OSHA’s New Employer Reporting Rule

OSHA recently announced newrequirements for businesses to report severe injuries in the aftermath of a report citing 4,405 workers killed on the job during 2013. The goal of the new reporting rule is to hold employers accountable for preventing accidents in the workplace.

Severe Injury Reporting Requirements

The revised rule requires employers to notify OSHA within eight hours of workplace fatalities occurring and within 24 hours of accidents requiring in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or the loss of an eye. The previous rule only required notification concerning fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations involving three or more employees from work-related injuries.

Why the focus on hospitals and amputations? According toDr. David Michaels, who is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, “Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment.”

OSHA believes the new rule will place considerably more pressure on business owners to provide improved safety standards, increased safety training and education, and develop and procure safer equipment to use in workplaces throughout the country.

Even employers who were not previously required to maintain records of illnesses and injuries related to the job must comply with the new requirement for reporting severe injuries and illnesses.

OSHA has also committed to creating a web portal in order to facilitate the reporting processes electronically giving employers an option other than phone reporting that has been used in the past.

Relaxed Reporting for Some Industries

Additional changes were announced that involved reporting minor injuries. Beginning in January of 2015, several industries will no longer be required to keep injury and illness records, though they will be required to report fatalities and hospitalizations according to the new rules. Among the industries affected are:

  • Legal services
  • Clothing stores
  • Gasoline stations
  • Book, periodical, and music stores
  • Advertising services
  • Motor vehicle dealers
  •  Electronics stores
  • Appliance stores
  • Sporting goods and hobby stores
  • Health and personal care stores
  • Architectural services
  • Colleges and universities
  • Community or junior colleges
  • Business support services
  • Freight transportation arrangement
  •  Florists
  • Office administrative services
  • Elementary and secondary schools
  •  Professional schools
  • Business schools
  • Travel services

Thecomplete list can be found on the OSHA website, but includes a wide range of businesses that are considered to be low risk businesses for job-related injuries and illnesses.

No matter how much effort you put into safety and training, though, accidents do sometimes occur. That’s why it’s so important for business owners today to invest in workers’ compensation insurance. Not only is it legally required in almost every state and industry, but it also provides you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your workers will be taken care of if they are injured on the job.

OSHA’s Safety Online Videos for Construction Business Owners

OSHA provides online space for educating construction business operators and employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently provided an online place for tools, videos, and resources for workers and business owners in the construction industry. Dubbed Prevention Videos (v-Tools): Construction Owners, the purpose is to help reduce how many on-the-job injuries there are in the construction field, as well as to raise safety awareness for the construction industry in particular. The new series of videos is nicknamed “v-Tools” and address many of the common construction risks, like scaffolds, reroofing, carbon monoxide, swinging cranes, skylights, that construction workers face day in and day out.

According to OSHA, there are more than 137,000 workers in the construction industry injured while performing basic daily duties for their job. And there is over 800 deaths as a result of their occupation. 

“Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to serious hazards, such as falling from rooftops, unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy construction equipment, electrocutions, silica dust, and asbestos,” OSHA says on their website.

Because of the high amount of injuries and risks involved in the construction industry, along with the many construction site hazards, OSHA decided to offer these instructional videos free of charge to those in this industry. The videos cover a variety of topics, including tips and warnings. Through the videos, the viewer can watch how easily employees are severely injured or even killed on the job, and offers tips for preventing these serious events. It helps people in the construction injury identify their hazards and risks and how to reduce them by reducing the amount of hazards.

Most of these videos are short, at under 5 minutes long. They offer clear and concise audio, easily understood vocabulary and some of the more common construction activities employees are most likely facing day to day. OSHA hopes that not only will the construction company owner and managers watch the videos, but that they will show the videos to their workers as well. They create a great opportunity for promoting safety in the workplace during orientation when new workers are hired, and perhaps during a “Tool Box” discussion.

The content of these videos offered by OSHA include stories from previous workers who had a serious injury, as well as people speaking about construction workers who were killed due to an injury on the job. Preventative and corrective actions are offered for each of the major risks and hazards for construction workers.

Topics include the following along with subcategories in each category:

  • Sprains and Strains in Construction
  • Carbon Monoxide in Construction
  • Falls in Construction
  • Struck by Accidents in Construction
  • Excavations in Construction.

All-in-all, there are currently 12 videos provided by OSHA that detail how quickly a construction worker can get injured, or worse, die on a construction job.

OSHA provides a caveat to those interested in viewing the prevention videos that some of the videos may be disturbing to some people as some of the videos involve deaths. Keep in mind that the videos are intended for those in the construction industry to identify construction-related hazards and hopefully reduce, or better eliminate them all together.

Construction company business owners can access the videos in four ways:

1) By directing employees to OSHA’s website found here

2) By downloading the videos and providing them directly to employees

3) By embedding YouTube versions of the OSHA videos.

4) By viewing the video’s transcript

The v-Tools by OSHA are meant to be informative about the hazards in the workplace and help you educate your workers on how to prevent injuries. Aside from introducing these to your employees, watch them yourself to become familiar with the tips and resources offered, which you can consider implementing into your construction company, if you aren’t already practicing them. It is important to note, that because of the hazards and risks in the construction industry, all small business construction company owners should make sure their business has the proper business insurance, including workers’ compensation insurance.

