A glass company in Moraine, Ohio faces $724,380 in penalties after OSHA recently cited them for exposing employees to multiple safety and health hazards.  But, this wasn’t the first time.

OSHA initiated this latest inspection of the automotive glass manufacturer under the Agency’s Site-Specific Targeting program which directs enforcement resources to workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illnesses have occurred. OSHA cited the Moraine, Ohio glass company for nine repeated and 13 serious violations, including exposing employees to electrical safety violations; and failing to evaluate the workplace to determine permit-required confined spaces; train employees on lockout/tag out and entering confined spaces; install machine guarding; provide hearing protection; provide personal protective equipment, and require the use of fall protection. OSHA has inspected this plant 12 times in the past four years.

“This company’s repeated failure to implement and enforce safety and health programs at the workplace is unacceptable,” said Acting Regional Administrator Bill Donovan, in Chicago, Illinois. “Employers must continually evaluate their facilities for hazards, and train employees and managers to use proper safety controls and equipment to keep their worksites safe and healthful.”

As this $724,380 lesson clearly illustrates, you want to keep your company off of OSHA’s “bad-boy list”!  How, you may ask; first, how’d you make it on the list? There are two different targeting programs which OSHA uses to prioritize which companies will receive unannounced enforcement audits. The Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Program and National, Regional, or Local Emphasis programs.

The SST program uses data from injury and illness information that employers submit under 29 CFR 1904.41, the E-Recordkeeping Rule. The SST program in 2019 is based on 2016 injury data submitted in 2017. The targeted establishments are those with Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) injury rates above some as yet undefined threshold, together with a random sample of establishments that OSHA believes were required to submit 2016 300A injury data under the E-Recordkeeping Rule, but which did not submit the data in 2017. So, if you reported a high rate of injuries and have more than 20 employees, you are likely on the list. The only way to work yourself off the SST list is to effectively correct the OSHA violations, do everything possible to prevent future injuries, and wait to be dropped from the SST program as your injury and illness numbers improve.

In addition to the SST, OSHA implements national and local emphasis inspection programs to target high-risk hazards and industries. OSHA currently has nine National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) focusing on lead, ship-breaking, trenching/excavations, process safety management, hazardous machinery/amputations, hexavalent chromium, primary metal industries, and combustible dust. OSHA also has approximately 100 Regional/Local Emphasis Programs (REPs/LEPs). Ohio is a part of Region 5; Region 5 emphasis programs include the following: fall hazards, powered industrial vehicles, building renovation/rehab and demolition, grain handling, maritime, and wood pallet manufacturing industries. So, if you participate in any one of these industries, you are likely on OSHA’s radar for targeted inspections. It is crucial to operate safely in any one of these targeted enforcement categories as penalties are often higher than a standard OSHA site inspection.

Lack of change when it comes to employee safety is costly. Ignorance of the regulations that apply to your processes has not been an acceptable excuse for years now. Understanding how the regulations impact the cost of doing business is key to managing the risk of employee injury and OSHA penalties. If you are unsure about how any of this may impact your company, your employees and yourself, call us for a safety assessment. We will tour your facility and provide you with a report of regulations that apply to you as well as any found shortcomings OSHA would likely find if they were to pop in unannounced. Our goal is to keep you out of trouble with regulators and to decrease your risks of employee injury while keeping you up to date on regulation changes.