Adhering to and implementing OSHA standards are important not only because it is the federal law, but it also ensures everyone’s safety and health at the workplace. It reduces business overhead associated with insurance costs, workers’ compensation, turnover rates, and employee absenteeism. Effectively executing and abiding by their standards and programs also helps with employee productivity and morale, as well as following policies and procedures.
In 2014 alone, 4,821 employees died at their workplace. “No one should have to sacrifice their lives for this livelihood because a nation built on the dignity of work must provide safe working conditions for its people,” Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency that was created in 1970 and is responsible for assisting and enforcing safety and health regulations in the workplace.
To assist in properly administering these standards, OSHA offers free health and safety consultations to small and medium-sized businesses. These complimentary consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in citations. In the fall of 2016, OSHA updated their Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines for the first time in 30 years which is intended to help employers in the modern day world.
In 2016, for the first time in a quarter of a century, OSHA fines increased. Not following regulations may result in fines and citations ranging from $650 up to $4,000 per violation. The maximum penalty for a willful violation is approximately $127,000. A violation may refer to a single incident but has also been applied to some businesses on a per employee basis.
In 2015, OSHA’S top five violations on a federal level were fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and lockout. In California, the top five violations were injury and illness prevention programs, heat illness prevention, hazard communication, lockout, and portable fire extinguishers. One of the industries that are most frequently cited is the restaurant and hospitality industry.
In addition to these recent changes and implementations, effective January 1, 2017, OSHA will require certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses forms. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to the workforce and the general public.
With recent updated and imminent future changes to OSHA regulations and programs, it is more important than ever to establish and maintain a culture of safety and health at the workplace. Consulting with OSHA’s services or having the workplace assessed by workers’ compensation or risk management experts to evaluate and guide the safety of the environment is a good start to a comprehensive safety and health program. Implementing a safety and health aspect into any new staff member’s training program, and ongoing safety training throughout the year will help to maintain a culture of safety.
Please contact us if we can assist you in setting up policies and procedures or any other solutions we offer.