maintaining equipment and machinery
  • Placing a barrier between workers and loud machinery
  • Isolating or enclosing the machinery

Administrative Controls

These involve making changes in the schedule or workplace to eliminate or reduce an employee’s exposure to harmful noise. Examples include:

  • Operating loud machinery during less crowded shifts, like overnight
  • Limiting the time a worker can spend close to a source of noise
  • Providing quiet areas where employees can escape noisy machinery
  • Creating more distance between workers and loud machinery

OSHA’s Standards for Workplace Noise

Understanding the dangers of noise exposure in the workplace, OSHA has created standards for occupational noise exposure. When average noise in the workplace reaches 85 dB over an 8-hour shift, OSHA requires that employers institute a hearing conservation program. This particular noise level triggers requirements for:

  • Training programs
  • Hearing protective equipment
  • Noise assessment and monitoring
  • Audiometric testing

Workplace Hearing Safety Training

OSHA standards require that employers of workers who are exposed to occupational noise receive annual training about hearing protection. Employees must also be informed of the health risks associated with noise exposure. 

Required Hearing Protective Equipment

Employees must use personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard their hearing from harmful sound waves when noise levels exceed 90 dB despite other controls in place. These devices don’t completely block out sound but rather reduce it to safer levels. Common types of hearing protection include:

  • Earmuffs — These are simple to use yet bulky sound-blocking headphones that can reduce noise by up to 30 dB. 
  • Earplugs — These items are inserted into the ear canal and can lower noise levels by up to 30 dB. However, they may irritate the ears. 
  • Canal Caps — These are earplugs attached to a headband intended for intermittent use and are less effective than other options. 

Employers must offer equipment that reduces employee exposure to 90 dB at a minimum. Employees should have PPE that is clean, fits properly, and is undamaged. 

Noise Assessment and Monitoring

When there is a possibility of occupational noise exposure, employers must conduct a workplace noise assessment and monitor noise levels. Someone who is trained to conduct a sound survey should perform this task using a dosimeter and sound level meter. Employers are also required to keep records of each employee’s noise exposure levels. 

Audiometric Testing

If a workplace has significant noise exposure, OSHA recommends free audiometric testing. These are hearing tests for workers, which create a baseline metric for an employee’s hearing. Annual tests can detect any changes that could be caused by occupational noise exposure. 

What If You’ve Suffered a Hearing Injury at Work?

If you’ve suffered a hearing injury at work that requires medical attention or restricts you from doing your job, you should understand that your employer is required to provide a safe workplace that protects you from these problems. Appropriate hearing injury protection and training are essential parts of workplace preparedness and effective safety management. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace hearing injuries, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2023

Each year, at the National Safety Council (NSC) Safety Congress & Expo, OSHA reveals its Top 10 most frequently cited standards for the fiscal year. While the finalized numbers aren’t released until the following Spring, this preliminary data gives a good overview of trends in workplace safety and where employers should be focusing their efforts to protect their workers. 

What Are OSHA Workplace Standards?

Created in 1970, the purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to ensure workers have a safe and healthy work environment. The agency accomplishes this by creating various standards for the employers it oversees. 

Most private-sector employers in the U.S. are subject to OSHA regulations. Standards for various things, like fall protection, working in confined spaces, and preventing trench cave-ins, are meant to eliminate or reduce accidents by identifying hazards and then removing them or dealing with them as safely as possible. 

Penalties for OSHA violations can be steep. If an employer violates a particular regulation, they can be fined or even face criminal prosecution. Also, violating OSHA standards can be used as strong evidence of negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death case after a workplace accident. 

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2023

Unfortunately, many of the same OSHA violations appear at the top of this list year after year. Here are the top 10 OSHA violations for 2023:

1. Fall Protection — General Requirements (7,271 citations)

Fall protection has topped this list of the most cited standards for the 13th year in a row. Some of the key fall protection standards OSHA mandates include putting guards over holes, using toe-boards and guardrails, and installing railings or safety nets. 

2. Hazard Communication (3,213 citations)

There were nearly 800 more Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard violations last year than in the previous year. Some examples of these standards include using proper Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and training workers who work with chemicals. 

3. Ladders (2,978 citations)

There were also more citations related to the use of ladders in 2023 than in the prior year. Roofing contractors were the top industry cited for violations such as having ladders loaded above their capacity and having hazards obstructing ladder rungs. 

4. Scaffolding (2,859 citations)

Scaffolding violations have risen up on the list from 2022, with masonry contractors getting the most attention. This standard has rules related to things like weight limits for scaffolding and how scaffolding must be installed and inspected. 

