3 Easy Ways to Improve Your OSHA Compliance and Avoid Fines

Published 02-07-2018

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined film production company Stalwart Films $12,675 for failing to protect its workers in connection with the death of “Walking Dead” stuntman John Bernecker last July, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 33-year-old Bernecker, an experienced stunt coordinator whose previous work on over 90 productions included such films as “The Hunger Games” movies, “Logan,” and the upcoming “Black Panther,” died of a head injury after falling 22 feet onto a concrete floor. He was supposed to land on padding formed by layers of boxes, but he failed to get good separation from the balcony and missed a railing he attempted to grab to abort the fall, and he missed the padding by inches. It took 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and a half hour for him to be airlifted for medical attention. Stalwart Films is protesting the fine.

Accidents like this are tragic for all involved, and for companies facing OSHA fines, they can be expensive as well. Serious and other-than-serious posting violations can cost $12,934 per violation, while failure to abate can cost that amount per day, and willful or repeated violations can cost $129,336 per violation. Fortunately, the vast majority of fines can be avoided by following some simple preventive measures. Here are three easy best practices you can follow to improve your OSHA compliance and avoid expensive fines.

Take Fall Prevention Measures

Fall protection violations such as those Stalwart Films is facing account for the biggest percentage of OSHA violations. Fall-related injuries can result from workers slipping on spills or loose mats or falling from one level to another. Workers in industries such as construction which involve climbing on roofs are at the most risk.

To avoid falls, OSHA recommends taking some basic preventive fall protection measures. Keep floors clean, dry and free of obstructions, and make sure workers know where to find cleaning supplies to immediately attend to spills. Use guard rails and toe-boards to secure areas around holes and elevated floors, platforms and runways. Include safety planning into job planning and cost estimates for projects involving fall hazards, and provide workers with proper safety equipment such as harnesses and nets, as well as training on how to use equipment properly.

Clearly Communicate Hazard Information

Another top OSHA violation category is hazard communication standard violations. This involves failure to inform workers about the dangers of working with hazardous chemical materials.

To promote compliance with hazard communication standards, OSHA requires all chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate product safety according to official hazard classification standards and to provide labels and data sheets to convey hazards to their customers. Employers should have these labels and data sheets on hand for their exposed workers and should train workers how to handle chemicals safely.

Schedule Regular Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

Failure to keep vehicles and equipment in proper condition can also contribute to workplace accidents. Faulty parts on vehicles or faulty wiring on electrical equipment can easily cause serious injuries or death.

OSHA requires employers not to operate vehicles without following vehicle maintenance procedures, which include complying with federal regulations for inspection, repair and maintenance. Similar regulations apply to equipment. The best way to comply with these requirements is to schedule regular maintenance for all vehicles and equipment. For example, all o-rings should be checked regularly and replaced when needed to make sure they’re in proper working condition. For machines, make sure all safety guards are in place and in proper condition.

OSHA violations can be costly, but they can be prevented by being proactive. Taking basic fall prevention, hazard communication, and vehicle and equipment maintenance measures will help improve your OSHA compliance and avoid many of the most common violations. Depending on the nature of your business, other OSHA regulations may apply to your situation. If you need additional help, small and medium-sized businesses are eligible for a free and confidential on-site OSHA consultation. Contact your local OSHA office to request a consultation.

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