How to Avoid the Most Common OSHA Violations

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Duty Clause in Section 5(a)(1), occupational businesses are lawfully required to provide a safe workplace that “is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees."

If you employ any individual, then this clause and this article on occupational safety applies to you.

For those looking for an easily accessible rundown on OSHA and how you can avoid OSHA violations and fines - from corporate footwear programs to employee communication and training plans - keep reading.


The 6 Possible OSHA Violations


To answer the question, “What is OSHA?” and understand it’s standards and regulations, you must first understand how the agency categorizes the different types of OSHA violations:

  • De Minimis – Merely a technical violation, it results in no fine or citation. Since it does not pose any immediate threat to employee safety or health, OSHA considers this type the least severe infraction.

  • Failure to Abate – Violators are typically given an allotted time range to remedy a faulty situation. Yet, those who fail to do so within the given time frame will be issued a Failure to Abate violation, along with the original, and a daily fine until resolved and standards are met.

  • Other-than-Serious – Issued for something safety or health-related but is not critical enough to cause severe harm or death. An example is failing to provide copies of safety regulations.

  • Repeat – Quite self-explanatory, it may be issued when a violation is similar or identical to a previously cited offense.

  • Serious – When an employer is intentionally negligent regarding workers’ safety or health, OSHA citations may be issued. Not providing safety toe footwear for employees who lift heavy items exemplifies a serious safety and health violation, where the employer knows of potential dangers yet does nothing to safeguard against hazards.

  • Willful – Intentionally disregarding OSHA rules or endangering employees will warrant the gravest class of violation. If it resulted in a death, it becomes a criminal offense with a six-digit fine per violation as well as possible prison time. An example is if a machine that previously caused workplace injuries was not fixed and later resulted in a fatal accident.

Regular inspection to ensure compliance with OSHA safety regulations can prevent accidents, violations that will infringe on your business’s productivity, and drains on your business’s bank account.


The Price of Noncompliance


Failure to adhere has a hefty price tag. Adjusted to the 2019 inflation rate, these are OSHA’s maximum penalties:

  • Serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements can incur up to $13,260 in fees.

  • Failing to remedy your violation and adhere to OSHA compliance regulations within your granted time frame (Failure to Abate) can cost you $13,260 per day past the date of abatement.

  • For a willful or repeated violation, you can face a whopping maximum of $132,598.

In addition to settling citation fines and penalties, your business can face further consequences.


Additional Repercussions of Noncompliance


Not taking your employees’ safety into consideration has far more drawbacks than you may expect. An accident or injury can:

  • Permanently affect the mobility and productivity of a worker

  • Halt or disrupt production

  • Result in legal costs for settlement claims on behalf of an injured worker

  • Reputational damage for the occupational entity


Top 10 OSHA Violations in the Workplace


While there are plenty of possible ways to breach OSHA guidelines, here are the top ten most frequently cited OSHA violations of 2019, direct from the national public health agency itself:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements: 6,010 violations

  2. Hazard Communication: 3,671

  3. Scaffolding: 2,813

  4. Lockout or Tagout: 2,606

  5. Respiratory Protection: 2,450

  6. Ladders: 2,345

  7. Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,093

  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,773

  9. Machine Guarding: 1,743

  10. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection: 1,411


Insight into Incident Prevention


Learn from the common offenses and implement the necessary protocols to avoid being on the receiving end of a similar violation.


Fall Protection – General Requirements


At the National Safety Council 2019 Congress & Expo, it was announced that fall protection was the leading cause for citation for the ninth consecutive year. For this reason alone, it is worth reading up on fall hazards to prevent yourself from making this common mistake.

A glance at the statistics confirms how pervasive and dangerous falls can be in the workplace:

  • There are over 300,000 workers a year that are injured as a result of a fall in their workplace.

  • According to the OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign, falls are the number one cause of death in the construction industry.

  • A National Safety Council report revealed that, in the United States alone, slips, stumbles, and tumbles were the cause of 44.5 million injuries, which then resulted in a loss of $967.9 billion for businesses.

If you review the list of the top ten common OSHA violations, you will notice that having proper personal protective equipment would have reduced the number of safety violations in each category. Specifically, requiring appropriate safety shoes can make all the difference. For example, both slip-resistant shoes for men and women's non-slip work shoes would prevent countless missteps.


Feet First


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each year, 60,000 foot injuries prevents people from going to work. And seeing as how every occupation, particularly the construction industry, requires mobility to some extent, everyone is vulnerable to foot injuries.

You may not be able to anticipate every accident, but promoting foot safety can diminish the probability of both injuries and accidents. While you surely would provide up-to-date and secure ladders, you should also do the same for gear your workers use daily.

With the Boot World Corporate Footwear Program, you can easily equip your workers with the protection they need and deserve. The safety program offers:

  • Employee Benefit Service – With a voucher program to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for workers and limit the headache for you, different payment plan options and discounts ensure safe footwear is affordable and accessible to all.

