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Committee says some OSHA standards too static

Pennsylvania employees who work with hazardous materials may be interested in learning that some experts feel that OSHA standards on handling this material have not kept up to date with technology. As a result, instead of following OSHA's zero-risk blanket approach, the ANSI/ASSE Z244.1 committee is instead focusing on developing safety standards that are a better fit for the new technology. This includes rejecting OSHA's standard for lockout/tagout, which involves completely shutting down machinery.

One of the committee members said that the OSHA rules actually contradict current best practices in the manufacturing industry and that around 10 percent of workplaces have a lockout program that surpasses OSHA's compliance standards. Approximately 60 percent of employers try to meet the standard while another 30 percent do not have lockout programs.

Conducting a thorough risk assessment is a chief component of the committee's revised standards. Once this risk assessment is completed, the safety program should be designed around it. The program should be one that is flexible enough to change based on new technology and other shifts in the workplace. It also requires documentation, employee training and an assessment of the system's effectiveness. The same elements can then be transferred to other workplace safety programs such as those focused on fall protection.

Whether or not workplaces have implemented safety programs, an employee may still suffer an injury. Regardless of who is at fault for the injury, a worker may be eligible for workers' compensation. Many people do not know their rights pertaining to workplace injuries, and their employers might mislead them about their rights or may not even be aware of them. Someone who is injured on the job might want to contact an attorney to discuss those rights. For example, an employer is not supposed to retaliate against a worker who applies for workers' compensation.

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