Since its establishment in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been responsible for enforcing workplace health and safety laws to protect worker well-being. Though the agency oversees regulatory compliance for all types of businesses, it’s especially important in manufacturing and industrial jobs. For over a decade, OSHA has published a list of the top 10 most frequently cited safety standards each year. The most common offenses in 2022 were:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements 
  2. Hazard Communication 
  3. Respiratory Protection
  4. Ladders
  5. Scaffolding
  6. Lockout/Tagout
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements
  9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection
  10. Machine Guarding

Where does the metalworking industry stand on this list?

The Top 3 OSHA Violations Metalworkers Should Avoid

Violating OSHA standards comes at a significant cost, and they’re only increasing. In 2023, OSHA raised the penalty of individual violations from $14,502 to $15,625 and repeated violations from $145,027 to $156,259. As a result, businesses in the metalworking industry need to take extra care to avoid some of these top violations — both to protect employees and to mitigate financial losses. Here’s what to watch out for and how to maintain compliance:

1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment Violations

Machine shops can be one of the most hazardous environments in the manufacturing industry — but they don’t have to be. Adherence to PPE guidelines is especially important. Employees on the shop floor should always wear safety glasses to safeguard against airborne debris. Ear protection is strongly recommended to protect hearing from the excessive noise of machining operations. In addition, machine parts have many sharp metal edges, so gloves and safety shoes are essential for preventing injuries.

2. Fall Protection Violations

Keeping the shop floor clean is key to preventing slips and falls, but busy production schedules can make it difficult to maintain standards. One of the best ways to keep the workshop tidy is to prevent it from becoming hazardous in the first place. That’s where metal cutting fluid choice can make a major impact. Investing in high-quality, water soluble TRIM® cutting fluids minimizes oil misting that can coat surfaces in residue. When cleaning is necessary, industrial strength cleaners and degreasers like Master STAGES™ CLEAN F2™ can easily remove even the toughest soils commonly found in manufacturing environments without hazardous chemicals.

3. Respiratory Protection Violations

Prolonged exposure to fumes, smoke, and poor air quality in the workplace can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, and other severe respiratory conditions that lead to an unpleasant working environment. Metalworking fluid can also play a significant role in the air quality of the shop, especially when it comes to proper coolant selection and fluid maintenance. It’s important to keep the coolant in the proper concentration range, which minimizes coolant issues and extends sump life. Using too little concentration in the sump can cause bacteria, and even fungi, to grow in the fluid. Allowing tramp oil to collect in the sump can also create smoke and additional residues on machine and work surfaces.

Metal Cutting Fluid: A Key Ingredient to Workplace Safety

OSHA violations come at a steep cost, both in terms of revenue, risks to workers’ health. Manufacturers can both reduce risks and even improve employee morale. Manufacturers are responsible for providing employees with a safe working environment, as well as enforcing  proper behaviors on the shop floor. Ultimately, creating a safe environment takes more than the right company culture. Leadership needs to carefully select machinery, workpiece material, and even high-quality cutting fluid to ensure the best outcomes.

Master Fluid Solutions has a 70-year history of cutting fluid innovation and maintenance education designed to improve both manufacturing productivity and the workplace environment. Whether you need help selecting a more worker-friendly cutting fluid or insight into training for better operational safety and efficiency, our team has solutions. Contact us today to learn more.