OSHA serious about safety vests in hazardous traffic situations

In another example of OSHA’s effort to enforce safety in the workplace, OSHA has issued one willful and two serious safety citations to a Grand Blanc construction company for failing to adequately protect employees from cave-in and traffic hazards.  The company faces penalties up to $54, 600 as a result of the inspection.

The serious citations include failing to require employees to wear head protection and warning vest while working in a trench along a roadway where they were exposed to traffic hazards.  “A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result form a hazard about which the employer know or should have known.

In October of 2009, OSAH issued a new letter of interpretation that requires construction workers wear high-visibility warning garments.

“Highway construction workers should not suffer serious or fatal injuries simply because they could not be seen,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. “Requiring the use of reflective vests is essential to help prevent workers from being injured or killed.”

The new letter states that all highway and road construction workers must wear high-visibility apparel regardless of whether the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires them.  Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforced the need for using safety apparel when data from 2003 to 2007 showed there were 425 road construction work zone fatalities.

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