For a seventh consecutive year, Respiratory Hazards ranks fourth on the OSHA top ten violations list
At the National Safety Council Congress & Expo 2017, OSHA released the OSHA Top 10 Most Cited Violations list for the 2017 fiscal year. At number four on the list: Respiratory hazards. With the new silica standard for general industry set for enforcement on June 23, this year may see even more respiratory hazard violations.
The list varies little year to year, with respiratory protection consistently ranking in the top five violations. In 2017, there were a total of 3,381 respiratory protection violations, with over 600 citations falling under Standard 29 CFR 1910.134(e)(1), which states that “the employer shall provide a written medical evaluation to determine the employee’s ability to use a respirator, before the employee is fit tested or required to use the respirator in the workplace.”
Other top violations included failing to have a written respiratory protection program, and failing to conduct required medical surveillance testing for workers required to wear respirators. Employers continue to violate these policies, yet respiratory protection stands as the easiest with which to comply.
OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.34(a)(2) requires that “a respirator shall be provided to each employee when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such employee.” However, this only the surface of all that respiratory regulation entails. Many employers overlook the need to have medical evaluations, fit testing, hazard evaluation, training, and to establish a respiratory protection program. In fact, those five items are the top OSHA respiratory citations from 2016.
When employers fail to implement proper respiratory hazard plans, they are putting their employees at risk of overexposure to hazardous substances that can lead to lifelong health issues and even death. They are also putting their companies at risk for heavy fines, shut downs, and even legal sanctions. Approximately 5 million employees across 1.3 million U.S. workplaces are required to wear respirators, yet, numbers show that a vast amount of workers still go without protection. Of the 12.7 million people diagnosed with cancer each year, anywhere from 381,000 to 762,000 diagnoses stem from prolonged exposure to workplace carcinogens.
How to keep your workplace in compliance
- Identify workplace hazards and select appropriate protection
According to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134(d)(1)(iii), employers are responsible for identifying and evaluating the respiratory hazards in the workplace. After identifying what and where the hazards are, then the employer can determine their contamination level either with mathematical approaches or objective data. This will allow them to select the proper NIOSH-certified respirator.
- Establish an informational respiratory program
OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.134(c)(2)(i) requires that the employer provides employees with information on how to use respirators and implements a written respiratory program. This program will help employees determine whether or not they are healthy enough to use the respirator — and be able to detect that it has been properly cleaned, stored, and maintained.
- Use a medical service for respirator fit testing and medical evaluation
Worksite Medical offers mobile medical units that can come directly to your job site to perform medical surveillance testing. Services include an online respirator medical clearance questionnaire that can approve or deny employees for respirator use. On-site/clinic services include respirator fit testing and OSHA crystalline silica medical testing.
Learn more about our other services or call us at 1-844-622-8633 to schedule an appointment today.