Every business works hard to avoid injuries and serious accidents. Accidents not only harm employees, but also negatively impact the business. In addition to suffering lost time and income from a productive employee, a business might be subject to an OSHA inspection and possible fines if it is determined that they were not following proper safety practices and procedures. Even though OSHA visits place additional financial and time constraints on businesses, sometimes they are required, as in the case with a serious injury or fatality. OSHA’s job is to make sure the business operations are structured to avoid recurrences of the same accident. In many situations, however, OSHA visits can be avoided if the company follows proper procedures in reporting the accidents and injuries. According to the head of Cal/OSHA’s heat illness unit, here are six things that will “attract” an OSHA visit:
- Not responding to OSHA letters, complaints or phone calls. It may take a while, but OSHA will take the lack of response as an invitation to set up an inspection.
- Not reporting a serious injury or fatality, or reporting it late. That’s an automatic penalty of $5,000 and tells OSHA you probably have other problems as well.
- Not complying with a document request. Another “red flag” that tells OSHA you either have something to hide, or you don’t have a required document.
- Being unaware of an Injury Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) requirement. The IIPP has been required by law for over 20 years. All employees are required to be aware of it. Lack of knowledge by employees or your management staff is a sure fire way to attract more scrutiny from OSHA.
- Providing a generic IIPP. If you don’t have an IIPP and provide a version you printed off the internet, don’t be surprised if you get fined, especially if it doesn’t have your company name on it.
- Ignoring OSHA regulations for your industry. OSHA will look for safety violations that are particular to your industry. In agriculture, the heat illness program needs to be in place, employees need to be trained and copies of required documents need to be in field locations. Also, water and shade violations are easy targets for fines.
Western Growers Insurance Services has fully trained safety and claims staff who are familiar with OSHA requirements. If you would like assistance with your safety training or programs, contact Greg Nelson for further assistance at (949) 885-2287.
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