OSHA fines are increasing in 2016, the first increase in 25 years. Previously, single willful violations faced a max penalty of $70,000 but are estimated to be raised to close to $127,000. Prior Serious citations maxed at $7,000 each and will likely rise to more than $12,000. Some of the areas we are seeing big fines? Here are just a few examples in the last few months of the fines OSHA dished out to companies:
- 2/3/16 OSHA cites L&P Manufacturing $77,000 for violations of the PersonalProtective Equipment standard.
- 2/22/16 OSHA finalizes $76,250 in fines against John Kuhni Sons, Inc.
- 2/9/16 OSHA assess fines at 3 locations for Swan’s Global Supply Chain Inc. $45,500, $56,500 and $70,000.
- 3/8/16 Mannington Mills, Inc was assessed $96,825. The file is still under negotiation.
Of course, the bottom line for business owners is that they want safe work conditions and employees that return home every day after work, fully intact. And for those who don’t prioritize safety, especially those in the construction industry, they should be ready for one of the over 75,000 OSHA inspections to be conducted in 2016.
If you want to avoid the biggest OSHA fines, you have to do more than just “care”. They are looking for specific things when they perform an inspection and these are 5 BIG
things they will be looking for:
Be sure your OSHA 300, 300A and 301 are complete. The right incidents need to be documented and claim information should not be included. There shouldn’t be any over
or under reporting, just accurate, complete information. The 300A should be posted from 2/1 through 4/30 each year.
Equipment Safety Inspections.
Inspect your fall protection equipment and ensure employees are using it. Equipment can fray or become slightly damaged, so be sure it stays safe and functional or that it is
removed from service, locked and tagged for nonuse according to regulations. Twists and tears that are visible mean those items need repair or replacement. Train employees how to use the equipment and how to use personal protective equipment properly.
Chemical Safety Training.
Train every employee so they understand the hazards associated and how to protect themselves from the chemicals in their work area. Every employee must understand
what personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn and why. They should understand what damage the chemical can cause if protection is not used and what to do in the event of an emergency. All employees that work with hazardous chemicals are required to have been trained on the Globally Harmonized System and the Hazard Communication Standard prior to working with the chemicals or whenever there’s been a change.
Scaffolds and Falls.
Understand the different regulations and manufacturer requirements for each piece of scaffold you use. Scaffolding can vary slightly and if you aren’t aware of the differences, the possibility for injury increases. Know the differences and train on the the regulations and requirements of each piece.
“‘Falls remain the leading cause of death and injury on construction sites. It is inexcusable for employers to not provide fall protection,’ said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. ‘Despite being previously cited for exposing workers to these hazards, [censored] Construction has yet to commit to its legal responsibility to protect workers on the job.’ Proposed Penalties: $105,000” SOURCE: OSHA Press Release Comprehensive N95 Respirator program.
An N95 filtering facepiece is a respirator, even though it doesn’t look like one. A complete written program, medical evaluation, fit test and training is required even if the employee is not required to use one. Misuse and misunderstanding can lead to workplace injuries and claims. OSHA has the right to issue a citation for each exposure so if you have 4 employees using respirators, without following the components mentioned, they could assess $7,000 each. When the fines increase, that could be $12,000 per employee.