It always generates headlines when a company is hit with a big OSHA fine, but we rarely hear about all of the cases when OSHA investigates and determines there was no safety violation. Here’s one recent case that offers important lessons to safety professionals.
On March 22, AK Steel in Middletown, Ohio received a letter from OSHA saying the agency had received complaints of a number of safety violations, including “welders have no certification to weld or pressure pipes, structures, railings, etc.” and “no welding logs are being kept for certifications purposes,” according to the local Journal News. The letter gave the company one week to respond. Continue reading “When OSHA Calls: Why Recordkeeping Is So Important”
OSHA has delayed the actual electronic reporting requirements of its injury and illness reporting rule change, but that doesn’t mean companies can just forget about complying with the rule. That’s because, while the electronic portion was to go into effect in July, the parts of the rule that prohibit discouraging or punishing workers who try to report injuries are already in effect. A new court ruling shows whistle-blower provisions like the ones in the rule have real teeth in them.
Continue reading “Why You Can’t Ignore OSHA’s Injury Reporting Rule…Even If It Is Delayed.”
As oil and gas enters its fourth year of downturn, there are a lot of safety trends to be concerned about – the impact of cuts; an overworked, overstressed workforce; and training new workers once business picks up to name a few. Here’s a new one: things are wearing out. Continue reading “Next Trend in Oil & Gas Safety – Rust Never Sleeps”
OSHA says it will postpone its upcoming deadline for companies to report injuries and illnesses through an online form. About 450,000 companies would have had to comply on July First if the rule was not delayed. Not really surprising that the agency announced the delay, since it never went live with the online form that companies needed to use to make the reports and there is still no one in charge of OSHA. Continue reading “Breaking: OSHA Delays Electronic Injury Reporting”
Companies have been watching OSHA closely to see what direction the agency takes under the new administration. Between rollbacks of regulations and threatened budget cuts, there is a good chance OSHA will be less aggressive in the future. But there are clear signs that OSHA may be the least of a company’s worries if there is a serious accident. Continue reading “Cited By OSHA? It May Only Be the Start Of Your Troubles.”
The saying in oil and gas these days is “lower for longer,” meaning we are going to have to get used to lower prices and learn how to be profitable. Recently the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement weighed in with a very pointed warning to industry to not let lower prices result in lower safety levels. Continue reading “BSEE Warns Industry on Safety During Downturn”
American businesses spend more than $1 billion a week on workplace injuries, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Injury Survey. A company that can’t get injuries under control may pay for it in:
- Higher workers comp costs,
- Increased OSHA recordables, which may threaten their ability to work for customers,
- Lost productivity, and
- potentially higher health care costs if injuries manifest themselves in other health problems.
No wonder so many businesses worry about injuries. But there is a difference between worrying and doing something about it. The key is to put a management system in place to prevent and reduce the impact of injuries. Recently we developed a paper that identifies steps companies can take to start managing injuries in an effective, systematic way.
The deadline for companies to comply with OSHA’s new requirement for electronic injury and illness reporting is July first. That’s when the regulations say many American companies must submit their injury and illness logs electronically. The change will allow OSHA to post company injury data online where it will be accessible to the public.
Just one problem. Continue reading “New OSHA E-injury reports due in 45 days, but there is one little problem.”
As we try to make jobs safer, we focus most of our attention on the “workplace” – the office, the factory, the construction site. However, we need to remind ourselves that the workplace is really anywhere people work, especially on the road. That was made graphically clear by news from Louisiana on April 13th when a fuel truck hit a dump truck on I-310 near Luling. The dump truck driver died and the tanker driver was injured. It was all caught on a passing driver’s dashcam. Continue reading “Tanker Explosion Caught on Video: Workplace Injuries Happen Wherever We Work”
It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but companies have just under one month to train workers in the new OSHA General Industry Walking Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards. The regulation was released last November. Parts of it took effect at the start of the year, but the training requirements kick in on May 17th.
You can read an overview of the new standard here. OSHA says the rule incorporates advances in technology, industry best practices, and national consensus standards, as well as giving employers more flexibility about implementing some worker protections.
Training: The training provisions say employers must make sure that any workers who use personal fall protection and work in other specified high hazard situations are trained on the fall and equipment hazards, including fall protection systems. They must be retained if there is a change in the workplace or the employee appears to lack skills and knowledge.
Training must be done by a qualified person and must show them how to identify and minimize fall hazards; use personal fall protection systems and rope descent systems; and maintain, inspect, and store equipment or systems used for fall protection.
Safety Stand-down: As it happens, OSHA is holding a safety stand-down to prevent falls in construction from May 8-12. The website for the stand-down has a wealth of information about participating and general fall protection material. Even though it is focused on construction and the changes in the standard apply to general industry, it is a valuable resource.
What If Companies Ignore The Requirement?: That is always a challenge with new OSHA deadlines. There is always a chance that OSHA will call on a facility and ask to see training records as a part of the inspection. But the real risk for companies is if there is an incident. Falls are the leading cause of death in construction and the most cited violation. The change in the general industry standard closely tracks construction.
In other words, falls are an ever-present danger in the workplace. An employer who ignores the new standard and has an incident is liable to be cited for the incident, failing to update to the standard and failing to adequately train workers. Considering the increase in penalty levels that went into effect lasts year, ignoring this update is an expensive gamble.