While glass companies pride themselves on getting their products out the door in pristine condition, an even bigger priority for glass manufacturers and fabricators is to ensure their employees get out of the plant doors in top shape. And that means keeping the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) happy.

Hierarchy (2)In order to assist companies in their compliance of federal regulations, Regina McMichael, president of the risk management firm The Learning Factory, recently presented a webinar addressing five of the top 10 OSHA violations.

McMichael touched on the “hierarchy of controls,” (see photo) designed to provide steps to help eliminate safety hazards. “It’s tough these days to get great workers—and to get those great workers to stay put,” she says. “So, their safety is important.”

McMichael began the presentation with a hierarchy of steps that should be taken when dealing with potential safety violations.

“We always want to engineer, eliminate or substitute the hazard away before we get into administrative practices,” she says. “Administration? That even sounds painful, doesn’t it? Personal protective equipment is our last line of defense, but it’s what everyone thinks of in the first place.”

She then addressed the five important subjects of OSHA citations—forklifts, hazard communication, respirators, wiring and guardrails.

Wiring

Exposed wiring was at the forefront of potential OSHA citations.

“For the kind of exposures we have, the only appropriate solution is to engineer the hazard away,” McMichael says. “The best possible solution [could be] to quite simply put a cover on [exposed wiring].” She also recommends walking your site, identifying dangers and hiring a certified electrician to take care of them.

Forklifts

She recommends companies engineer away certain hazards to make them nonexistent.

“I’m going to guess that there are ways to improve traffic patterns,” McMichael says, noting that one of her clients went from 10 forklifts to two after re-evaluating forklift safety measures.

 Hazard Communication (Hazcom)

McMichael encouraged listeners to update their hazcom practices. For example, she suggests converting documents in paper format to electronic files. “Life is easier if you do it electronically,” she says.

Respirators

Companies should get rid of these altogether, according McMichael. “The best practice is to stop using them,” she says. “You can do that through local ventilation—there’s a whole lot of things. If you’ve got some nasty stuff in the air and can suck it out of the air before it gets breathed in, that would be great. I can’t say that’s all you have to do, though.”

Guardrails/Holes

According to the webinar, making the investment in guardrails is the best way to go—much safer and efficient than a safety harness, McMichael says.