  • Mobile Footwear Store – Stocked trucks will come to your workplace to fit and service your employees without interrupting workflow. It also ensures your workers will leave with the footwear most suited for their work.

With over 40 years of experience and a vast assortment of top-of-the-line footwear, Boot World is a fruitful investment that gives you every reason to protect your business, workers, and bottom line.

Hazard Communication


OSHA also mandates that businesses must have a compliant Hazard Communication Plan. This consists of four main components:

  1. Written plan

  2. Warnings and labels where needed

  3. Material safety data sheets

  4. Hazard communication training

Essentially, you must assess and educate employees on where hazards are, how to handle them, and how to use protective equipment. Merely informing your workers will enable safer operations.


Scaffolding


Follow OSHA guidelines for scaffolds for optimal safety and to prevent violations:

  • Provide stools and ladders for safer ascents and descents.

  • Inspect for any dangerous gaps between the deck and planking.

  • Guarantee guardrails for any scaffolds over ten feet high.

  • Ensure scaffold is placed on a secure foundation.

  • Supply appropriate footwear to prevent slips and falls.


Lockout or Tagout


Lockout or Tagout protocol ensures that hazardous energy is not released during maintenance or service. Avoid a violation by:

  • Training employees on how to handle energy-isolating devices and the risks associated with it.

  • Purchase high-quality, durable equipment.

  • Frequently inspect energy sources, particularly new machinery.


Respiratory Protection


For those operating in an environment with unhealthy pollutants or insufficient oxygen, you are required to provide respirators.


Ladders


Exercise ladder safety:

  • Select the ladder that fits the job.

  • Do not exceed the maximum weight.

  • Use only stable surfaces.

  • Properly engage locks on the ladder.

  • Do not use damaged ladders.

  • Beware of electrical hazards.

  • Avoid usage of metal ladders near power lines or exposed electrical equipment.

Powered Industrial Trucks


Forklift accidents, in addition to falls, consistently place on OSHA’s list of common violations. Inherent with heavy machinery, uninformed or improper usage can result in grave repercussions. Workers should be licensed to operate forklifts, having met all the requirements and having received thorough training. Moreover, its usage should be clearly defined in terms of what areas and for what activities it is allowed.


Fall Protection – Training Requirements


Enforce mandatory fall protection training, including the four components of training requirements:

  • Awareness

  • Authorized user

  • Competent person

  • Qualified-person

Training every individual and maintaining detailed records of training will save you a fine, as well as encouraging suitable work shoes to deflect the possibility of falls.


Machine Guarding


Particular equipment requires guarding to ward off injury from moving parts and flying debris. Keep employees safe with guards, as well as with training on how to properly use the equipment. Also, make sure to maintain and replace guards when necessary.


Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment


A necessity for all occupations, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided for employees to protect them from illnesses and injuries. Be sure to adhere to the standards for PPE and training for your particular industry.

Above all, do not skimp on PPE. PPE, such as shoes, should be high-quality for the best performance and protection.


Prevent Don’t Repent


A majority of OSHA’s caveat is centralized around ensuring your workers are informed about dangers and how to operate safely. By educating them on potential hazards, they are better equipped to avoid dangerous situations and behaviors. And, by training them on how to respond should an emergency arise, the magnitude of consequences can be minimized.

The best way to avoid OSHA troubles is to heed this advice: adopt safeguards before an incident occurs. After gaining insight into what often ensnared a majority of offenders, it is undeniable that common oversights were due to a lack of preparation.

Accidents may not be wholly prevented, but they can be minimized. Directly implementing preventative measures such as safety protocols and investing in high-quality, high-performing protective gear equipment is vital for protecting your assets and employees.

If you are considering adopting a corporate footwear program for your business, reach out to the experts at Boot World. Boot World has been around for over 40 years, helping businesses from all backgrounds improve their work environments. With a vast assortment of top-of-the-line footwear - especially men’s and women’s safety shoes - and competitive pricing, the Boot World Corporate Footwear Program is the best way to protect both your employee’s feet and your business.


Sources:

Chron. Types of OSHA Violations. https://work.chron.com/types-osha-violations-10693.html

Device Magic. Top 10 OSHA Violations & How to Avoid Them. https://blog.devicemagic.com/top-osha-violations-and-how-to-avoid-them

Eastern Insurance. 6 Tips to Prevent OSHA Violations. https://www.easterninsurance.com/blog/entryid/10571/osha-tips-for-workplace-safety

IMEC Technologies. The Consequences of Non-Compliance with OSHA Regulations. http://www.imectechnologies.com/2018/08/24/the-consequences-of-non-compliance-with-osha-regulations/

Superior Glove. The Top 10 Ways to Avoid OSHA Violations. https://www.superiorglove.com/blog/top-10-osha-violations-avoid

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