Here’s How to Prevent Accidents and Avoid New OSHA Fines

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Aug 17, 2016

The numbers are staggering. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration there were 4,281 deaths in the workplace in 2014. On average, 12 workers are killed each day.

OSHA was created to suggest and enforce protocol and policy geared to enhance employee safety and reduce the likelihood of injury or death. One of its tools is to fine employers for not adhering to the standards and statutes. As of August 1st, the maximum penalties OSHA can assess were raised. A serious violation — which doesn’t necessarily mean death or even an injury — can now cost an employer $12,600, though the agency often doesn’t assess the full amount. The median penalty assessed in fiscal 2014 in worker death cases was $5,050.

There are steps your enterprise can take to ensure adherence to OSHA while also preventing deadly workplace accidents, here is how:

Enforce regulatory compliance

A commitment to safety awareness drives regulatory compliance. On a local, federal or organizational level, these narratives are learned and applied on a daily basis. Mastering these directives, which are all listed on OSHA’s website, can prevent liability while solidifying a foundation for improving workplace safety. Yet many infractions are due to a lack of awareness. Every organization should appoint at least one person to monitor the rules and ensure that all employees and managers follow safe practices.  Continuous safety awareness is essential to avoiding accidents and fines.

Eliminate areas of deficiency

Preventing workplace incidents starts with identifying and eliminating areas of deficiency. Establish best practices and train employees in what they are. Ideally, a best practice will not have any deficiency, but in the real world, deficiencies creep in over time. According to EHS Today, the goal is to foster world class safety and this is done when deficiency and failure are exposed, removed, and replaced. Isolating these nuances can streamline operations and ultimately enhance workplace culture. Both Lean and Six Sigma manufacturing methodologies focus on these very ideas and have been instrumental in augmenting the modern workplace culture.

Ensure personnel are healthy physically and mentally

Stress, whether physical or mental, can cause some workplace accidents. It is important to take breaks to allow the body to recover from grueling tasks and to allow workers to rehydrate. Taking breaks does not make any worker less productive. In fact, breaks encourage productivity. For some categories of workers, employees don’t take breaks and thus work themselves too hard, with the result they suffer heat stroke or a cardiac event. Staying fresh and alert helps workers avoid injury and burnout. Thus it is imperative to make rest a part of the day.

In addition, it is always good to boost morale through comprehensive employee support services for those dealing with any mental condition that may inhibit their activity. Employees that are not focused are more prone to fail to perceive a potential hazard and thus there is more likelihood for an accident.