1. An Ohio based manufacturer was fined $1.2 million by OSHA on account of numerous safety violations
2. Learn the different ways that you can ensure that you safeguard your business' profitability and productivity through actionable tasks such as:
- Securing safety buy-in
- Auditing your workplace
- Emphasizing hazard communication
Can OSHA shut down a company? No, but they can order you to stop your work under reasonable circumstances. For any business, that can cause a detrimental loss of productivity. A poor safety program is never a good thing, and it's even worse when the company in question has been the cause of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. This will affect your performance in a negative way regardless of any workaround that you try to implement. Bad safety practices will always have a negative impact on your company's reputation, reduce productivity, and put you in situations where you are subject to legal ramifications. All of these factors can put a dent in your bottom line and deter you from achieving your future goals. In the case of an Ohio manufacturer, they were served a truly devastating hit to their performance and profitability. Their story serves as a cautionary tale for any other organization who may be slacking or negligent in their safety program. The outcome of the incidents experienced are measurable and tangible implications that could very well occur to any other company.
On October 27 2022, they were issued an OSHA fine stated at $1.2 million. This was due to being cited for 8 willful violations, 6 serious violations, 1 repeat violation, and single other-than-serious violation. To make matters worse, they were also placed in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program.
The lesson here is that complacency and negligence have no place in safety. If you want your business to sustainably thrive, it is of the utmost importance that you place safety first. A lack of attention to safety can lead to severe financial repercussions, severe injury or even death, and a damaged reputation for a business.If you want to establish the best safety program of your own, what can you do to ensure that you never end up in a situation where you are not able to react accordingly?
Secure Safety Buy-In
Arguably the first step towards sustainable safety, securing safety buy-in at all levels of the company is one of your most vital steps. If your organization lacks a culture of safety, what’s the point of doing anything else? Naturally, different levels and positions at a company will have differing perceptions and priorities in regards to safety. For example, a site supervisor may have higher stakes in safety than a temporary worker at the same company. The key is to ensure that you receive equal buy-in from both for your safety program to actually work.
Management and workers need to work together in harmony to create a thriving safety culture at the workplace, if either party is missing, then nothing will get done. Management’s buy-in is significant because it signals to the rest of the company that safety is a vital part of success. It sets an example for the workers, and lays out expectations for how work is conducted. On the other hand, safety buy-in of workers ensures that you don’t have to police them, and that they take on safety as a personal and collective responsibility that they value and proactively implement in their daily tasks.
Regularly Audit Your Workplace
Even the safest workplace is still prone to hazards. When dealing with heavy machinery, specialized equipment or chemicals, it is almost inevitable. However, it is still important that you mitigate and reduce the potential of these hazards wherever you can. Having regular and frequent checkups in your workplace will ensure that you’re always in compliance with government regulations and safety standards. Your audit should account for aspects of your workplace such as machinery, layout, and chemical handling. For example, check that all your machinery is machine-guarded and is in good working order. Audit your worksite layout and ensure that proper railing, emergency exits, lighting fixtures, and so on are all properly implemented. If you deal with specialized materials and chemicals, ensure that you audit your material handling processes, onsite disposals/collections, and washing stations.
Emphasize Hazard Communication
Safety coaching in the workplace can make all the difference to the outcome of your efforts. Your workers not only have the right to know about hazards, but they also have the right to understand them. This keeps them safe and ensures that they don’t fall into incidents that could get you in trouble with OSHA. The first step in hazard communication is acknowledging that your workforce consists of different levels of experience, risk tolerance, and job functions. What follows is then determining how you plan to communicate hazards in a manner that ensures that your entire workforce understands what to do and not do to keep themselves and others safe. Below are just a few examples of how you can communicate hazards to your workforce:
When hiring contractors, you can make hazard communication part of your onboarding package. This would require contractors to go through training materials that inform and educate them on the hazards they are expected to run into on the job, and how to safeguard themselves in the process.
Not only is safety signage greatly beneficial, but it is also required by law. Ensure that you have set up-to-standard signage in your workplace that informs workers where potential hazards lie, what the hazards are, and what must be done to ensure safety.
Make Information Available:
Ensure that all hazard information is easily accessible by those most likely to be affected by it. For example, if you use contractors to complete projects, utilize contractor management software to give them pertinent information on what they need to understand. If an individual worker needs more clarification on a certain hazard, they should be able to speak with their supervisor or a site manager to clear any doubts. Either way, this information should be granted easily to anyone who needs it.
The story of the Ohio based manufacturer should serve as a cautionary tale for all other companies who may be neglecting their safety program. Furthermore, it serves as a reason for safety conscious companies to continue to strive to improve their safety. The fact of the matter is, anyone can get hit with an OSHA fine, what’s important is what steps you take to mitigate risk for yourself and your workers, and how to react accordingly when risk does arise.
If your workforce consists of contractors and you’re struggling with your safety program, now is the time to implement contractor management software into your strategy. Contractor Compliance can help you get your safety in track so you get to keep OSHA away and focus on running a productive business.