5. Powered Industrial Trucks (2,561 citations)

OSHA’s standard for powered industrial trucks regulates safety requirements for tractors, forklifts, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks, although not necessarily farm vehicles or road vehicles. 

6. Lockout/Tagout (2,554 citations)

Violations of OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard can be incredibly serious because they relate to how an employer controls hazardous energy. The procedures in the standard can prevent electrocution and other serious accidents, many of which can be fatal. 

7. Respiratory Protection (2,481 citations)

This was the third-highest violation on the list just last year. OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard helps protect workers from various environmental hazards. Many of these requirements direct employers to provide the appropriate respirators to workers and training on how to properly use the equipment. 

8. Fall Protection — Training Requirements (2,112 citations)

In addition to having the number one spot for fall protection violations, employers are also being cited for failing to adhere to OSHA’s Fall Protection Training Requirements, which includes initial training and retraining of workers as well as keeping written records of certification. 

9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment — Eye and Face Protection (2,074 citations)

OSHA’s Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment standard mandates that employers provide suitable protection for workers to protect them from various workplace hazards. Violations of this standard relate to a lack of eye and face protection to protect from chemicals, gases, or flying particles. 

10. Machine Guarding (1,644 citations)

Not having proper guards on machinery can lead to serious accidents and injuries. Employers are cited for failing to adhere to OSHA’s Machine Guarding standards if the guards on machinery are removed or altered, posing a danger to workers. 

Learn More About OSHA Standards and Workers’ Protections

OSHA standards weren’t created to make things more difficult for employers but rather to protect the safety and health of employees. Without them, the rate of workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths would be even higher. 

Most workers in the U.S. receive protection from OSHA standards. If you’ve been injured at work and would like to learn more about these standards and workers’ protections, an OSHA Injury Attorney can help. 

OSHA Worker Safety for Hurricane Cleanup and Recovery

Extreme weather events are not only costly for homeowners and businesses, they also present an ongoing challenge for cleanup crews. Insurance companies and government agencies send disaster recovery crews into areas hit by hurricanes and major floods. Local businesses also contract out for this type of work, which can be profitable but also incredibly hazardous. 

Disaster recovery cleanup after a hurricane or flood is challenging and dangerous. Rising water levels disrupt sewage disposal systems, high winds create electrical hazards, and debris can be found everywhere. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have issued some specific guidelines for employers who have workers assigned to hurricane and flood cleanup jobs. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Hazards like contaminated water, toxic fumes, and electricity aren’t always evident to workers in hurricane and flood cleanup situations. That’s one of the reasons why OSHA released a Disaster Recovery and Cleanup PPE Matrix to help employees and employers quickly identify potential hazards and select the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard against dangers. Here are just a few of those guidelines:

  • Normal cleanup activities — Workers should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, work gloves, steel toe boots, and a high-visibility garment. 
  • Working in wet conditions — Workers should wear a hard hat, safety goggles, rubber or latex gloves, waterproof boots, an impervious body suit, and a high-visibility garment. 
  • Working over or near water — Workers should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, work gloves, and steel-toe boots and have a PFD or life ring. 
  • Working at heights over 6 feet — Workers should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, work gloves, steel toe boots, and a high visibility garment, and must have fall protection. 
  • Working with chainsaws — Workers should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, face shield, hearing protection, work gloves, chaps, steel toe boots, and a high visibility garment. 

One common requirement, no matter what the condition, is that all workers in these situations wear a hi-visibility garment and a hard hat. 

Respiratory Protection

In addition to wearing proper, employers are required to assess the specific conditions at a work site to determine if any respiratory protection may be necessary to protect workers from contaminants. When dust or other particulates are present, an N-95 regular may be appropriate. Where mold may be present, workers must use an approved regulator and follow OSHA’s guidelines on Mold Standards during Disaster Cleanup for additional guidance. 

If asbestos could be present in the area being addressed, OSHA’s Asbestos standard should be followed. When there is the possibility of chemical contaminants in the area, respirators must have the correct filters or cartridges to protect workers from the specific chemicals. 

Not every type of respirator works for every hazard. For example, common respirators won’t protect workers from the carbon monoxide released by generators often used during disaster cleanup. Employees should be trained in the different types of respirators and their limitations. 

