High Risk Industries OSHA is Targeting for Inspections

Many have heard about National Emphasis Programs (NEPs), but few actually understand just how far-reaching these programs are and what they are actually designed to accomplish.

These are temporary programs that allow OSHA to concentrate their resources on specific hazards, both existing and new, in an effort to curb and hopefully eliminate the rate of occurrence. By using the latest data and resources available to evaluate specific hazards and focus on solutions, the goal is to identify potential risks and put protocols in place to secure the safety of the workplace.

OSHA provides compliance assistance resources in the form of printed, online, video and audio instruction on safety for both employers and employees to ensure a safe work environment.

Here are some examples of what the National Emphasis Program is all about:

  • Combustible Dust has been a point of emphasis for OSHA. Defined as material composed of particles that present fire or deflagration hazards, every year workers are injured from combustion. In this type of situation, the National Emphasis Program directs experts to examine the results from accidents, conduct inspections and create a plan to address that specific hazard in an attempt to eliminate potential safety threats.
  • A National Emphasis Program can focus on a variety of scenarios, such as Hazardous Machinery and the dangers of amputations for workers. Even in an instance where no accident has occurred, by just exposing employees to hazards, a company is subject to substantial fines and penalties. Currently, OSHA has a program that will continue through at least September, with a goal to reduce risks for people who work around dangerous machinery, including ongoing training and warning signs.
  • Shipbreaking has long been a focus of OSHA as they constantly update protocols to ensure the safety of workers in shipyards. The goal is to protect employees from a bevy of hazardous materials during the dismantling and recycling of ships, such as asbestos and lead exposure, among many other dangers.

Safety Issues can be Anywhere

Risks aren’t simply limited to inside factories or on company property. Safety issues can exist anywhere and employers must be aware of the potential dangers and address them or face the consequences.  According to OSHA, a recent spike in trenching fatalities prompted the National Emphasis Program into action. Exposing workers to unsafe cave-in risks while working in or inspecting trenches has deadly consequences every year. Trench collapse is a daily risk on building sites around the world.

Invisible threats are also a focus of OSHA as unseen dangers that have long term effects

Dangers of Chromium 6

Made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts, hexavalent-chromium, also known as chromium 6 which is a rust suppressor, ended up contaminating the drinking water in a California town with potentially toxic carcinogens. The case gained national headlines and resulted in a settlement for a staggering $333 million. The dangers involved with this material has been recognized and is another example of what the National Emphasis Program does as the hazards of chromium 6 is now recognized and addressed.

Whatever the risk or situation, at any given time, there might be a dozen National Emphasis Programs in action, each designed to address the ongoing and ever-changing hazards in the workplace.

Will your workplace be next?

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