Essential Items to Include in Your Annual Safety Checklist

East Texas clay pot manufacturer Marshall Pottery faces a potential $831,000 in OSHA fines for 31 violations, following the death of a worker who was killed trying to perform maintenance on a 300-foot kiln. In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit, the company is being charged with a list of violations that include regulations regarding unsafe scaffolding, portable fire extinguishers, respiratory protection, occupational noise exposure and permit-required confined spaces, to name a  few.

Penalties like these can be crippling to a company’s profits as well as their reputation. One of the best way to avoid OSHA penalties is to use an annual safety checklist to make sure you’re in compliance with applicable regulations. Here are some essential things you should be sure to  cover.

Preventing Falls

Failure to follow fall prevention regulations is the most common OSHA safety violation. Avoid fall violations and injuries by following good fall prevention guidelines, which  include:

  • Floors supply solid traction, with no hazards such as loose rugs or bumps
  • Walkway areas are lit well and kept clean and free of obstructions
  • Employees have access to equipment for cleaning spills and are trained to use it
  • Stairs are clear with good lighting and have no loose steps or rails
  • Ladders are available where needed and are kept in good condition
  • Holes with potential falls of 6 feet or more are protected by preventive means such as rails and/or protective means such as nets

Avoiding Overexertion Injuries

Activities such as heavy lifting that cause overexertion contribute to more workplace injury claims than any other factor. Follow overexertion prevention safety  practices:

  • Workers who regularly lift and move heavy objects have training in ergonomic best practices for injury prevention and correct use of support belts
  • Workers physically incapable of heavy lifting are trained to seek assistance from appointed colleagues

Safe Use of Equipment, Tools, Storage and Vehicles

Use equipment, tools, storage, and vehicles  safely:

  • Machines are maintained in proper working condition, with parts such as o-rings checked regularly, safety guards installed and workers trained to use safety equipment
  • Protective equipment such as hard hats, goggles and ear protectors are provided, along with training in proper use
  • Tools, wires and cords are in proper working condition, with employees trained to use them safely
  • Materials are piled in stable stacks, with ladders available where needed
  • Vehicles are maintained, with maintenance documented through routine safety checklists and logs, and employees are trained to use vehicles safely and inform supervisors of any problems

Safe Use of Lighting and Electrical Equipment

Lighting and electrical problems can lead to falls, fires and shocks, so take appropriate  measures:

  • Lighting is adequate for employee tasks
  • Emergency lights are provided where needed
  • Wires and other electrical equipment are in good working order
  • All electrical cords and tools are grounded
  • Circuit load limits are not exceeded

Preventing Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repeated motions can cause injuries and lead to liability, so take protective  steps:

  • Workers are trained how to ergonomically perform repeated tasks, with emphasis on the importance of periodic breaks and stretching
  • Ergonomic safety equipment is available
  • Workers who handle repeated tasks are rotated through other tasks over the course of the day to allow recovery time

Preparing for Health Emergencies

Despite your best preventive efforts, injuries may occur, so prepare your staff and workers to handle health  emergencies:

  • Workers are instructed how to respond to emergency situations
  • Emergency numbers and instructions are visibly posted
  • Workers know where to find first aid supplies
  • Workers have undergone “right to know” training on hazardous materials and use of Material Safety Data Sheets

Managing Fire Emergencies

Being prepared for fires is another part of workplace  safety:

  • Flammable materials are labeled and stored correctly away from heat and spark sources
  • Heat and spark sources are protected and placed away from fuel sources such as trash
  • Smoke and sprinkler systems are installed and maintained
  • Escape routes are posted
  • Fire exits are accessible and unlocked
  • Fire extinguishers are accessible and maintained

Keeping Premises Secure

Security breaches such as robberies can also endanger your workers, so take proper preventive  measures:

  • Security guard monitoring and employee buddy systems are in place
  • Adequate lighting in parking lots and other outdoor areas and maintenance of landscape features such as bushes removes possible concealment spots for criminals
  • Parking lots and interior areas are structured to keep visitors and workers under observation and to prevent workers from being trapped in confined spaces
  • Security barriers and alarm systems are in place and in good working condition
  • Workers who handle cash have received proper training
  • Employees with valuables have the option of storing them in secure storage areas
  • Supervisors are trained in responding to workplace violence
  • Telephones can be reached from all work areas, with emergency numbers posted

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.