How to Avoid OSHA Violations and Lawsuits
It isn’t enough to say “safety first” if you want to comply with government regulations regarding workplace safety. You need to take steps to protect your staff and ensure they’re putting safety first because you can’t afford to ignore potential issues.
OSHA fines have been rising steadily since 2016, and they have jumped from seven thousand to more than twelve thousand dollars. Fines of over 100,000 dollars are not unheard of either, especially for repeat offenders. Here are a few tips on how to avoid OSHA violations and lawsuits.
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Pay Attention to Electrical Safety
Poorly installed electrical equipment and wiring don’t just blow out fuses and circuit breakers. They can spark costly electrical fires and injure people. In a worst-case scenario, problems with wiring or equipment can electrocute someone. That’s why it is one of OSHA’s top ten safety violations.
One solution is to ensure that people are using the right electrical equipment for the job. Don’t use indoor extension cords outdoors. Flexible cords and cables shouldn’t be used for permanent wiring. And no one should be working with electrical systems without proper training. Ensure that everyone can use lockout tagout locks so that items turned off while being worked on stay off until the work is done.
We aren’t talking about fire drills and first aid training, though that should certainly be implemented by every company. We’re suggesting taking steps to prepare for potential OSHA inspections. Have a plan for handling OSHA instructions. Practice having the worksite inspected by OSHA down to employee interviews and presenting any requested records. Verify that your employees understand their rights and responsibilities and that they follow through.
Implement a Fall Protection Program
Fall protection equipment is commonplace, whether your team is climbing on roofs or working near excavated trenches. A relatively new requirement that went into place in 2017 requires companies to provide fall protection training to their employers. They should know the proper procedures to minimize the risk of falling as well as how to properly use fall protection equipment. Then you can enforce safety rules because you can’t afford for OSHA to fine you after someone fell when they weren’t wearing a harness.
Install Machine Guards
Machines without machine guards are a threat to worker safety. This is true whether it exposes someone to moving parts that could crush fingers or flying pieces that could blind them. Crushing, maiming, burns, and lacerations are just some of the hazards that people are exposed to without guards. Having machine guards installed is only the first step. The next is ensuring people know not to remove them so they can fix something and report damaged guards or malfunctioning machines to mechanics who can work on it safely.
Allow people to speak up freely about safety hazards. They should be able to report issues without fear of retribution and in an anonymous way. Nor is it good enough to give them access to a suggestion box or tell them to inform a supervisor who may ignore the issue.
Have systems in place so that anonymous reports will be logged and hazards flagged and handled properly. Your organization will benefit when your team can make suggestions to improve workplace safety. Take it to the next level by making employees responsible for safety, conducting walkthroughs and stopping work if problems are discovered.
Beautiful safety manuals aren’t good enough to keep workers’ compensation, medical bills, and OSHA compliance costs down. You need to set up systems and maintain them to protect both your people and your company’s bottom line.