Other Hurricane and Flood Worker Protections

Disaster recovery workers end up in a lot of dangerous situations. Fortunately, many accidents and injuries are preventable when employers and their workers follow the proper procedures. Some other safety standards that apply to this work include:

  • Heavy Lifting — Water-logged materials can become incredibly heavy, which can lead to muscle strains and back injuries. Workers should use caution when doing these activities. 
  • Electrical Safety — Operating near downed power lines and using electrical equipment near standing water creates serious hazards. Before engaging in cleanup, workers must assess these potential dangers. 
  • Fall Protection — Falling from heights is a top cause of work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA has specific standards related to fall protection, which also apply to disaster cleanup operations. 
  • Extreme Heat and Cold — If hot or cold weather is a factor, OSHA has created guidelines for both to teach workers how to safely operate in extreme weather conditions. 
  • Sanitation and Hygiene — The risk of contracting various diseases and illnesses from flood and hurricane-affected areas is severe. OSHA has guidelines related to hygiene. 

Learn More About Disaster Recovery and Cleanup Safety for Workers

OSHA’s standards were created to protect workers’ safety and health, no matter what the circumstances. Without these valuable protections, even in the wake of a hurricane or major flood, there could be more accidents, injuries, and deaths than those already experienced. 

Most U.S. employers are subject to OSHA standards, meaning workers have the right to expect certain protections while on the job. If you’ve been injured while doing disaster recovery work and would like more information about your rights and protections, OSHA Injury Attorney can help. 

5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe in a Trench

If you work in or around trenches, you have reason to be concerned for your safety. Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it would enhance oversight and enforcement of safety regulations in response to an “alarming rise” in trenching fatalities. Here’s what you need to know about trench hazards and five things you can do to stay safe in a trench.

What Are Trenches and Excavation on Worksites?

Before getting into how to stay safe in one, what exactly is considered a trench? According to OSHA, a trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide. Trenches are also no wider than 15 feet.

Excavations are considered to be man-made trenches, cavities, depressions, or cuts in the ground, accomplished by removing earth. Trenches are used for a variety of purposes, including adding utilities to property and building roads or other infrastructure.

Trench Collapses Can Be Serious and Deadly

It’s not surprising that OSHA has made trench safety one of its top priorities. The greatest risk to workers’ lives around trenches revolves around trench collapses and cave-ins. According to OSHA’s latest announcement, 22 workers died in trench collapses in the first half of 2022 alone. This surpassed the 15 fatalities that occurred in all of the prior year.

OSHA has increased inspections on job sites with trenches. It levies fines against employers that don’t adhere to regulations. The agency is also recommending criminal referrals for some trenching-related incidents.

5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe in a Trench

Construction projects often move dirt around from place to place, and many require the use of trenches. These pose a variety of risks, including cave-ins, water accumulation, falling objects, and damaged underground utilities.

OSHA recommends a combination of safe work practices, protective equipment, and engineering controls to minimize the hazards associated with trenches. Here are five things you should know to stay safe in a trench.

1. Ensure Safe Entry and Exit

Getting in and out of a trench poses its own hazards. And it’s important that workers have a clear way to exit in case of emergencies. All trenches should be cleared of debris, both inside and around the trench. The means of egress must be provided when a trench is at least four feet deep and must not require more than 25 feet of travel.

2. Have Trench Cave-in Protection

Protective systems must be installed in trenches to prevent collapse. OSHA outlines several types, including shoring, benching, and sloping. You may need to use one or several of these systems depending on the size and depth of your trench. In addition, it’s vital that the cave-in protection is installed correctly and remains well-maintained to protect workers from potential hazards.

3. Keep Materials Away from Trench Edges

It’s critical to keep the materials away from the trench edges. Debris and equipment can impede the trench’s ventilation system, creating a hazardous situation for workers. Debris and equipment can also fall into a trench and land on workers. Finally, placing heavy equipment near the edge of a trench can weaken the walls and increase the odds of collapse.

4. Be Aware of Hazards Like Standing Water

Anyone who works around trenches should have proper workplace safety training specific to these hazards. This training should include things like the risk of trench collapse and how to prevent it. Weather conditions can play a large role in trench safety. For example, heavy rain can cause dangerous flooding in a trench or the collapse of walls.

5. Only Enter Trenches After Required Inspections

Conditions on a job site can change overnight or in a matter of just a few hours. According to OSHA, trenches must be inspected daily to prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

The inspection must take place by a “competent person” who is familiar with proper trench design and safety standards. Once a daily inspection is complete, workers can enter the trench to begin work.

What If You’ve Been Injured in a Trench?

If you’ve been injured in a trench on a construction site or suffered a similar workplace injury, it’s important to understand that your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe and secure workplace that protects you from these types of accidents. Appropriate safety measures and training are part of OSHA guidelines and essential components of workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from trench injuries and asserting your rights, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly.

OSHA Standards for Truck Drivers

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly govern and regulate the trucking industry on highways and public roads, another significant portion of the trucking industry operates on workplace property. This might include construction sites, seaports and airports, warehouses, and other workplaces that involve the loading, unloading, and movement of items for business purposes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which regulates and enforces workplace safety and health rules and regulations, oversees a majority of truckling-related activity occurring on workplace property. Because this part of the trucking industry doesn’t take place on public roadways, it isn’t necessarily regulated by the FMCA or DOT.

