Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OSHA Violations & Inspections

As we move into the new year it might be a good time to discuss OSHA inspections, fines, and their most frequently cited violations.

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards in fiscal year 2008:

The following are the standards for which OSHA assessed the highest penalties in fiscal year 2008:

What’s the penalty for violating an OSHA standard?

OSHA penalties range from $0 to $70,000, depending upon how likely the violation is to result in serious harm to employees. Other-than-serious violations often carry no penalties but may result in penalties of up to $7,000. Serious violations may have penalties up to $7,000. Repeat and willful violations may have penalties as high as $70,000. Penalties may be discounted if an employer has a small number of employees, has demonstrated good faith, or has few or no previous violations.

Preparing for an OSHA Inspection.

There are four basic steps to preparing for an OSHA inspection:

  • 1. Be in Compliance
  • 2. Assign and train primary and backup individuals to oversee inspection with the OSHA Inspector.
  • 3. Train “first contact” personnel, such as Counter clerks; Receptionist; Secretary. Have a list of people for them to contact, in order of priority. Teach them to be courteous and professional. Tell them to speak very little, but make it clear they cannot lie or mislead an inspector.
  • 4. Have the assigned responsible primary or backup person:
    • Ask for credentials (if not offered)
    • Ask for specific reason and scope of the inspection
    • Request opening conference (if not offered)
    • Have a digital camera ready (to take photos of anything the inspector takes photos of)
    • Be familiar with company history (any previous inspections; the OSHA 300 log; workers comp. claims, etc., etc.).
    • Write down all suggestions and comments by inspector (make immediate corrections if possible).
    • Do not offer any information that is not requested!
    • Do not lie of mislead the inspector in any way!
    • Stay with the inspector at all times. Never leave them alone in your facility!

Remember the best way to avoid citations, penalties and fines, is to get into compliance and stay in compliance.

For more information about OSHA please obtain the free workbook and DVD program entitled "Introduction to OSHA."

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