Just because you began operating your business with safety and compliance with all OSHA regulations in mind doesn't mean that you can breathe easy and "take a break" from worrying about workplace safety. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, introduces new regulations on a regular basis, so it is important to stay on top of new regulations and make sure your business is compliant in a timely manner, or you will end up owing stiff fines.
Penalties for OSHA violations increased in August 2016 for the first time since 1990. Fines went up by a whopping 78.2%, and a violation that would have costed you $7,000 in 2014 will now cost $12,741, and a violation that once warranted a $70,000 fine now comes with a penalty of $124,709.
To keep your business funds and workers safe from the impact of broken OSHA regulations, follow these three tips.
1. Learn the Top-10 Cited OSHA Violations
OSHA keeps an up-to-date list of the 10 violations its workers are seeing in the field the most at all times, and keeping an eye on this list is an easy way to see which regulations may be the easiest to accidentally become non-compliant with.
In construction industries, the top three OSHA violations in 2015 were lack of fall protection devices, improper hazard communication (clear labeling of hazardous materials and chemicals and staff training in how to handle them safely), and lack of proper safety scaffolding.
In non-construction industries, the top three safety violations were improper hazard communication, lack of proper worker respiratory protection, and non-compliant lockout/tagout systems (proper control of hazardous energy).
Other commonly cited OSHA violations in 2015 included the use of powered industrial trucks that were improperly designed and/or used improperly, the use of unsafe ladders and/or too few ladders on site when necessary, use or installation of hazardous electrical wiring, improper guards in place to protect workers from hazardous machines, and other general electrical violations.
Use this knowledge to your benefit to avoid these violations, which are likely common simply due to the ease of becoming non-compliant without even realizing it.
2. Stay On Top of New OSHA Regulations
A new OSHA regulation just became active that requires all employers with 250 employees or more and employers in high-risk industries with 20-249 employees to submit information on employee illnesses and injuries electronically as well as in their existing log books. All injury and illness records from 2016 into the online database by July 1, 2017, and this information will then be made public for all to view. This provides potential employees, business competitors, and anyone who would like to see whether you are providing a safe place to work or not an easy way to see just how safe you keep your facility.
In addition, this regulation, which is a revised version of already existing regulation (29 CFR 1904), also requires all employers to inform employees that their reports will never be met with retaliation from the company.
While this is one of the newest OSHA regulations, there have likely been many more introduced since you opened your business. Keep on top of them all to stay OSHA compliant.
3. Seek the Help of a Safety Contractor On a Regular Basis
It can be difficult to stay ahead of all of the new safety regulations, including those introduced by OSHA, when you already spend so much time and energy just running your business and ensuring it is profitable. It can be a good idea to seek the help of a health and safety contractor who is well-versed in all OSHA, state, and local safety regulations and can examine your facility for violations quickly.
Along with the ability to spot these violations before they are spotted by OSHA inspectors and other workplace safety inspectors, health and safety contractors can also help you form a plan to get your business completely compliant with all safety regulations in a timely manner while sticking to a budget.
Once your safety contractor helps you get compliant with all current safety regulations, you can then have them stay in touch with you to notify you of new regulations and how you can implement them in an affordable way.
While your business may have been compliant with state, local, and OSHA regulations when you began it, that doesn't mean it still is. Hire a health and safety contractor to help you update your facility to the latest local and OSHA safety guidelines and rely on your contractor in the future to help you stay up to date to avoid injured workers and stiff penalties.
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