OSHA Standards Apply to Non-Driving Operations

OSHA won’t oversee activities taking place on public roadways. But it does oversee construction site heavy truck operations as well as truck loading and unloading on an employer’s premises. That’s enough to ensure worker safety and health in quite a few dangerous situations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction work and warehouses are considered some of the most hazardous workplace environments regarding worker injury rates and deaths. In many industries, truck drivers will spend a significant amount of time on a job site dropping off or collecting loads. Some even work exclusively on an employer’s premises, such as drivers on a large property or heavy machinery operators.

OSHA Regulations That Apply to the Trucking Industry

Some of the most common activities OSHA regulates for truck drivers include the following:

  • Ensuring every workplace is hygienic and safe
  • Ensuring workers follow all safety guidelines when loading and unloading trucks
  • Determining what kinds of straps, cords, and ropes can be used to secure cargo
  • Regulating how hazardous materials are labeled or marked
  • Establishing procedures for the handling of hazardous materials
  • Dictating what types of facilities and which workers can handle toxic materials
  • Determining how lumber and grains are transported
  • Inspecting first aid and fire safety provisions present on a job site

OSHA also protects “whistleblowers,” or workers who report unsafe working conditions. The agency provides various methods for reporting workplace hazards and work-related accidents. The organization also maintains a register of employer citations and ensures all eligible organizations that employ workers follow established guidelines for keeping workers safe.

If there is an OSHA violation involving a truck driver on an employer’s premises, it can involve any number of regulations. Some of the most common ones include:

Truck Operating Procedures

OSHA created a publication listing “Safety Practices Once Tractor Trailer Drivers Arrive at a Destination.” When parking, drivers are instructed to:

  • Park close to the receiving door and on level ground
  • Set and test brakes
  • Place wheel chocks between the trailer’s tandem wheels

When backing up, truck drivers are advised to:

  • Get Out and Look (GOAL)
  • Use backup alarms, horns, and flashers
  • Check all mirrors
  • Roll down windows to hear
  • Use a spotter
  • Know the vehicle’s blind spots
  • Proceed slowly

When uncoupling and coupling, truck drivers are instructed to:

  • Have sufficient training for the procedures
  • Wear visible bright clothing
  • Ensure stable footing for connections and adjustments
  • Perform a tug test before proceeding
  • Check for other vehicle traffic in the area

Sharing Handling Information

OSHA has created specific guidelines for the handling, loading, unloading, and securing of non-hazardous, hazardous, or toxic materials. A trucking company must provide this information to workers and train them on safe workplace practices. Unfortunately, many companies that deal with the movement of materials on a job site don’t take the proper safety precautions or fail to train their workers properly.

Respiratory Protection

Warehouses, construction businesses, and trucking companies must provide workers with respirators and masks if they will be handling hazardous or toxic materials. Further, workers should be trained in how to wear these items correctly and respond to workplace emergencies.

OSHA Provides Protection for Workers in the Trucking Industry

Where FMCSA and DOT regulations end, OSHA regulations begin in protecting the safety and health of trucking industry workers and anyone on a job site working near large trucks. OSHA guidelines were established to make trucking safer, whether or not the vehicle is moving down the highway.

Dangerous and deadly accidents can happen while loading, unloading, moving, or securing materials at the workplace. Unfortunately, some employers fail to adhere to OSHA regulations, resulting in serious accidents, injuries, and even death.

If heavy items aren’t properly secured, they can destabilize a vehicle or become loose and fall off a trailer. Items being transported can catch fire, explode, or cause other injuries.

Have You Been Injured Working in the Trucking Industry?

If you or a loved one have been hurt while working as a truck driver on an employer’s premises, it is possible that OSHA regulations were not being followed. Most U.S. employers are subject to OSHA’s standards and ignoring them can lead to disastrous results for workers and their loved ones. If you’d like to learn more about OSHA’s safety guidelines for truck drivers and your rights after an accident, OSHA Injury Attorney can help.

 

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are a leading cause of workplace injury and can lead to pain, injury, and further complications. While musculoskeletal disorders can occur due to activities outside of work, workplace activities can also cause or contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. Here’s a brief overview of workplace musculoskeletal disorders and how you can learn more information:

Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders

Healthline describes musculoskeletal disorders as conditions that affect the bones, joints, and muscles. Examples of common musculoskeletal disorders include:

  • Tendinitis
  • Bone fractures
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis 

These disorders, and related pain, can impact any area of the musculoskeletal system, including the feet, hands, knees, wrists, back, legs, shoulders, and neck. There is a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders depending on your age, occupation, lifestyle, family history, and activity level. 

