What is Industrial Safety?
It’s no secret that American workers face danger every day after clocking in. Loggers face risks from falling trees whenever they rev a chainsaw, oil and gas personnel work with explosive materials, and construction workers are often one step away from disastrous falls.
Risks and hazards aren’t confined to these dangerous occupations, however. According to OSHA, more workers were injured in the healthcare industry in 2010 than in any other sector—owing largely to biological, respiratory, and radioactive hazards common in laboratory environments.
In addition to the health risks, these dangers can cripple a company’s bottom line. According to OSHA, on-the-job injuries and illnesses cost American employers more than $53 billion every year in workers’ compensation costs alone.
Given these harrowing statistics, it’s important to be mindful of industrial safety regulations and how various sectors can create a safe environment that accounts for hazards that may be present.
Industrial Safety Regulations
Most private sector employers are regulated by OSHA, but other agencies throughout the United States cover workers in other industries, such as oil and gas, logging, and mining.
While by no means a comprehensive list, these are some of the principal organizations that develop industrial safety standards in the United States.
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA is the largest and most well-known United States agency regulating workplace safety. It formed following passage of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 29, 1970.
According to OSHA, the agency was created “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
Today, OSHA covers most private sector industries throughout the United States and other U.S. jurisdictions.
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA): MSHA is the U.S. government’s mine safety branch. Its mission is to reduce risks and hazards in the nation’s mines while improving safety; MSHA does this by developing safety rules for all U.S. mines and providing education for mine operators.
U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): These agencies work to encourage safety for offshore workers in the oil and gas industries.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT): The DOT’s goal is to provide safe, efficient transportation systems. Numerous DOT agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Highway Administration, establish rules and regulations for workers who rely on federal transportation systems to do their jobs.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI): ANSI, a private organization, oversees the creation and development of standards in a variety of industries. Given that ANSI isn’t a government agency, its standards are considered voluntary; however, some ANSI standards are referenced by codes and regulations set forth by government agencies such as OSHA. (One such example is ANSI Z87.1-2015, which relates to the selection, care, testing, and use of eye protection.)
Industrial Safety Sectors
Industrial safety regulations play a vital role in ensuring the safety of workers in all fields and sectors. These are some of the sectors that face an unusually high number of workplace hazards.
Construction: It’s no secret that construction workers face numerous on-the-job hazards. They may face respiratory hazards, ergonomic challenges, and electrocution risks.
Yet falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Ineffective or missing fall protection has been OSHA’s most-cited violation every year since 2011; OSHA provides numerous resources promoting the safe, effective use of fall protection.
Healthcare: According to OSHA, the healthcare field reported more injuries and illnesses than any other private industry sector in 2010, with 653,900 cases. Some of the hazards faced by healthcare workers include:
- Bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards
- Exposure to harmful drugs and chemicals, including formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde
- Respiratory hazards
- Radioactive material and x-ray hazards
The healthcare sector is regulated by under OSHA 29 CFR 1910, the agency’s general industry standards.
Mining: Miners have long been exposed to respiratory hazards, cave-in dangers, explosive materials, and more. Mining deaths are lower than ever—28 miners died in 2015 in work-related accidents, down from 45 in 2014—but modern mines remain hazardous workplaces.
MSHA’s top 10 violations of 2015 included the following:
- Improper electrical equipment maintenance
- Improper maintenance or misapplication of incombustible content of rock dust
- Inadequate mine shaft ventilation
- Moving machine part violations
- Accumulation of combustible materials
Learn more about these violations and the MSHA standards governing each.
Industrial Safety Solutions
Numerous safety solutions are available to help mitigate risks and account for workplace hazards. Here are some solutions for a few high-risk fields.
Construction: Given the high number of fall protection violations each year, construction workers should be familiar with OSHA’s fall protection standards and guidelines. Our in-depth article covers regulations for guardrails and handrails, toe boards, scaffolding, and more.
Additional information and statistics can be found in this fall protection infographic, produced by Graphic Products.
Oil and gas: Workers aboard offshore rigs and ships at sea often perform their duties on slippery surfaces that pose trip-and-fall hazards. PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tape by Graphic Products can assist in making wet surfaces more secure. Tread anti-slip tape, in particular, helps workers maintain traction on otherwise slick areas.
Healthcare: Healthcare workers, especially those in laboratories, can promote a safer work environment through effective PPE. Safe solutions may include eye protection, hand protection, respiratory protection, protective clothing, and more. Lab workers might also consider hazardous storage, showers, eye wash stations, and first aid accessories.
Need help figuring out what exactly your facility needs? Graphic Products offers an on-site Safety Compliance Services. A certified safety professional can review your safety efforts, help you comply with crucial regulations, and provide solutions for improving safety throughout your facility.
Industrial Safety Labels
DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products help companies in any industry create and print clear, custom visual communication. With numerous tough-tested printers and more than 50 application-specific supplies, you’ll find the right tools to keep employees safe.
For more in-depth information on labels and visual communication, grab our Best Practice Guide to OSHA Safety Signs. The guide provides an overview on labeling in accordance with OSHA and ANSI standards, instructions for creating custom signs, and more.