OSHA report lists most common violations

Barbara E. Thompson

Hazard communications appears three times in the top 10 of the most commonly cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations for the construction industry, according to a 1994 report by the U.S. Department of Labor. The hazard communications standard is based on the employees` need and right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to when they are working. Employees also need to know what protective measures are available to prevent adverse effects.

"The OSHA regulations state that you should have material safety data sheets on hand at the site for any hazardous product that a worker may be exposed to," says Brian Kingman, safety officer at Consolidated Services Group (Norwood, MA).

The material safety data sheet lists the product by trade name and chemical composition and indicates handling and proper disposal. "It gives you information on hazards and precautions when the product is being used," says Kingman. "For example, use respirators, gloves or eye protection. It also tells what you should do in the event of a spill. A material safety data sheet should be accessible to employees for fire extinguishers and products such as cable lubricants, oil and gas [for generators], and spray paint," he says.

Other common OSHA violations include safety training and education, personnel protective equipment, scaffolding and open-sided floor/guardrails. As a foreman, technician or installer`s helper, it is your responsibility to be aware of the OSHA regulations pertaining to the cabling industry. However, it may be difficult to find a specific compliance ruling unless you know how to decipher the numbers and letters assigned to the regulations.

Finding the regulation

The OSHA standards are listed in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 1901-1926. The Code is divided into 50 titles, and Title 29 is assigned to labor regulations. Every OSHA standard, therefore, starts with "29 CFR."

The next four numbers, followed by a period, are parts of the OSHA standard; for example, 1901, 1903, 1910 or 1926. The second set of numbers is the individual standard, followed by the name of the standard.

"For example, 29 CFR 1926.100 head protection," explains Kingman, "indicates Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 1926, section 100 regarding head protection."

Some standards also have sub-sections: (a), (b), (c) etc., followed by Arabic numerals (1), (2), (3), Roman numerals (i), (ii), (iii), and then (A), (B), (C).

"To find one of the restrictions on using a gaff [lineman`s climbing iron] listed as 29 CFR 1910.268(g)(3)(iv)(B)," Kingman continues, "you would look up: 1910.268 telecommunications, (g) personal climbing equipment, (3) pole climbers, (iv), then (B) to find the restriction on using gaffs."

Remember that the sequence remains the same for all OSHA standards. "Once you learn what each number or letter in the standard represents," says Kingman, "with a little practice, you will soon be able to locate the answer to any OSHA compliance question."

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