In addition to musculoskeletal disorders, there’s also musculoskeletal pain. This is pain that impacts the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. This type of pain can be acute, which means that it can set on suddenly and be severe. The pain can also be chronic, which means that it’s long-lasting, and can be severe or dull. 

Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by a musculoskeletal disorder, such as a bone fracture. It may also be caused by things like poor posture or overuse of a part of the body. 

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of injury and lead to billions of dollars in costs each year in the form of workers’ compensation claims and lost productivity. This is confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reports that musculoskeletal disorders are associated with higher employer costs due to lost employee productivity, increased healthcare costs, employee disability, absenteeism, and higher workers’ compensation costs. It is estimated that the economic burden of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is up to $54 billion annually. 

The CDC defines work-related musculoskeletal disorders as conditions in which:

  • The work environment or the performance of the work being performed contributes significantly to the musculoskeletal condition; or/and
  • The musculoskeletal disorder gets worse or extends longer due to the work condition. 

Other Names for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

It’s important to know that there are other names for work-related musculoskeletal disorders. These include:

  • Cumulative trauma disorders
  • Soft tissues disorders
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Overuse syndrome
  • Repetitive motion injuries

Symptoms of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a musculoskeletal disorder, it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms can occur in stages and might start with aching and tiredness. Usually, these symptoms disappear when the worker stops performing the activity in question. 

When the condition is more advanced, feelings of fatigue or pain may persist after the work ceases; for example, the worker may experience pain or fatigue when they are home after work and resting during the evening. In the later stages of a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, the feelings of pain and weakness will persist when the worker is at rest, prohibiting their ability to perform even light duties. 

What to Do if You Have a Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder

If you are experiencing pain or weakness in the tendons, bones, joints, or muscles, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the musculoskeletal disorder is work-related, you may qualify for workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance pays for 100 percent of your medical costs and a portion of your lost wages if you are unable to work due to a work-related injury.

In order to qualify for workers’ compensation, it’s important that you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible and follow all instructions related to reporting and care, including seeing a doctor who’s covered through your workers’ compensation insurance provider. 

How to Learn More About Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

In addition to your doctor, there are a variety of online resources that can help you to learn more about work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including:

If you suspect that your musculoskeletal disorder is work-related, it can also be helpful to talk to a lawyer about your rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), as well as your rights to workers’ compensation insurance. 

Remember, musculoskeletal disorders are progressive, which means that they can get worse with time and continued use of the affected area. Seeing a doctor at the first signs of weakness or pain is recommended. 

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Dock Workers

Loading docks are one of the foundations of commerce in this country, supporting much of the freight network. When products come into this country or leave it via ship, laborers have to do the heavy work of inspecting and transferring items. This often involves working around heavy machinery, large trucks and ships, dangerous chemicals, and a lot of moving parts. 

Dock work is clearly a hazardous activity. One wrong move or unsafe working conditions can lead to serious accidents and injuries. Even worse, dock workers can lose their lives in tragic accidents through no fault of their own. 

Elevated Risks for Workers on Docks

According to OSHA, employees working on docks face a higher rate of injury than the average across all industries. Particularly in larger operations, where goods are constantly moving in and out, there might be temporary workers or visiting drivers who are unaware of the procedures or safety rules, creating an elevated hazard situation. 

An area of serious concern is tractor-trailer coupling and uncoupling, where parking brakes may not be applied, or workers are exposed when they are around heavy machinery. Some of the most common loading dock hazards include:

  • Vehicle Creep — Vehicles can move away from the loading bay, widening the gap between the dock platform and the loader.  
  • Drive-Away — A trailer or vehicle moves away from the loading bay too early, causing goods to fall, possibly on a worker. 
  • Load Roll-Away — People working on or near a vehicle can be injured by goods falling after an unsecured load rolls away or out of a vehicle. 
  • Trailer Tip — A trailer tips forward due to a heavy or unbalanced load after being uncoupled from a tractor. 
  • Water Ingress — Water entering a dock area can create a slip hazard for equipment and workers. 

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Dock Workers

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recognizes the seriousness of working around docks. Many of its general guidelines also apply to dock workers. OSHA has created some specific safety guidelines for this type of work. If you are a dock worker, here are some of the OSHA safety guidelines meant to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards.  

Forklift Safety

It’s too simple to misjudge the distances from a forklift to the edge of a loading dock. Visual guides, such as yellow lines along the edge of the dock, can prevent forklifts from falling off of elevated surfaces. 

