If you have ever worked at a manufacturing firm or a construction company you understand the importance of having a safe workplace. Accidents and resultant injuries are expensive in both human and monetary costs. As a result safety incentive programs to encourage and reward safe practices, also known as “no lost time days” programs, have been a stable in many companies. If you drive by construction sites you will often see signs saying something to the effect of “this site is accident free for xxx days.” Well you may not see those anymore as a result of new OSHA regulations and requirements.
Acts of retaliation
According to attorney Howard Mavity of Fisher Phillilps OSHA has declared that after the new Electronic Recordkeeping rules go into effect on August of this year (2016) having an incentive plan that rewards employees for accident free days will be considered to be a “retaliatory practice”. In the opinion of OSHA having a reward system discourages employees from reporting accidents. Additionally, disciplining employees who do not immediately report workplace accidents is also considered a retaliatory practice. Lastly, automatically conducting post-accident drug testing of injured employees is also considered retaliatory. I know many companies that have just such a procedure written into their employee handbooks. That is going to cause much heartburn for many a drug testing programs.
Those changes are not the only things that OSHA has changed. They have also decided that employers need to pay a lot more, I mean a LOT MORE, for violations. According to Mavity, “OSHA’s maximum penalties will increase by 78 percent. With the top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471 and the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709.”
Time to review and upgrade
For many employers this change in regulations will require a review of the current safety policy and procedures. Mavity suggests a list of things employers should do, which include:
- Determine if your “Safety Program” is simply an impressive document which may not reflect actual practices, or may not be followed at all locations. Under OSHA’s proposed “Voluntary” (but not so voluntary) Safety and Health Program Guidelines, an employer’s failure to follow their stated safety procedures will be used against them.
- Do you maintain Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for tasks and use those JSAs to devise safety training, audits and how to manage safety?
- How often and when do you hold safety meetings, Tool Box Talks, refresher training and pre-shift or pre-work safety meetings?
- Does your safety committee do anything?
- What are your industry’s common exposure areas?
- What OSHA National, Regional and Local Emphasis efforts affect your business?
- Have you ever taken a “Safety Attitude” Survey?
- What safety (and disciplinary and counselling) training do you provide supervisors?
For the complete list of Mavity’s suggestions you can click here.
It is time to act now, August in just a half a month away. According to OSHA the compliance schedule is:
Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
You can read the entire document here.