OSHA Cracks Down As 2009 Comes To An End
Proposed Fines Total A Hefty $2,176,300 In December
As talk has had it in recent months, OSHA seems to be cracking the whip on workplace safety. In December, OSHA fined 18 companies totaling $2,176,300 for various safety violations.
Recent studies show that businesses are cutting back on their safety programs in these tough economic times. In addition to the cutbacks in safety, a reduced workforce is pushed to produce more creating additional stress. In order to meet the increased demand, workers often take short cuts and increase the risk potential.
Companies going down this path may find themselves facing increased workers injuries and opening a Pandora’s Box for insurance increases and a visit from OSHA.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that OSHA is “using an influx of new inspectors to crack down on businesses with workplace safety violations. The Chronicle cites 31 new staff appointments in the southeast region alone, with most in enforcement.
Furthermore, says the Chronicle, “Lawyers specializing in labor and employment issues are warning their business clients to be ready.”
At October’s National Safety Congress, OSHA released the list of their 10 most frequently violated standards, and announced that there had been an unprecedented increase in reported violations for virtually all of them this past year. And the GAO (Government Accountability Office) just released a study showing that these numbers grossly under-report actual workplace accidents and injuries.
The disturbing rise in violations appears to be evidence that many companies that have had to make cuts to their budgets significantly reduced the money that they spent on safety training.
Looking at the big picture, it is clear that a pro-active approach to preventing accidents and injuries (providing good quality training on how to work safely) as opposed to reacting to incidents after they occur makes much more financial sense.
OSHA is very aware that one of the very first things to go in a bad economy is safety programs. As a result, OSHA will have safety departments, training departments, and short cuts under the microscope. Don’t get caught with your safety down.
As tempting as it is to cut back on safety, one must ask themselves… can we really afford to?