OSHA also recommends placing protective barriers, such as bars or chains, on loading docks to prevent forklifts from tipping over the edge. OSHA also recommends that forklifts only be driven onto flatbed trailers when there is no distance or height gap. 

Dock Barriers

If you are going to install barriers on your dock, OSHA recommends using bars over chains. Bars are stronger and less likely to be moved by workers or machinery than chains. According to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.28(b)(1)(i), barriers are required when there is a drop of four feet or more on a dock. 

Dock Fall Protection

OSHA 1910.28 standards govern the use of fall protection measures on docks, such as safety nets, guardrail systems, and personal fall protection systems. If a worker could fall four or more feet from an exposed or open dock door or opening, these standards apply. For dock platforms under four feet, OSHA still recommends there be some type of visual barrier in order to create safeguards for workers. 

Dock Trailer Safety

When workers are loading and unloading vehicles or trailers on a dock, there must be adequate ventilation to prevent excessive carbon monoxide exposure. If inhaled over prolonged periods, the poisonous gas can be fatal. 

Dock Cleanliness

Workers in dock environments must be trained in keeping the areas clean and tidy. When things are out of place, or areas get cluttered, this can create serious safety hazards. 

Dock Safety Training

Dockworkers should receive appropriate training on working with equipment on docks and various OSHA safety standards. Part of the training should include the provision and proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as hard hats, eye and face protection, foot protection, and hearing protection. 

Have You Been Injured While Working on a Dock?

If you or a loved one has been injured while working on a dock, there’s a good chance OSHA’s safety guidelines were not being followed. These standards were developed to protect the health and safety of workers. Ignoring them can lead to serious accidents and even deaths. 

Most U.S. employers, including those offering freight and dock work, are subject to OSHA’s standards. If you’d like to learn more about OSHA’s safety guidelines and your rights after an accident, OSHA Injury Attorney can help. 

Bucket Truck Safety – OSHA Guidelines on Staying Safe In and Around Bucket Trucks

Vehicles known as “bucket trucks” are among the most useful and versatile on worksites. When operated correctly, they give workers a safe platform to perform elevated tasks. Because a bucket lift is stable, workers can use both arms to perform work, resulting in improved efficiency. That’s why you’ll see these types of trucks used by various workers, from linemen to tree trimmers to painters. 

While a bucket truck is relatively simple to operate, these machines present a unique set of challenges and hazards. Fortunately, OSHA provides guidelines for staying safe in and around bucket trucks. 

What is a Bucket Truck or Aerial Lift?

Bucket trucks are trucks with an aerial lift attached. Also called cherry pickers, these machines are excellent tools used in a variety of industries to get workers to hard-to-reach areas. They provide a stable and safe work platform when used properly. 

Hazards Associated with Bucket Trucks

Accidents are bound to happen on the job. But working with and around bucket trucks is inherently dangerous work. Some of the main hazards associated with bucket trucks include:

  • Electrocution — Workers can become electrocuted due to accidental contact with energized wires. 
  • Overturning — A truck that isn’t parked or positioned properly is at risk of overturning. 
  • Entanglement — Power lines, tree limbs, and other overhead items can cause entanglement issues with a bucket truck and lead to injuries. 
  • Falls — Employees not provided with proper training or fall protection have a higher risk of falls from bucket trucks. 
  • Collisions — Traffic on busy roads or struck-against hazards from falling objects can cause serious injuries while using bucket trucks. 

Typical injuries when working from bucket trucks include sprains, strains, broken bones, burns, lacerations, electrocution, and even death from being struck by objects or falls. If businesses don’t take the time to be fully aware of hazards and create a strong workplace safety plan, bucket truck accidents are more likely to occur. 

OSHA Safety Guidelines for Working Around Bucket Trucks

Bucket trucks require specialized training to operate to ensure the safety of workers and anyone in the area. OSHA provides an outline for bucket truck safety, which falls under the broader umbrella of aerial lift safety. Only authorized and trained workers should operate or use a bucket truck. Some of the specifics of bucket truck safety include:

Pre-Work Inspections and Safety Check

Before any work begins, there should be a pre-use safety check that includes:

  • Review equipment maintenance records
  • Check wheels, tires, and engine
  • Look for any deteriorating or missing part
  • Test all ground controls before starting work
  • Confirm that railing and door latches are in working order

Work Area Inspection

The area around the bucket truck must also be inspected, including:

  • Check the area for excessive slopes, drop-offs, debris, soft spots, and holes
  • Check the area for trees, overhead power lines, and building overhangs
  • Make sure the bucket and all equipment is secured before positioning the truck

Fall Protection

While falls from bucket trucks are relatively rare, they can happen. A more common scenario is where a worker gets knocked out of the bucket when another object or vehicle collides with the equipment. 

