It is OSHA’s job to regulate safety in the workplace. Failing to meet their standards can result in citations and hefty fines. But a visit from OSHA doesn’t have to bring on feelings of anxiety and fear for employers.
If employers take the necessary steps towards compliance, they can rest easy when OSHA comes knocking.
Here are the top 10 ways to avoid OSHA fines:
- Being Prepared – In most cases, OSHA won’t show up without a reason. Possible reasons for a visit to your jobsite include: a fatality or serious accident, employee complaint of unsafe conditions, and follow-up inspections.
- Hazard Communication (HazCom) – Failure to maintain adequate HazCom programs is one of the most common citations nationwide. The fundamental of this standard is that employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace have a right to know about the hazards and how to protect themselves. Some compliance with the HazCom standard involve having a list of all hazardous materials on your jobsite, training in the proper use of PPE, and MSDS sheets on site.
- Training - Failure to meet PPE requirements, which includes offering required PPE and training to employees as well as written certification, is also a common citation. Simply taking the time to train employees will not only prevent injuries, it will save you money in the long run.
- Paperwork - OSHA views maintaining paperwork as critical to safe operations. Inspectors are likely to review written HazCom or PPE program materials, training documentation and more. By having paperwork readily available, you are showing that you care about your safety program.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls – Because of the seriousness of fall-related injury, OSHA takes fall protection very seriously. Employers must be sure to properly install fall protection equipment, adequately train employees in the use of fall protection equipment, and use safe work practices.
Citations involving ladders have only recently became common. Data suggests that more and more people are using ladders when they shouldn’t. Ladders that are broken or bent should not be used – ever. Working on and around ladders can be hazardous, and proper is a must.
- Ergonomics – Overexertion is a leading cause of work-related injury, and is unique in that is can happen over a long period of time. Ergonomics is like designing the job around the worker through feasible engineering controls. This can greatly reduce the risk of injury – and an OSHA inspection – in your facility.
- Lockout/Tagout – If your employees operate any heavy machinery or equipment that needs to be shut down before performing any routine maintenance or service, you are required to implement a lockout/tagout program. Failure to comply can be costly – up to $7,000 per violation.
- Engineering Controls – Engineering controls are used to remove a hazard or place a barrier between the worker and the hazard. Examples include ventilation systems, sound-dampening materials to reduce noise levels, and safety interlocks. These things may come at an initial cost, but will be well worth it in the long run.
- Administrative Controls – These work practice controls are changes in procedures with the goal of reducing duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to hazards in the workplace. Examples include rotating workers to avoid repetitive motion injuries, requiring breaks when working in hot environments, and proper housekeeping.
- Research – If you are unsure if your facility is in compliance with any OSHA standards, the web has a ton of useful information. OSHA’s website has a variety of materials, supplies, handbooks and articles that will help you to avoid violations during an inspection.
On any jobsite, accidents can and do happen. But by taking the proper steps, you can work with OSHA to ensure all employees work in safe and healthy conditions in order to prevent injuries.