What Are OSHA's Violations and Regulations?
When running a workplace, you have to hire the right people and make sure they can do the work. But you also need to consider OSHA violations and how to avoid them. Not only will avoiding violations save your company money, but you can protect your employees. Then, you can reduce turnover rates and build an excellent team. Keep reading to learn about OSHA violations and fines and how you can protect yourself and your employees.
What Is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an organization that the US government runs. It ensures healthy and safe working conditions for employees throughout the country. By setting and enforcing standards, OSHA can carry out its job of protecting workers. OSHA also can set standards for bloodborne pathogens training, education, assistance, and outreach to companies. That way, employers can make sure they avoid OSHA violations. The organization also fines companies that don't comply with OSHA regulations. While violations have been on the decline, OSHA still conducts inspections to make sure employers follow the rules. Without OSHA, employers wouldn't have any accountability. They could provide unsafe, toxic working conditions. OSHA keeps these companies accountable, which protects workers in various industries, from health care to construction.
Most Common OHSA Violations
Whether you're an employer or employee, you should consider some of the most common OSHA violations. Being able to recognize violations is essential for protecting workers. If an employee can recognize the problem, they can bring the issue up. That means they won't have to worry about waiting until the next OSHA inspection. Employers should also know common violations so that they can avoid them in the first place. Then, companies won't have to pay as much in OSHA fines.
OSHA has Standard 1910.1200, which aims to prevent employee injuries due to chemical exposure. Employers need to train their employees on the hazards of certain chemicals. You can use a written hazard communication program, which can help teach employees to be safe. Companies need to maintain safety data on the use of hazardous substances in the workplace. Employers should label materials correctly and teach employees how to use materials. An employer should also provide gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees should also know how to use PPE correctly to protect themselves and others from chemicals. After a change to the standard in 2012, manufacturers and importers have to classify hazards of chemicals they produce or bring in. that way, employers and employees can take the right precautions.
The Lockout/Tagout Standard 1910.147 helps protect employees from injuries from machines. If a machine is on during maintenance, the machine could hurt the worker. Issues could include accidentally turning the "on" switch and activating a mixer or shocking the employee when turning the device on. Not having some sort of protection is one of many OSHA violations. You should use lockout or tagout devices to prevent such injuries in the workplace. Lockout and tagout devices both work, but a tagout will also include a label telling employees to remove the device before operating the machine. Then, no one will be confused when they try to use a machine and it doesn't turn on. However, a lockout device can be just as effective as long as employees remember to take it off when they don't need it.
Falls are another common work injury, and violating Standard 1926.501 means companies aren't protecting their workers from falls. The standard requires the use of fall protection systems when workers are six feet or higher off the ground. Fall protection systems include safety nets, safety harnesses, guard rails, and hole covers. These protections are also important when an employee is on the ground but near a hole, but a hole cover can prevent such falls. There are many opportunities for workers to fall, such as off of a tall building. Even on the ground, workers can fall into or off of equipment. Fall protection isn't just for workers who are higher up. Employers need to provide fall protection to anyone who's at risk of falling at least six feet during their work.
Fall Protection Training
In addition to fall protection, employers also need to provide fall protection training. This training falls under Standard 1926.503, and it requires employers to train all employees who may be at risk of falls. The training should cover how to understand the risks of falling and how to avoid injuries. Employers should use paper records to track who receives this training and who needs it. While it may seem that fall protection is enough, training is just as crucial. That way, employees can understand how to use different types of fall protection equipment. If an employee doesn't understand, they may still be at risk of an accident after falling. By training all of your employees, you can make sure everyone stays as safe as possible, and you can avoid OSHA violations and fines.
A more specific type of fall, Standard 1926.1053 covers the use of ladders. In construction, employees can use different types of ladders, such as fixed and portable ladders. But even health care workers can be at risk of falling off of step ladders, which the standard also covers. If a nurse or dental hygienist needs to reach the top shelf but is too short, they may use a step ladder. Because of that, employers need to follow OSHA standards. Ideally, that would mean eliminating the need for ladders. However, sometimes, you need to use the top shelf for storing items. And you may not have someone tall enough who is always available to grab those items for you. In that case, you should make sure ladders are as safe as possible to use in the workplace.
Eye and Face Protection
OSHA Standard 1926.102 covers eye and face protection requirements for workers. Such protection is especially important when working with chemicals, particles, and other hazardous materials. In the health care field, using a face shield can help protect against blood and other bodily fluids that may fly out of a patient. A pair of goggles can also help protect the eyes of a full face shield isn't necessary. Using a mask is also important when working with patients. Employees can use one to protect their noses and mouths, so they can avoid catching or giving germs to patients. The protection employees use should be suitable for the tasks they're doing. So have different equipment on hand for different tasks.
Respiratory protection is another common OSHA violation, and it is Standard 1910.134. It requires employers to protect workers against dust, fumes, vapor, gases, and other sprays. After enough exposure to those things, workers can develop respiratory problems, so employers must provide respirators. That way, employees don't have to worry about breathing in contaminated air as they do their work. Companies should consider what type of respirator is necessary and provide that to each employee who needs it. Employers also need to train workers on how to use the equipment so that they can use and maintain the gear correctly. After the initial training, employers also need to follow up with employees to monitor the workplace and ensure the proper use of respirators.
What Employers Must Do
Employers should do everything they can to avoid OSHA violations. The main reason for this is to provide a safe workplace for employees. Along with providing a safe space, employers should also display OSHA signs that state official requirements. Signs should include injury and illness data and should also include OSHA citations. Companies should also inform workers about the risks of their job through training and alarms, among other options. The information should be in a language the employee understands so that they do know the risks. Employers also can't retaliate against workers who use their rights under the law. And companies must provide PPE to workers for no additional cost.
What Rights Employees Have
When considering what rights employees have, consider that they have the right to confidential complaints. They can ask OSHA to inspect their workplace to find OSHA violations. Employees also have a right to copies of results from health and safety tests in the workplace. That way, they can know if the company is following OSHA regulations. And when OSHA does inspect the workplace, employees have a right to participate and to speak with the inspector in private. That allows employees to outline any complaints they have without going to their boss. If an employer retaliates against employees who report OSHA violations, those employees have a right to complain to OSHA. Employers should make sure employees understand these rights.
As of January 15, 2021, the penalties for OSHA violations start at $13,653. This penalty applies to any serious violations or other-than-serious posting requirements. A failure to abate violation will result in the same penalty, but it applies per day. So, two days of violations would amount to $27,306. After 10 days, the employer would owe $136,530. This is about the same as the penalty for willful or repeated violations, which is $136,532.
The Importance of OSHA Violations
OSHA violations are a big deal for employees and employers. Not following health and safety standards can put employees in danger and make them get hurt or sick. Knowing what OSHA violations and regulations are can help everyone avoid violations and penalties. And everyone can keep working and feeling good. Do you need OSHA training? View our courses and enroll in one today.