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2012

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standards. At the end of 2012, the administration looked at the most common safety violations occurring in the workplace and have listed the top 10. Among them are faulty ladders, lack of respiratory protection, and violation with electrical systems and wiring.

What Are OSHA Violations?

OSHA sets rules and regulations for safety in the workplace. They have a set of rules that business owners and employees must follow, as they improve their safety and reduce the risk of workplace injuries. There are five categories of violations: Serious violation, non-serious violation, willful violation, repeated violation, and failing to reduce risk for a previous violation. Violations that are deemed “accidental” have a consequence of up to a $7,000 fine, though some employers can get it down to $100 or less if it was an honest oversight. But in the case of willful and repeated violations, after previously being warned, the fine is up to $70,000 per violation.

Top 10 OSHA Violations

The top 10 violations that have been analyzed by OSHA are as follows:

1.    Failing to protect a fall – the employees did not have proper protection in the workplace to mitigate falls. There were more than 7,000 violations in 2012.

2.    Lack of communication – There were almost 5,000 violations of not communicating workplace hazards for employees. This includes no education on safety, lack of material safety data sheets or improper labeling of hazardous materials.

3.    Scaffolding construction – Nearly 4,000 violations occurred because of issues with the company’s scaffolding construction.

4.    Lack of respiratory protection – Not protecting employee’s respiratory health was responsible for 2,371 violations.

5.    Ladder problems – Over 2,300 violations were issued because of ladder problems, including inappropriate use of ladders, damaged steps and damaged rails.

6.    Machine exposures – Point-of-operation exposures on machinery is responsible for just about 3,000 OSHA violations in 2012. It includes not anchoring machinery and employee exposure to blades.

7.    Industrial trucks – Companies that used industrial trucks had a total of 1,993 violations in 2012. This is due to inadequate conditions of the trucks when they go in for repair and not having proper operator training.

8.    Electrical wiring – A little over 1,300 violations were because of the electrical wiring of buildings, including temporary wiring, not using extension cords in a safe manner and having cables or cords out in the open.

9.    Lockout – lockout is the term OSHA uses for not having good worker training, failure to complete inspections and lack of energy control procedures in the workplace.

10. General Electrical – Aside from wiring, there was a general collection of electrical violations, such as exposure to electrocution. 

Workplace Safety

Just in the top 10 violations, there were more than 20,000 violations in one year. This doesn’t even calculate other violations not on this list. This shows how important proper workplace safety is. By being aware of the potential hazards in the workplace and making simple repairs, you reduce workplace accidents, avoid violations (and fines by OSHA) and provide your employees the safe workplace they have a right to. Keep up on your material safety data sheets, be sure everything is safe for workers and train them on workplace safety.

If you are following all the rules set by OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor, you won’t experience any violations. Not only should employees be trained, but refreshed yearly. Aside from that, protect your business with insurance, including workers compensation and liability insurance.

How to Prepare for an OSHA Visit at Your Small Business

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA, visits can be intimidating for many small business owners. They do not have to be though. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference in the world. It also helps you properly prepare for the visit so your small business passes inspection with flying colors.


Why Does OSHA Visit Small Businesses?


According to Grainger, there are two reasons OSHA conducts inspections:  “To conduct a programmed inspection or an un-programmed inspection. A programmed inspection is when the inspection is scheduled due to selection criteria by OSHA. This criteria may be injury rates, death rates, exposure to toxic substances or a high amount of lost workdays for the type of industry you are in. An un-programmed inspection can come from one of three prioritized occurrences.”


These three prioritized occurrences include:


1)   Imminent danger suspicions

2)   Investigation of fatalities

3)   Investigate formal complaints provided by employees

What Can You do to Prepare?


Begin by getting your workplace in order. Conduct a safety inspection of your own. Revisit your existing safety plan. Does everything in your company measure up or is there room for improvement in order to meet the demands of safety for your business?


Look around for potential hazards and possible solutions. The key to making OSHA happy is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees. Finally, make sure your employees have adequate training regarding safety equipment and safety protocols. If necessary, conduct safety drills to verify that every employee knows the proper procedure in the event of an emergency.


Is Resistance Futile?


Take the time to learn what your rights as a business owner are as well, advises Link Staffing Services. You may request a warrant rather than acquiescing to the original notice of inspection. However, requesting a warrant may open your workplace up to further scrutiny than the original inspection would have merited.


The same holds true for supplying supporting documents to OSHA inspectors. It’s true that you could demand a subpoena, but there’s rarely a good reason to deny these documents. Simply ask that OSHA provides you with a list of the specific documents they want and supply only the documents included in the list. There’s no reason to offer documentation that wasn’t requested.


Appoint a Specific Contact Person for the Inspection


It’s never a good idea to allow OSHA inspectors randomly approach employees. You need to appoint a contact person who is well versed in your safety protocols, knows the facility well, and is able to handle the situation with in a calm manner. More importantly, this person should have some training for how to deal with OSHA and, according to Compass Health and Safety, have a trained alternate in case he or she can’t be there on the day of the inspection.


