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How OSHA Safety Violations Can Impact Your Business

Human Resources

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its top 10 OSHA violations report for 2017. The administration reports these OSHA safety violations in order by occurrence, and many appear on this list each year:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements: 6,072 violations
  2. Hazard Communication: 4,176
  3. Scaffolding: 3,288
  4. Respiratory Protection: 3,097
  5. Lockout/Tagout: 2,877
  6. Ladders: 2,241
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,162
  8. Machine Guarding: 1,933
  9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,523
  10. Electrical – Wiring Methods: 1,405

For insight, we asked Vaughn Moonan, HR Solutions Safety Manager at Paychex, to address some key concerns about safety for every business.

Why every business needs a safety program

Even if some of the violations on this list do not apply to your business, it's important that you take notice for two reasons:

  1. These are the top 10 OSHA safety violations where citations and fines are issued, but OSHA issues thousands of additional citations every year. They focus on areas common to all businesses such as poorly stocked first aid kits, lack of inspection of office ladders, electrical outlets without proper covers, or lack of training records on any applicable regulation.
  2. The top reason a business gets inspected by OSHA is not based on how hazardous the business activities are, but instead is based on employee complaints of unsafe conditions. No business is exempt from being inspected by OSHA, especially when a company terminates an employee who might later file a complaint about the work environment.

Two primary reasons for OSHA citations include lack of a written program for a regulated activity and lack of implementation. Some businesses believe that they are in compliance simply because they have a written safety program. However, a safety book alone will not fend off a citation in the event of an injury or incident.

OSHA citations

Tips for implementing your safety program

Once an appropriate and complete safety program is developed, the next step is to implement the program. It requires the following:

  1. Assign a team member to the responsibility of reviewing and implementing the program, and delegating safety program responsibilities accordingly.
  2. Provide training to the employees with actual and potential exposure to such activities. As you go through each program, make sure to document the training provided.
  3. Keep all necessary documentation, such as training attendance rosters and OSHA 300 logs, which are used to record workplace injuries or illnesses.
  4. Supervise employees to ensure they are performing activities as instructed by the company to reduce injury risk. If safety guidelines are not followed, take appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  5. Conduct periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions prior to an incident, such as:
    • Removing trip hazards like extension cords on the floor;
    • Clearing hallways for better accessibility; and
    • Inspecting fire extinguishers.

It’s also important to ensure machinery is working properly and is maintained in a safe operating condition, including proper protective guards.

  1. Review injuries and near misses (which are indicators of future injuries) by completing accident reports or investigations to determine the causes.

The end of year is a great time to evaluate your workplace safety program. Consider how well it helps protect your business and employees, and how it addresses compliance issues and specific OSHA requirements.

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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