As an employer, it’s your responsibility to keep your team safe from harm & comply with OSHA regulations. And, when worker complaints crop up from time to time, it’s your duty to address them in an appropriate, timely manner. Failure to do so can land you in hot water.
Now, a vehicle parts manufacturer based in Kyle, Texas, stands accused of repeatedly ignoring several worker complaints and concerns, and faces $298K in penalties.
These accusations include willfully exposing its employees to hazards related to unsafe machine operation, potential falls, and a lack of personal protective equipment.
Let’s take a look at the specifics.
Worker Complaints Lead to More than a Dozen OSHA Violations
After an inspection carried out by OSHA in June 2022 at the factory, federal officials found them guilty of one willful violation: a failure to control hazardous energy to prevent sudden machine starts. However, that wasn’t the only issue they discovered.
OSHA also issued more than a dozen serious subpoenas for their failure to follow required machinery safety procedures, provide procedures for safe access to enclosed spaces requiring permits, prevent workers from being exposed to slip, trip, & fall hazards, provide workers with the necessary personal safety equipment (PPE); and also provide procedures for safe crane operation.
As a result, OSHA has proposed a fine of $298,000 for the company.
The company now has 15 business days from receipt of its subpoenas and penalties to comply, request an informal meeting with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Related Article: OSHA Citations: How to Respond as an Employer
Protect Your Workers Against Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Of course, there’s no reason to wait until worker complaints arise to keep them protected. Staying ahead of problems is always the best option, which includes providing the right safety equipment for the job.
Personal protective equipment, also known as “PPE”, is any equipment worn to minimize exposure to elements that could cause workplace injuries and illnesses. Depending on which industry you operate in, your needs may differ from someone else.
For instance, if your team works in situations where silica dust, chemical hazards, toxic gases, or any other respiratory dangers exist, your respirator needs would look drastically different than someplace like a storage warehouse or retail store.
The dangers your workplace faces could result from chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazardous substances. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or even coveralls, vests and full body suits.
Personal protective equipment use in the workplace is of utmost importance, to both workers and leadership at work.
Compliance with the OSHA Personal Protection Standard could prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually, and keep your company free of expensive OSHA fines and lawsuits.
Related Article: What to Know About CAARA, AMLA, and OSHA Whistleblower Protection
How to File a Workplace Safety and Health Complaint
As a worker, you have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint and request an OSHA inspection of your workplace if you believe there is a serious hazard or if you think your employer is not adhering to OSHA standards. You’ll want to file the complaint as soon as possible after noticing the hazard.
In addition, you should note that a signed complaint is more likely to result in an onsite inspection at your workplace.
- Use the Online Complaint Form and submit online to OSHA.
- You can complete the OSHA Complaint Form (Español), or Send a Letter Describing Your Complaint, and submit it via email/fax to your local OSHA office.
- Call your local OSHA Office or 800-321-6742 (OSHA).
- Visit your local OSHA Office to discuss your complaint or ask questions you may have.
For more information, you can see everything OSHA has to say, right here.
*** About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees. Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience.
You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.