According to OSHA’s rule of thumb, all workers should be wearing personal fall protection if they are going to be six feet or more off the ground. The question for employers will be what type of fall protection will be used, such as a full-body harness or body belt. 

Personal Protective Equipment

All workers should be provided with the appropriate personal protected equipment, including:

  • Hard hats for workers
  • Appropriate gloves for the job
  • Face shields or safety glasses for workers
  • Appropriate fall arrest systems for bucket workers

Bucket Truck and Aerial Lift Operation

When operating a bucket truck, the proper procedures include:

  • Set brakes and use wheel chocks, even if working on a level surface
  • Establish an appropriate and safe work zone if working in a high-traffic area
  • Secure bucket and use safety chain before operation
  • Avoid leaning over the bucket railing or climbing on tool brackets
  • Don’t exceed the manufacturer’s load capacity
  • Never move the truck with a worker in the bucket

Emergency Escape

If something goes wrong, bucket truck workers are trained on safe escape methods:

  • Have auxiliary power available
  • Have a controlled descent rope or escape ladder

Learn More About Protecting Yourself from Bucket Truck Injuries

Whether you work as a power lineman, in a construction trade, or in some other industry, your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace that protects you from being injured while working around bucket trucks. Having appropriate training on the use of aerial devices and access to fall protection is a critical part of effective safety management and workplace preparedness. To learn more about protecting yourself from bucket truck injuries, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

OSHA Standards for Fall Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates many areas of the workplace because of the various hazards that exist, threatening the health and safety of workers and innocent bystanders. One area that receives strict regulation by the agency is fall protection. OSHA requires employers, contractors, subcontractors, and premises owners to adhere to specific safety measures at various heights depending on the industry and circumstances.

Why Fall Protection is Heavily Regulated by OSHA

After traffic crashes, falls are the leading cause of unintentional deaths worldwide, resulting in roughly 684,000 lost lives annually. In the U.S. alone, falls are number one among OSHA’s “Fatal Four” leading causes of fatalities in the workplace, accounting for roughly 36% of workplace deaths each year.

Even though workplace accidents and deaths have declined over the years, workers are still injured or lose their lives due to serious hazards. Fall accidents take place due to unprotected holes or sides, improperly constructed surfaces, and workers who have fallen off of scaffoldings, ladders, roofs, and other heights. OSHA fall protection requirements would safeguard against many of these accidents.

OSHA Standards for Fall Protection

OSHA has established general fall safety standards that apply to all industries and employers. The industry has also created a separate set of standards that apply to the construction and maritime industries. The rules are incredibly specific. The general requirements for fall safety include:

  • Railings must be placed around ladder ways and stairways.
  • Chute openings or hatchways must either be sealed by a hinged cover or have a removable railing system.
  • Working platforms must have proper fall safety protection measures and be safely accessible.
  • If a fall arrest system is used, it must be installed by qualified personnel and only used by employees who have been properly trained in its use.
  • Staging must meet OSHA guidelines.
  • Safety nets must meet OSHA guidelines.

What is Considered a “Height” According to OSHA?

The definition of a height by OSHA varies according to your industry. In a general workplace industry, fall safety standards must be in place for heights over 4 feet. In maritime industries, they must be in place for heights over 5 feet. And, in construction industries, there is a “6-foot rule.”

What is a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS)?

A Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) refers to a system used to stop (arrest) an employee’s fall from a working or walking surface. It consists of a body harness, anchor, and connector. Anchors can be temporary or permanent, but temporary anchors should only be used in areas where workers don’t travel often. Other rules for anchors include:

  • Anchors should be capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs. per employee attached or be designed, used, and installed according to OSHA regulations;
  • Anchors must be independent of any systems used to support platforms; and
  • Anchors must be used under the supervision and direction of a qualified person.

OSHA rules that apply to connectors and PFAS system include:

  • Connectors must be made of pressed, formed, or drop forged steel or materials of equivalent strength;
  • A PFAS system must limit the distance an employee travels to 3.5 feet and bring them to a complete stop;
  • A PFAS system should not make contact with the employee’s chin or neck area; and
  • A PFAS system must have a limited maximum arresting force on the worker of 1,800 lbs.

