Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

A Costly OSHA Violation Could be Reimbursed If  Unjustified

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Oct 31, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Safety is one of the biggest, most costly concerns in the supply chain industry and OSHA violations can be extremely costly. But what if your facility is fined erroneously? While it is very common for day-to-day operations to become lax when it comes to safety protocol, it is also possible for OSHA to make mistakes in its evaluation. hammer-1537123_640

The good, and possibly surprising, news is that there are circumstances in which OSHA will actually pay an employer’s attorney’s fees, but only in cases where OSHA is wrong in its judgment.

What you should know

So, if your business is cited for a safety violation by OSHA, and there is good reason to believe it was not justified, you may be able to get help under a federal law. This is particularly true if your business can’t afford to pay an attorney to fight the claims.

It is called the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and it may provide your company with the backup it needs to have the government foot the bill for challenging an erroneous OSHA citation.

EAJA details

  • The EAJA can award attorney’s fees and cover other expenses to eligible parties in certain administrative proceedings. Your business must be able to prove limited resources and be unable to afford the costs to challenge the citation on its own.
  • It includes the cost of going before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
  • The OSHRC must find that OSHA’s position on the violations handed down were not justified in order for compensation to be granted. In other words, it does not cover your costs if you lose.
  • OSHA will have the burden to show that its position was substantially justified. If OSHA fails to prove their case, the OSHRC may award your business reasonable attorney fees and witness costs.

Avoiding OSHA violations

Sustaining a safe work environment in a warehouse or manufacturing facility is a complex task. The more locations an enterprise has the harder it becomes to monitor, track and enforce safety.

In order to ensure safety standards are met, a uniformed way of monitoring and recording safety processes needs to be in place.

Telematic safety solutions lets your enterprise monitor and maintain a culture of safety and delivers complete documentation of everything needed to save time and reduce injury to its workforce and the potential for OSHA fines.

For example:

  • Do a monthly site assessment to break down the hazards contributing to incidents.
  • Use telematic data on the 5 whys (who, what, where, when and why) when a violation happens allows you to prevent a repeat incident.
  • Personalized safety checklists are ideal because they will fit the unique demands and risks within your facility.
  • Use automated safety checklists to provide documented proof that safety checks were conducted and telematic software should also lock out vehicles from use if they fail inspection.

By monitoring safety checklists and protocols in your facility, and knowing your options should you need to challenge an OSHA citation, you could save your business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Topics: forklift accidents, OSHA checklists, injuries, Documentation of impacts, warehousing industry incidents & violations, forklift impacts, lockout/tagout function, accident reporting

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