OSHA's Impact on Manufacturing
Occupational Safety and Health Administration Cracks The Whip on Manufacturers
OSHA continues to be aggressive in their approach to conducting inspections in manufacturing and recycling facilities. Some of the most common reasons for inspections are from employee complaints and follow-up investigations to serious injuries. Recycling facilities in particular have become more of a target for OSHA inspections based on operations and potential industrial hygiene issues.
OSHA has become very consistent in publishing press releases for higher-dollar value citations. The press releases often contain editorial comments on the employers that have been cited. The press releases take place after the delivery of alleged violations and prior to settling the cases. Follow up press releases are highly uncommon for cases where the outcome of the case is more favorable for the employer. Unfortunately, this can and often leads to significant reputational challenges for those companies, even in cases when the violations are dropped.
The House and Senate recently passed increased OSHA penalty amounts which will take effect in the middle of 2016. This is the first increase in penalty amounts in 25 years, so expect a hefty increase of nearly 80%. The proposed penalty amounts are as follows:
- Other than Serious $12,600
- Serious Violations $12,600
- Willful Violations $126,000
- Repeat Violations $126,000
There are many primary areas of focus during an OSHA inspection. Below are the topics typically creating higher-dollar penalties and higher hazard issues for manufacturing and recycling companies:
- Lock Out Tag Out
- Confined Space Entry
- Machine Guarding
- Fall Protection
- Protection from Heavy Equipment Traffic
- Air Quality/Industrial Hygiene
- Noise Levels
- Industrial Hygiene
- Safety Training and Protection of Temporary Staffing Personnel
Managing safety and health continue to be of primary importance for the manufacturer and recycling company. The ROI for safety activities is 4:1 and may be increasing considering the increase in OSHA penalty amounts. Most established companies have formalized safety and health programs, but would be wise to expand their risk management strategy to consider the legal aspects of defending against OSHA penalties.
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