OSHA uses “shaming” to try to get a company to follow safety rules

Safety violations, especially repeated ones can get you publicly shamed by OSHA.
Safety violations, especially repeated ones can get you publicly shamed by OSHA.

If you have read my blog before you know I am big on safety in companies. Having been in charge of safety at a plant before and having to deal with employee injuries I take safety seriously. So I found it interesting that OSHA has now added the practice of “shaming” to its penalties for safety violations.


In a press release OSHA told the story of a worker who fell 22 feet to his death. Accident? Well that all depends on how you define accident. Certainly the worker did not intend to fall and die, however, OSHA fined his employer and cited them for “willful” violations. Apparently this company had been cited 4 months previously for the same violation. According to the release:

“A man is dead because this employer decided to break the law over and over again. Before this tragedy, OSHA cited this contractor twice for exposing workers to fall hazards, including at the same site just four months earlier,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor of Occupational Safety and Health.

They proposed fining the company $320,400 for the violations. Here is where the shaming comes into play. In the press release they also said:

“OSHA is asking companies contracting with Material Handling Systems to take strong steps to ensure that this employer protects its employees, and terminate its contracts if this employer continues to violate OSHA regulations. Material Handling Systems employer must demonstrate it can work safely and stop injuring its employees.”

They went on to state where the company is located, where they have had other violations and what company is the Workers’ Comp carrier.

Additional measures?

I would not be surprised that OSHA would put additional pressure on the companies doing business with Material Handling Systems by also scrutinizing the their safety practices.
I do not know all the circumstances around this case beyond the press release and the company has not responded to OSHA. OSHA has certainly made a strong case for severely punishing Material Handling Systems. We will have to see how this actually is settled. Regardless a man has lost his life due to practices of the company.
This should act as a lesson for other companies. Repeated, especially if they are willful, violations are not acceptable in any circumstance. If a company receives a violation, let alone four violations, steps should be taken to correct the issues involved. If they are not the company may find its name and reputation being dragged through the press in a way that will not help their reputation.

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