The increased likelihood that workers in high-hazard manufacturing industries — such as food, furniture, fabricated metal, nonmetallic mineral, machinery and computer products — will be injured on the job is leading federal safety and health inspectors in three Midwestern states to increase its focus on industry outreach and inspections to reduce injury and illness rates.
More than 340 workers died in fatal manufacturing incidents nationwide in 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a new Regional Emphasis Program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Regional and local emphasis programs are enforcement strategies designed to address high-risk industries; OSHA's regional and/or area offices implement the programs. Each begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations and workers. OSHA encourages employers to use this period to bring their facilities into compliance with federal safety and health standards, if they are not already.
"Workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are preventable when employers train workers and provide a safe and healthy work environment. This region-wide emphasis program provides 90 days of outreach and education to assist employers in high-hazard industries to eliminate hazards that can cause worker injuries and illnesses," said Marcia Drumm, regional administrator for OSHA. "The program will also re-direct OSHA's resources and increase the probability of inspections at establishments in high-hazard industries with more than 10 employees and those that have not had a comprehensive inspection since 2011."
OSHA prioritizes general industry inspections using the most recent BLS "Days Away, Restricted or Transferred" rates and its "Days Away From Work Injury and Illness" rates. Hazards related to lifting and other ergonomic stressors will also be evaluated.
The emphasis program focuses on manufacturing industries where injury and illness rates exceed the average for the private sector. Included are manufacturers of the following products: food, furniture, fabricated metal, nonmetallic mineral, machinery, and computer products as well as printing and related support activities.
This three-state emphasis program ends Sept. 30, 2016, unless extended. OSHA area offices will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations and fatalities.