Non-construction sector companies with elevated rates of workplace injury or illness will come under increased scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the coming months. Officials revised the OSHA Site-Specific Targeting (SST) policy in December 2020 as part of its National Emphasis Programs.
What this means for non-construction outfits is that heightened OSHA resources will be leveraged, and companies can anticipate rigorous inspections. Organizations with more than 20 employees would be well served to promptly review their health and safety protocols and proactively stockpile disposable personal protective clothing and equipment before OSHA inspectors arrive.
How Did The OSHA Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Policy Change?
The federal agency mandated employers to submit illness and injury data on Form 300A during the calendar years 2017-2019. The safety organization will now circle back and analyze that data for the purpose of identifying workplaces that post higher than average rates of illness and injury. The revised SST policy directs officials and field offices to take the following measures.
- Create a new category for organizations that suffer consistent illness and injury rates based on the three years of 300A data.
- Conduct inspections of facilities that demonstrate heightened worker risk.
- Allow health and safety compliance officials to downgrade inspections to “records only” when a company was incorrectly added to the category.
Under the new SST directive, field officers will be tasked with vetting workplaces when spikes in illness and injury occur. One of the salient issues that business leaders should be keenly aware of is that the newly minted SST policy remains linked to National Emphasis Programs. These programs typically focus on high-risk contact with hazardous materials and duties.
What Employers Need To Know About National Emphasis Programs
Under the new SST policy, OSHA generates inspection lists based on elevated Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rates. An organization’s DART rates measure the days away, restricted work, and transfers by multiplying it by 200,000. That number is then divided by the total work hours of all employees. If the 2019 data appears elevated, or a company with 20 or more people didn’t submit Form 300A, the National Emphasis Programs focus on hazards could be triggered. These typically include the following.
- Combustible Dust: OSHA classifies combustible dust as any material that can burn rapidly or explode. This dust often goes airborne, covering worker clothing, makes skin contact, and can enter the lungs.
- Hexavalent Chromium: This cancer-causing agent can impact the liver, kidneys, skin, eyes, and lungs unless adequate protective clothing and equipment are used by workers consistently. People who conduct “hot work” are considered high risk.
- Crystalline Silica: Often found in the manufacturing sector to make glass, pottery, ceramics, and other products, this fine dust can be 100 times smaller than beach sand. It penetrates the eyes, respiratory system, ears, and skin if workers are not insulated by using disposable protective clothing, eye protection, and breathable masks.
Employers need to take proactive measures to ensure employee safety so that workers do not suffer illness or injury. Business leaders who find themselves on the SST list face high fines and potential criminal penalties that include incarceration if corrective measures are not taken.
The best protection for working people and corporations alike is to maintain a complete supply of disposable PPE and equipment, and mandate that every worker wears them. International Enviroguard produces a complete line of personal protective clothing and accessories that exceeds industry safety standards set by OSHA.