OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and it is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for workplace safety and health. To ensure compliance with OSHA standards, employers are required to conduct a hazard assessment and implement appropriate controls to eliminate or minimize risks to employees. Employers are often unaware of their obligations under OSHA regulations. Many companies believe they are exempt from these rules because they don’t have many workers exposed to hazardous conditions. However, even a small company can be fined if OSHA inspectors discover violations. If you’re interested in learning more about how to be OSHA-compliant, keep reading!
Why does OSHA Exist?
OSHA exists to ensure the protection of workers in every industry. Since its creation by the United States Congress and President Richard Nixon in 1970, OSHA has sought to make workplace safety a basic human right. Since its induction, these regulations have reduced the number of workplace injuries and deaths by 60% nationwide. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, including asbestos, machine guarding, benzene, lead, and dust. Most private-sector employers are required to comply with these regulations. Some states have their own OSHA-approved state plan for workplace safety. These regulations exist to protect employees, and employers must be aware of and comply with these rules.
How to Be OSHA Compliant
Employers have both a moral and legal responsibility to ensure a hazard-free, safe workplace. OSHA guidelines exist to help employers know safe limits for falls, safe exposure to chemicals, and more. Compliance with these laws means adhering to all applicable regulations relevant to your company’s industry. So how exactly does a worksite become compliant with OSHA regulations?
The first step is to analyze your worksite. Look for areas of your site that may be hazardous. Check OSHA’s regulations for specific hazards to be on the lookout for. Involve your employees in identifying workplace hazards, as they are the ones who experience them daily. Once you have identified the hazards in your worksite, remove the ones that are unnecessary to your operations. If you cannot remove them all, look for ways to mitigate employees’ exposure to hazards through PPE, signage, or required breaks.
The best way to ensure that employees will follow safety protocol is by giving them training that is both informative and frequent. It is not enough to just have safety procedures written down or posted on a wall. It has to be put into action. Implore employees to attend and participate in safety training exercises and give them a chance to practice the safety protocols outside of the worksite. Training is one of the best ways to ensure OSHA compliance.
Frequent Penalties to Avoid
Some violations are more frequent than others. Luckily, OSHA publishes a list of the most frequent citations so that employers can take steps to fix recognized hazards before OSHA inspectors show up at their worksites. Here are the ten most common OSHA violations from the past year.
- Fall Protection, construction. (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Respiratory Protection, general industry. (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Ladders, construction. (28 CFR 1926.1053)
- Hazard Communication, general industry. (29 CFR 1910.1200)
- Scaffolding, construction. (29 CFR 1926.451)
- Fall Protection Training, construction. (29 CFR 1926.503)
- Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry. (29 CFR 1910.147)
- Eye and Face Protection, construction. (29 CFR 1926.102)
- Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry. (29 CFR 1910.178)
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general industry. (29 CFR 1910.212)
Consequences for Failing to be OSHA Compliant
Failing an OSHA inspection can have severe repercussions for you and your company. Employers who receive citations for serious violations of any standard are subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation. For violations that are not considered severe, employers may still be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,000. Additionally, failure to correct a violation within the permitted period may also result in a $7,000 fine. Wilful or repeated violations of OSHA standards may result in a civil penalty of up to $70,000 per violation and up to 6 months of jail time. Complying with OSHA standards is imperative for the success of your business and the life of your employees.
Fixing and preventing hazards in the workplace can be challenging at times. Luckily, Work Health Solutions can help you develop a plan for OSHA compliance. Reach out today to learn more about our services!
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