OSHA INCREASING ITS FINE
Effective January 17, OSHA is increasing their fines.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, adjusting for inflation, is raising the rates on both minimum and maximum fines. For instance, the maximum levied for a willful violation has increased from $145,027 to $156,259 — an increase of nearly eight percent. Likewise, the more common penalties (including those for other-than-serious and posting requirement violations) have raised from $14,502 to $15,625.
This price increase is particularly relevant for facility and safety managers prioritizing fall-protection projects in 2023. In 2022, failure to have appropriate fall protection was once again the most-cited OSHA violation, more than doubling the second most-cited infraction (hazard communication). With 5,260 citations issued in 2022, that means fifteen financial penalties were levied for fall-protection standards every single day — and the price just went up.
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OSHA ANNOUNCES DATE FOR STAND-DOWN EVENT
According to OSHA statistics, there were 986 construction fatalities in 2021 — and 378 of them were caused by a worker falling from elevation. This was once again the leading cause of death in the industry.
The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction has been announced by OSHA for May 1-5. This is a voluntary event for employers to take time and discuss the risks of fall hazards and to review appropriate measures to mitigate these risks. Even industries that don’t directly face fall hazards can use this opportunity to talk about other at-work safety risks.
While companies of all varieties can participate, historically the event has been spearheaded by construction companies (both commercial and residential), independent contractors, highway maintenance workers, general industry employees, the U.S. military and government, and others.
OSHA provides resources for employers looking to participate in the Stand-Down, including how to conduct a productive toolbox talk. You can also access information about previous events and how to receive certification for your Stand-Down here.
OSHA FALL-PROTECTION RESOURCES
It’s important for facility managers to understand and adhere to the OSHA standards in place for fall protection. But did you know that OSHA provides resources for fall protection, helping employers understand the rules and how best to administer them?
Because falls continue to be one of the most common jobsite injuries, OSHA prioritizes correcting this across the American workforce. Some of the recommendations are simple, from installing guardrails or training employees on proper harness procedures. But OSHA also recognizes the importance of understanding hazards and addressing them before chancing a fall event:
“Whether conducting a hazard assessment or developing a comprehensive fall protection plan, thinking about fall hazards before the work begins will help the employer to manage fall hazards and focus attention on prevention efforts. If personal fall protection systems are used, particular attention should be given to identifying attachment points and to ensuring that employees know how to properly use and inspect the equipment. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating fall protection hazards in the workplace.”
OSHA also provides a number of further resources on the subject, from videos and posted standards to training and industry-specific insights.
In the end, it always pays to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to safety planning. Assess your facility and institute a fall-protection plan for your facility — and utilize OSHA resources while doing so.