Fall Protection in the Construction Industry

It’s not surprising that falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. OSHA has developed a specific set of fall protection standards that apply to this industry. OSHA’s Construction Fall Protection Standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M provides a list of ways that employers and contractors can protect workers from hazards. Four common areas where construction work is most dangerous include:

  • Unprotected edges and sides – When heights are six feet or greater, OSHA asks that employers implement a guardrail system, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems.
  • Holes – Another common hazard, OSHA asks employers to install a cover over the hole, erect a guardrail around it, and/or use a personal fall arrest system.
  • Roof work – One of the most common hazards on construction job sites, OSHA recommends using a combination of warning lines, safety monitoring systems, guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems.
  • Overhand bricklaying and related work – Depending on the circumstances (heights), employers can implement guardrail systems, safety nets, controlled access zones, and personal fall arrest systems.

Learn More About Protecting Yourself from Falls in the Workplace

Whether you work in construction, as a power lineman, or in some other industry, your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace that protects you from being injured in a fall. Having appropriate fall protection and training on the use of safety measures is a vital part of workplace preparedness and effective safety management. To learn more about protecting yourself from falls in the workplace, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly.

The Top 10 OSHA Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

In October 2021, OSHA released its preliminary data for its top 10 most-cited standards for fiscal year 2021. The data includes violations the agency issued between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. The preliminary list was presented at the 2021 NSC Safety Congress and Expo, and the final results will be released in the coming months.

For the 11th straight year, Fall Protection tops the list. In truth, not much on this list has changed, although Hazard Communication moved to number five from number two last year.

Although it would be tempting to give the annual list a casual glance and move on with business as usual, OSHA and thousands of injured workers would prefer that employers did a bit more. A deeper dive into these OSHA standards could give many employers the information and tools they need to implement better workplace safety programs and give workers the protection they need and deserve.

Here are the Top 10 OSHA Safety Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations

For more than a decade, Fall Protection has topped this list as the most cited OSHA violation. OSHA created this particular standard to prevent falls, which, in the construction industry alone, account for roughly 40% of all workplace deaths.

To prevent fall injuries and deaths, it’s essential that employers supply workers with safety net systems, hole covers, guardrails, warning signs, and personal fall arrest systems. According to OSHA, these items must be in place when heights are six feet or more on construction sites and four feet or more in general industries. In addition, employees must be adequately trained on the proper use of all fall protection measures.

  1. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations

OSHA’s standard for Respiratory Protection is intended to safeguard workers from respiratory hazards in the workplace. The standard covers every aspect of worker protection, including selection, fit testing, procedures, evaluation, training, use, cleaning, and maintenance of equipment. Areas most often cited by OSHA are failure to establish a Respiratory Protection program, failure to identify workplace hazards, and lack of medical evaluations or proper equipment.

  1. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations

Working with ladders can be dangerous, and accidents involving them can lead to serious injuries. OSHA regulates the use, repair, and alteration of ladders on a job site. The most frequent areas of the OSHA Ladder Safety Standard that are cited include using ladders unsafely, using broken ladders, and not extending ladders far enough over an upper landing surface.

  1. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations

Scaffolding is commonly used on construction sites, and its improper use can be dangerous and deadly. OSHA most commonly cites violations of this standard that include failure to use fall protection and the use of cross braces for access.

  1. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations

The Hazard Communication Standard refers to the handling of chemical hazards in the workplace. The most commonly cited violations of this hazard include failure to implement a hazcom program, lack of training, and failure to maintain Safety Data Sheets.

  1. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations

A Lockout/Tagout Standard applies to workers who repair, service, or maintain machinery or equipment. The areas of this standard cited most frequently for violations include training, inspections, general procedures, and an energy control program.

  1. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations

OSHA requires that employers not only have fall protection in place but that employees also understand how to use it. Employers are frequently cited for a failure to train employees on these workplace safety measures.

  1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations

About 90%% of workplace eye injuries could be prevented through the use of proper eye and face protection. Violations of this OSHA standard include the failure to use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lack of training and workplace standards.

  1. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations

This OSHA standard governs the design, use, maintenance, and fire protection of powered industrial trucks like tractors, fork trucks, and motorized hand trucks. Lack of maintenance, training, or poor signage are leading causes of violations.

  1. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations

Any machine process or part that could cause injury must be safeguarded. OSHA issues citations when guards are removed, altered, or not repaired, creating a serious workplace hazard.

In addition to the possibility that violating any of these OSHA standards could result in accidents, injuries, and loss of life, these citations come with hefty fines. In the construction industry alone, OSHA issued 16,749 citations in FY2021, resulting in $58,691,406 in fines.

OSHA standards aren’t in place to make the job of construction companies or contractors harder or more costly. They exist to protect the health and safety of workers. Workplace injuries and deaths are equally tragic and cost the industry millions each year.

If your employer is subject to OSHA regulations (most are), you have rights should you become injured or sick through the course of your employment. If you’ve been injured at work and would like more information about how to protect your rights, OSHA Injury Attorney can help.