Written by Madeline Demo and Carla Bachunas, CHMM who work for BBJ Group
Tomorrow is Workers Memorial Day, which falls on the anniversary of the effective date of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opening its doors in 1971. This year, April 28 marks both Workers Memorial Day and 50 years of OSHA’s commitment to ensuring safe and healthful conditions for workers.
This year, OSHA “recognize(d) that, more than a year into the pandemic, every day essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were sickened or died as a result of just going to work - for simply doing what they had to do to support their families ... (we) remember and honor every worker who has lost their life to largely preventable fatal injuries and illnesses, and we commit ourselves to fighting to make sure that others do not suffer the same terrible fate.”
In honor of this day, BBJ Group pays respect to and recognizes all impacted by workplace injury, illness, and death. We recognize that workplace injury, illness, and death can expose not only workers but their families, employers, and workplaces to significant social and financial impacts. To our clients and stakeholders who have lost employees and/or loved ones due to workplace injuries, our thoughts are with you. We will continue to strive to support your Health and Safety needs, and help you reduce employee exposures to occupational health hazards in the years ahead.
Using Lessons from the Past to Build the Future
Although looking back is only one piece to future successes, we can use the past to inform the future. In 2020, OSHA continued to work towards keeping workers safer in the workplace. OSHA issued more than 24,000 violations during their 2020 FY (Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020). The Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for 2020 remained the same as in 2018 and 2019, with only slight variation in rank. In General Industry, including manufacturing, the most frequently cited standards in 2020 were:
Powered industrial trucks, and
Machinery and machine guarding, general requirements.
The most frequently cited standards in 2020 in the construction industry were:
Scaffolding, general requirements,
Fall protection–training requirements, and
Eye and face protection.
This Workers Memorial Day, we encourage you to take a fresh look at your facilities and look for potential areas where these OSHA violations might exist in one or more of your workplaces – and what you can do to address them. Think about these oft-encountered safety issues and how well you are managing and planning for them.
Continual improvement measures, frequent hazard assessments, and strongsafety management systems and programs are key to the employee, operational, and financial health of your organization. Essential to our own health and safety philosophy, BBJ Group views our health and safety services as a partnership between us and our clients, and our clients’ management teams and their front-line workforces, working together to design and implement programs to protect their most valuable resource, their people. We encourage you to take a holistic approach to worker protection, using key members of your workforce community to develop processes that align with employees’ daily routines and encourage frequent feedback.
If you can take your health and safety programs beyond simple OSHA compliance towards more forward-thinking programs, such as performance-based safety and total worker health programs, safety leadership programs, and incorporating leading indicators into safety data management, you’ll be that much farther in not only reducing the likelihood of having one or more of OSHA’s Top 10 violations at your facilities, but in fostering an environment that embodies the message of Worker Memorial Day.