A recognized hazard can be based on employer awareness. Employer awareness may be demonstrated by review of company memorandums, written or oral statements, safety work rules that specifically identify a hazard, operations manuals, standard operating procedures, and collective bargaining agreements. In addition, prior accidents/incidents, near misses known to the employer, injury and illness reports, or workers’ compensation data may also show employer knowledge of a hazard. Employee complaints or grievances and safety committee reports to supervisory personnel may also establish recognition of the hazard. An employer’s own corrective actions may serve as the basis for establishing recognition if the corrective action did not afford effective protection to the employees.
A hazard is recognized if your industry is aware of its existence. Industry recognized hazards can be:
• Statements by safety or health experts in your industry
• Implementation of abatement methods to deal with the particular hazard by other members of your industry
• Manufacturers’ warnings on equipment or in literature that are relevant to the hazard
• Studies conducted by your industry that demonstrate awareness of the hazard
• Government and insurance studies, where the industry is familiar with the studies and recognizes their validity
• State and local laws or regulations that apply where the violation is has occurred and which currently are enforced against the industry in question
• Industry participation in committees drafting national consensus standards (such as ANSI or NFPA, etc.)
• References that may be used to supplement other evidence to help demonstrate industry recognition include the following: NIOSH criteria documents, EPA publications, National Cancer Institute and other agency publications, OSHA hazard alerts, and OSHA technical manual.
COMMON SENSE RECOGNITION
Hazard recognition can be established if a hazardous condition is so obvious that any reasonable person would have recognized it. This form of recognition is used only in flagrant or obvious cases.
THE HAZARD MAY BE CORRECTED BY A FEASIBLE AND USEFUL METHOD
If a proposed abatement method would eliminate or significantly reduce the hazard beyond whatever measures the employer may be taking, a General Duty Clause citation may be issued.
The bottom line is obvious. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep their employees safe. Part of this is complying with all defined OSHA standards and regulations that pertain to the workplace. Additionally, it is important to understand the implications of the General Duty Clause and to be proactive about safety programs, even for hazards for which OSHA has no specific standard.
In case you missed them, the links to the
additional articles in the series are provides below:
Article 1: Get With The Program
Article 2: Personal Protective Equipment
Article 3: Hazard Communication
Visit www.technetrainonline.com for a full line of employer guides and employee safety training programs for OSHA Compliance in the solid surface industry, or contact TechneTrain, Inc. at (513) 248-0028.