OSHA Inspections

OSHA Inspections are key to safety and health in the country.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for safeguarding America’s workforce.  Created in 1971, the agency sets standards for companies to follow in order to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, free of hazards.  OSHA is not required to provide companies with prior notice before conducting an inspection.  Most OSHA inspections happen for a specific reason.  OSHA’s inspection priorities are as follows:

  • Imminent danger.
  • Catastrophes and Fatal Accidents.
  • Complaints and Referrals.
  • Programmed Inspections.
  • Follow-up Inspections.

OSHA is dedicated to promoting a safe work environment for all American workers. OSHA inspectors are committed to the agency’s mission of ensuring the safety and health of American workers by implementing and enforcing standards as well as providing training, outreach, and education.  Since OSHA’s inception, workplace fatalities have been reduced by 65 percent and occupational illnesses and injuries have declined by 62 percent.

Businesses should ALWAYS be prepared for an OSHA Inspections at any time.  Managers should be aware of current trends relative to their industry, local compliance issues and even other plant inspections.  Additionally, management is responsible for making certain their job sites are in compliance with OSHA standards.  Workers should be trained on OSHA standards and expectations. Everyone at the work site should be held accountable for safety and health related issues. According to data released by OSHA, the most common violations include:

  • Lockout/tagout
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Hazardous chemical information and training
  • First-aid and eyewash facilities
  • Walking-working surfaces
  • Respiratory protection
  • Electrical wiring
  • Powered industrial trucks
  • Machine guarding

Employers should consider the following basic tips when preparing for OSHA inspections.

  • Be prepared.
  • Know your rights.
  • Inquire about the reason for the inspection.
  • ANSWER only questions ASKED.
  • Interact with the OSHA representative during the entire inspection
  • Make sure your record-keeping is accurate and up to date.  Documentation may be requested.
  • Remain calm and professional throughout the process.





Heat Illness and Related Symptoms

Heat related illnesses can be fatal to workers if not identified and treated quickly.As summer approaches, temperatures reach dangerous levels.  Workers have to be proactive at preventing heat related illnesses.  Employers must educate workers on symptoms related to heat illness and ensure workers have the necessary tools and resources at the job site to be safe and healthy.

Heat illness can lead to death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers become sick or die each year due to heat illness.  In 2011, OSHA initiated a Heat Illness Prevention Campaign to help workers and employers become aware of the hazards associated with working in hot weather.

While it’s normal to think of heat related illnesses as associated with the high temperatures in the summer months, the key factor is the ambient temperature in the work area. In enclosed spaces, where heat-generating tools are used, temperatures may easily rise to dangerous enough levels as to cause symptoms. Physical exertion also plays a pivotal role. Temperatures may not be as high as typically thought to cause illness, but if an increased physical exertion is present, this raises the overall body temperature.

According to Medline Plus and the Centers for Disease Control, most heat illnesses occur from staying in the heat too long.  Prolonged exposure to heat causes your body temperature to rise to dangerous levels. Heat related illnesses include heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. Workers required to work outdoors should recognize the symptoms of these heat related illnesses.

  • Heatstroke- A potentially deadly illness in which body temperatures can rise above 106° F in minutes. Symptoms include dry skin, rapid strong pulse, and dizziness.
  • Heat exhaustion-An illness that occurs before heat stroke. Common symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing, and a fast, weak pulse.
  • Heat cramps-Muscle pains or spasms that transpire during heavy exercise.
  • Heat rash- Skin irritation from excessive sweating.

Employers and workers can access educational and training materials related to heat illness at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) official website devoted to the topic, http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.

Tenneco Automotive Cited by OSHA For Hexavalent Chromium Hazards

Hexavalent chromium hazards found at Tenneco in Georgia.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined Tenneco Automotive of Hartwell, Georgia $79,300. This fine is the result of a February inspection that uncovered 14 safety and health violations related to hexavalent chromium and other serious conditions.

Headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, Tenneco employs nearly 25,000 employees worldwide with 80 facilities around the world. Tenneco Automotive is a global transportation component manufacturer according to the company’s official website.

Some of the serious violations involved the following:

➢ Failure to protect employees from exposure to hexavalent chromium.

➢ Neglecting to ensure that employees working with and around the toxic chemical remove their contaminated clothing and shower before leaving the facility.

➢ Lack of free medical surveillance for employees showing symptoms related to hexavalent chromium.

➢ Evidence of trip and fall hazards.

➢ Inadequate respirator usage.

The other-than-serious violation included the following.

➢ Improper record keeping in the OSHA log.

➢ Allowing temporary electrical extension cord to be used as permanent wiring.

Hexavalent Chromium is produced in many common industrial processes and its exposure is deemed a health hazard and a carcinogen.Workers who are exposed to hexavalent chromium are at increased risk of developing lung cancer, asthma, or damage to the nasal epithelia and skin. Industrial uses of hexavalent chromium compounds include chromate pigments in dyes, paints, inks, and plastics; chromates added as anticorrosive agents to paints, primers, and other surface coatings; and chromic acid electroplated onto metal parts to provide a decorative or protective coating. Hexavalent chromium can also be formed when performing “hot work” such as welding on stainless steel or melting chromium metal. Adequate respirators must be provided to guard against exposure to the chemical.

William Fulcher of OSHA’s Atlanta-East office commented Tenneco should take proactive steps to eliminate these safety and health hazards. OSHA is committed to workplace safety.


Houston’s Anhueser-Busch Brewery Cited by OSHA

Confined Space Violations at Anhueser-Busch in Houston lead to OSHA fines.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Anhueser-Busch Cos. LLC in Houston with five serious violations and one willful violation.  The fines total $88, 000.  The citation stemmed from a 2012 inspection where multiple violations of confined space protocol were uncovered.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Anhueser-Busch has twelve breweries throughout the United States including Houston. The company was founded in 1852. Anheuser-Busch brews the world’s largest selling beers.

The willful violation involved failing to protect workers from being exposed to carbon dioxide and neglecting to identify respiratory hazards.

According to OSHA, the serious violations included:

  • Failing to verify that conditions in permit required confined spaces are acceptable throughout the duration of the entry.
  • Neglecting to ensure the entrant can communicate with the permit required confined space attendant as necessary.
  • Failure to make sure each attendant performs no other duty that might interfere with the attendant’s primary duty to monitor and protect the entrant of the permit required confined space.
  • Failing to evaluate a prospective rescuer’s ability to respond to a rescue summons in a timely manner.
  • Anhueser-Busch did not inform each team or rescue service of the hazards they may confront when called upon to perform a rescue at the site.

Confined spaces are dangerous working areas where movement is restricted. In such places, proper ventilation many times can become compromised, leading to suffocation. A confined space is also where situations are such that a rescue is difficult without established protocols in place.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

David Doucet, OSHA area director of Houston’s North office insisted employers must recognize the hazards that exist in the workplace and be proactive at developing the necessary safety and health policies to protect workers.