Prior to the founding of the OSHA in 1971, 14,000 workers died on the job each year versus today’s average of just over 4,000 annually. There is no denying OSHA’s safety regulations work, but enterprises often see them as a costly nuisance, not a blessing.
What do businesses fear? Fines.
- Last year, when a worker was killed on the job, the average fine from OSHA was approximately $7,000 — though that figure was reduced to around $5,000 due to settlements.
- This year, OSHA has increased fines for the first time since 1990, and will raise its penalties for health and safety violations in the workplace.
Rising Fines and Other Changes
Penalties from OSHA are increasing — in some instances up to 80% — as the agency vows to align fine increases with inflation rates. The idea is that the penalty increases will allow changes from OSHA to focus more on major issues and less on minor citations.
But, there are other changes in place this year, all with a focus on worker safety and compliance.
OSHA’s top 3 changes in 2017 include requiring:
- Electronically submitted injury and illness data: The new rule will “nudge” employers to be diligent in preventing work injuries to show stakeholders and the public that they operate a safe facility.
- Slip, trip, and fall hazard protection: This rule updates the walking, working, and surfaces standards by increasing workplace protection to prevent slip, trip, and fall hazards.
- A standard to prevent workplace violence in health care and social assistance settings: Although no standard has been set, OSHA has taken steps to address the rate of violence against employees.
How it impacts your business
To avoid the increased penalties, facilities will need to ensure they meet all OSHA workplace safety and health standards.Here’s how:
- Complete risk assessments to determine non-compliant areas.
Ask questions and engage employees working on the warehouse floor to gain insight about hazards and risks.
- Utilize software, such as telematics, to track and monitor facility and operator compliance.
Certain KPIs offer a proactive view that allows management to determine problem areas within your facility. These include:
- Operator Certifications
- Operator and Maintenance Report Cards
- Impact Analysis
- See if your business qualifies for an on-site OSHA assessment.
On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management programs.
OSHA’s mission is keeping workers safe, so naturally the rules and fines will evolve over time to better prevent workplace accidents. As an employer, it’s essential to stay up to date and compliant with any changes in rules or regulations — and to use telematic software that documents and tracks key areas of risk.