OSHA Enforcement Measures – The Year in Review
Professionals across every sector know the importance of complying with OSHA standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace conditions and safety, and violation of an OSHA rule can incur major consequences. At first glance, it may not seem that a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, when using a machine or a broken air conditioner in a work area are serious issues from a regulatory standpoint. In the eyes of OSHA, though, denying workers access to appropriate gear or subjecting them to a workplace that’s too hot can be cause for investigation and penalization. These measures are important to stakeholders in the safety industry because they demonstrate the compliance challenges companies most frequently face. By analyzing the latest OSHA enforcement measures, you can gain a better understanding of the top safety issues that you may need to address either on the products you produce or in your workplace. Read on as we break down 2019’s most notable workplace safety citations and fines.
2019’s OSHA Safety
Citations and Fines
Here’s a closer look at three of the year’s paramount OSHA enforcement measures:
to Require or Provide PPE
PPE is an imperative resource for any job where there is a defined risk of injury. The most common forms of PPE are specialized footwear, hard hats, eye protection, and hearing protection. When this equipment is not made available to employees, or employers do not enforce its use, personnel are needlessly put at risk of serious injury. In 2019, “PPE – eye and face protection” took the tenth spot on OSHA’s list of the year’s top ten safety violations. Some of the citations that OSHA issued for this violation include:
- $119,341 fined to a poultry processor in Mississippi
- $211,400 fined to a packaging manufacturer in Texas
- $212,158 fined to a contractor in Missouri
- $220,249 fined to a roofing company in Illinois
- $224,620 fined to a construction company in New York
- $274,215 fined to a roofing company in Florida
Most workplaces where PPE is necessary provide it to staff, but sometimes those personnel fail to comply with this requirement. Visible reminders of your worksite’s PPE requirement can help remind workers of the need for PPE at the point of interaction with hazard – ultimately keeping them safer and minimizing your risk of OSHA enforcement.
Hazards of Powered Industrial Trucks
Manufacturing facilities and warehouses commonly rely on powered industrial trucks, or PIT vehicles, to carry out essential operations. Some of the most common of these include forklifts, platform lifts, and tractors. Many employers require a license for PIT drivers, but even this cannot eliminate the risk that such equipment creates. These vehicles, if handled incorrectly, create safety violations that put all employees at risk. One machine hazard citation from OSHA cost a Wisconsin company $782,526. Unsurprisingly, “powered industrial trucks” landed on OSHA’s 2019 violations list at number seven. Employee training, supplemented by forklift safety labels and signs to reinforce safety rules, is a critical part of keeping forklift operators and bystanders out of harm’s way.
Trip and Fall Risks
OSHA records for 2019 show that falls and conditions putting employees at risk of falling are common reasons for citations and fines. In fact, “fall protection – general requirements” topped OSHA’s 2019 list of safety violations as it did in 2018. Numerous companies were negligent in protecting staff from this risk, with varying outcomes for personnel. Some of the most severe injuries and fines for this hazard were handed out in the following sectors:
- Construction: Perhaps unsurprisingly, construction companies were the most common violators for putting workers at risk of falling. As contractors climb scaffolding and work high above the ground, proper precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. Contractors in Nebraska, Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey, Maine, Florida, New York, West Virginia, Colorado, and Ohio all received citations and fines from OSHA in 2019.
- Roofing: Roofing is known to be one of the most dangerous professions because of the risk of falls, but there are preventative measures that every professional in this field can and must take. Unfortunately, several roofing companies failed to take these measures and caused workers to fall, including some accidents which were fatal. OSHA fined and cited roofers in Ohio, Florida, and Illinois for this violation.
- Retail: Retail can be dangerous, too, as this
past year there were citations related to improper storage of boxes, forcing
employees to use ladders in a way that caused several falls and injuries.
Falls in the workplace are often preventable. Some of the most effective ways to minimize this risk include cleaning up any spills immediately after they occur, keep storage low to the ground whenever possible and ensuring staff are trained in proper ladder use. Slip, trip and fall signage reminding employees of these tactics can encourage safe behavior and mitigate the risk of injury and OSHA citation.
Keep in mind, if safety is out of sight, and out of mind, you may be putting your company at risk of an OSHA citation – and worse, putting people at risk of injury. That’s why it’s necessary to properly assess and identify risks, and take the appropriate steps to mitigate or warn about those risks. Investing in the safety is important for the people who use your equipment, your workers, and the future of your company. To be prepared, be sure to take a look at what to expect from OSHA’s 2020 regulatory agenda, and reach out to us today to see how we can help with your safety project.