Every year in Florida, employers face the law’s wrath for violating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. Some get off the hook while others are fined or convicted. It doesn’t have to end that way if you are an employer.
You just need to familiarize yourself with OSHA’s provisions. Strangely though, many employers still get it wrong in Florida. Here’s a list of the top 10 most common OSHA violations in Florida.
1. Ignoring Industrial Hygiene Issues
Companies focus on physical safety at the expense of hygiene. A relatable, though, arguably a separate issue, is failing to set up a system to monitor and document safety and employees’ health issues. Surprisingly, this is sometimes as simple as ensuring you have decent washrooms at the workplace.
2. Failure to Enforce Safety Rules
Safety rules and procedures at any workplace must be duly published, understood, enforced, and accepted by both employers and employees. Compliance, in this case, must cut across the board from the CEO to junior staff.
Be sure to document your enforcement measures and efforts. In the unfortunate event, an employee gets hurt while breaking safety rules, OSHA will want you to prove that you take your own rules seriously enough to discipline employees who violate them.
Remember, it isn’t just enough for you as an employer to set up pretty safety manuals. Ensure compliance by all means, even if you have to monitor your staff constantly. Ultimately, failure to abide by written safety programs is worse than not having one at all.
Such a move can easily lead to willful citations.
One common mistake here is the failure to enforce the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Many employers are good at figuring out the requisite PPEs needed. Many go the extra mile to make sure they have all the PPEs needed but become lousy at making sure their staff members use them.
At Sternberg / Forsythe, we understand how it feels to suffer work-related injuries due to your employer violating OSHA violations. Call us today at (561) 220-2441. Let us fight for your justice and compensation in court.
3. Failure to Take a Systematic Approach towards Safety
Never assume safety will happen automatically. It is incumbent upon you as an employer to plan. Invest in an efficient building management system to keep yourself and your employees safe. An OSHA officer can quickly tell if you have complied with safety requirements. Ask yourself if you are doing enough to prevent illnesses and injuries. You must show an OSHA officer how vital safety is to you and what you are doing about it.
4. Failure to Use Appropriate Engineering Controls
OSHA wants you as an employer to make the workplace entirely safe for your employees. Unfortunately, many employers do the exact opposite. They try to make their employees safe for the workplace.
During an inspection, OSHA will be keen to see if you have made concerted and reasonable efforts to use engineering controls, especially for noise and other notable health hazards. Note that excessive reliance on PPEs rubs OSHA the wrong way.
5. Failure to Conduct Safety Audit
Conduct routine safety audits. That way, you can identify serious hazards and take appropriate measures. Fail to do this, and OSHA will come calling. You encourage OSHA to slap you with a willful citation whenever you discover a serious safety or health hazard and do nothing about it. Act before it is too late.
6. Failure to Control Flow of Information Before, During and After an Inspection
This is easy, but many employers still don’t get it. Once OSHA begins an inspection, don’t hand over any information they haven’t asked for. Be sure to keep tabs on everything you submit to them. Losing control over information flow can hurt you at the end of the investigation when you’re preparing to settle.
Don’t withhold any document OSHA requests from you without a good reason. Another common mistake is to carry out an internal investigation on your own, without according your employees the benefit of lawyer-client privilege. Conduct your own investigation without this prerogative, and you certainly can’t protect it from the federal government.
Don’t let a negligent employer get away with an OSHA violation. Contact Scott J. Sternberg Associates. Call us today at (561) 220-2441.
7. Failure to Correct Cited Hazards
In Florida, one of the surest ways to invite fines, further citations, and a possible conviction is to fail to correct hazards OSHA has cited. It gets worse when you ignore commonly cited risks. Remember that in lawsuits, it is always about the ‘good faith’ principle.
You must show what you did to address and avert a known hazard. Fail to do this, and you’re the bad guy. Lockout/Tagout, electrical hazards, slips, falls, and trips are all perfect examples of frequently cited OSHA violations.
8. Inaccurate OSHA Logs
When dealing with an OSHA inspector, the most important thing is to make sure you have kept your files. Keep the OSHA 300 log as well as the 301 forms separate from other records OSHA does not require for documenting an injury.
In simple words, medical records and internal correspondence go into different files. Do this, and you will look organized. Remember, your OSHA 300 log is the first thing an OSHA officer will ask for, during an inspection. Have it or get in trouble.
The rule here is simple. Don’t tell lies. It is the absolute thing you can do during an OSHA inspection following an accident. Lying in such circumstances is a felony. It is also one of the leading causes of criminal prosecution in OSHA violation cases.
Think about it this way. An OSHA violation is, in itself, one of the worst misdemeanors. So you commit a felony all in the name of escaping a misdemeanor. It is not worth it.
10. Ignoring or Retaliating Employees who Raise Safety Concerns
Ignoring the safety concerns raised by employees is an easy way to provoke an OSHA inspector. OSHA officials always seek to determine if a concern raised by an employee had been raised at the workplace. This is why it is essential to encourage employees to participate in safety efforts and to document their participation.
Showing records of activities like regular or scheduled meetings of employee safety committees, and employee participation in such meetings can help you prove that your company takes safety and employee participation seriously.
Negligence because of an employer violating OSHA provisions can be costly. At Sternberg / Forsythe, we have practiced long enough to make sure such employers are held accountable. Call us today at (561) 220-2441.