Employers failing to communicate hazardous chemicals in the work place once again was found by OSHA to be the leading safety citation in the general industry category, according to OSHA's Top 10 most frequently cited standards for 2010 that mirrored those released last year.
OSHA announced the list earlier this month at the National Safety Congress. The regulation, 29 CRF 1910.1200, states that workplaces using hazardous chemicals must develop a comprehensive hazard communication program to notify employees of any and all health risks. This includes container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets and employee training.
School transportation work sites as government agencies are generally exempt from OSHA rules, but many manufacturers of school bus and school transportation products, services and equipment must adhere to the regulations.
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and to provide information about them through labels on shipped containers and more detailed information sheets called material safety data sheets (MSDSs). All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces, such as in bus garages or a manufacturing facility, must prepare and implement a written hazard communication program and must ensure that all containers are labeled, employees are provided access to MSDSs, and an effective training program is conducted for all potentially exposed employees.
The Top 10 OSHA safety citations fall under the categories construction or general industry, the latter of which accounted for all but three of the issues. Those affecting school transporters or vendors and suppliers (and potentially some school transporters) are: control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout); electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment; powered industrial trucks; electrical systems design; and machine guarding.
OSHA also announced a new penalty policy effective on Oct. 1 that expands the time period for considering an employer's past history of OSHA violations, determining violations and determining penalty increases and reductions to five years from the previous three. An employer who has been inspected by OSHA within the last five years and has no serious, willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations will receive a 10 percent reduction in its penalty. However, employers cited by OSHA for a "high-gravity, serious, willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violation" within the previous five years will see their penalties increase by 10 percent up to the statutory maximum.
Meanwhile, employers that have not been inspected or that received a citation for serious violations that were not high-gravity will not receive either a reduction or an increase based on past inspection history.