Safety in the workplace is important. OSHA inspections can serve as a reminder for business owners just how important safety is or can become a potential problem for businesses to deal with. The choice is yours how you approach these inspections, but a positive spin is almost always the preferred method.

Small Business Workplace Safety Regulations

All small businesses should have safety regulations and safety programs in the workplace. But, it’s just as important to enforce them as it is to create these programs. An organization that offers help in this area and handles most of the official safety regulations for companies in the United States is theOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at the US Department of Labor. OSHA is can also take some credit for the recent decline in work-related injuries as a result of negligence.


What is OSHA?


OSHA provides safety tips and creates occupational health and safety programs for small and large businesses alike. This helps enterprises to cut back on work-related injuries and worker’s compensation claims. OSHA also establishes the safety and health regulations for most businesses in the US. They administer the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which you probably see on the walls of your company. These posters are actually required by OSHA as they inform employees of proper regulations and safety precautions to be aware of. Safety and health conditions of companies must be regulated and approved by OSHA or an OSHA-approved organization.


What Does OSHA Do?


OSHA’s main responsibility is to help protect the health and safety of workers in the United States. It will establish partnerships with local organizations who oversee their safety regulations, encourage improvement in safety and health programs at companies, provide education, outreach and training of proper safety procedures, and enforce standards for health and safety in the workplace.


Local Workplace Safety Programs


OSHA isn’t the only organization overseeing safety regulations in the workplace, though they are the most common. Local safety programs can also be introduced although in most cases they need to be approved by OSHA. They must comply by all regulations set by OSHA and be enforced and continue to meet their standards. You will be liable for fines if you choose an organization to handle your safety and health that doesn’t follow the proper regulations as set by OSHA.


OSHA Regulations


OSHA safety and regulations are separated into four main categories according to their industries. The categories are agriculture, construction, general industry and maritime. Every category will have their own set of standards for maintaining the employee’s health and safety in the workplace.


Aside from industry-specific regulations, all businesses must meet certain standards. This includes providing employees with protective equipment like hats, goggles and helmets, clearly labeling hazards in the workplace and educating employees on them, having access to medical records and complying with inspections by OSHA or local companies.


Whether you have workplace standards and regulations created by OSHA or another organization, keeping the workplace safe and secure for employees is essential. Educate them on the various hazards and dangers, label everything effectively and give your workers everything they need to complete their job safely. Make sure you have workers compensation insurance too to cover any costs associated with an employee’s on-the-job injury.

What Should Business Owners Do if they Receive an OSHA Complaint?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a part of the US Department of Labor, and it is their job to ensure all employees in the US work in safe, clean, and appropriate work environment. As part of its mission, your small business may be subjected to a complaint from OSHA for the conditions in your workplace. There are a variety of reasons your business might get a complaint, such as having tripping hazards in your workplace and not working to correct it, or improper training for equipment or handling toxic chemicals. The following will provide instructions on how best to handle an OSHA complaint should you happen to receive one.
Know OSHA Standards

Upon receiving a complaint from OSHA, the first thing you should do is visit the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and look through their guidelines and standards. This will help you to determine the reason for the complaint as well as how best to correct it. It can be something that is easy to fix, such as having tripping hazards in your warehouse that you can remove and be sure to keep out of areas where employees frequent. While correcting it on your own won’t get rid of the complaint, it can help you be aware of the OSHA standards and be able to get through the inspection easily.

Decide if the OSHA Complaint is Valid

Upon reviewing the OSHA standards and guidelines, you should be able to determine if the OSHA complaint against your business is valid. If you find that it is indeed valid, you can move on to correcting the matter and having your inspection. However, some complaints are not valid and can be easily proven. Even if it is not valid, you should prepare for responding to the complaint as well as getting an inspection from OSHA to be sure your workplace is up to their standards for health and safety.
Respond to the Complaint

Following a complaint from OSHA, you;ll have five business days to respond. When responding to an OSHA complaint, repeat what the conditions are that are being held against you, and what you have done or will do to correct the issues. If it’s invalid, you should also include this information in your response. When addressing your resolution to the complaint, be detailed in the steps you will make in order to improve the conditions of your workplace to make it safer for employees.
Correct the Issues Stated in the Complaint

If you have not done so already, you must correct the issues stated in the complaint. It is your responsibility to offer your employees a safe and healthy work environment, so this is an important step not only to pass inspection, but to give your employees a good place to work.
Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

After responding to the complaint and correcting the issues, your complaint may be closed by OSHA if they feel that you are making the proper steps towards an appropriate work environment. However, some complaints require further inspection from an OSHA representative. Before the inspection, be sure that your workplace is safe, and that the issues in the complaint are corrected. You should also walk through your business premises to be sure everything is in working order.
Having a complaint from OSHA can be a frustrating experience, especially if it causes you to realize you are not providing the right work conditions for your employees. Use it as a way to improve your work environment. Whether or not the complaint is valid, it helps to review the OSHA guidelines and be sure your workplace is up to code for your employees.