Top Three Ways to Avoid Increased OSHA Fines

July 20, 2016
With OSHA's impending penalty increase, companies must empower employees, embrace technology and be prepared to ensure compliance success.

All it takes is one workplace safety or employee health violation to severely hinder a business’s financial standing.

With OSHA’s near-80 percent fine increase going into effect August 1, and its more rigorous inspections process, it could be even more crippling to try to stay up to code. Until very recently, a serious OSHA violation penalty stood at $7,000.

New rules now in effect have increased the fine to $12,600. When it comes to willful and repeat violations, penalties have gone up from $70,000 to $126,000 per violation. For small or medium sized business, it could spell the end.

However, there are a few steps that any company can take to avoid compliance slipups, and ensure costly and damaging fines are avoided. By following these three simple guidelines, decision makers and employees can keep their teams on course to OSHA compliance success.

Empower Employees

Develop a culture where employees are encouraged to speak up, without fear of retribution, about potential safety hazards and concerns. For example, employees in health, safety or construction, are often the ones in the field and on the ground, and may see things management doesn’t. By providing a way for staff to anonymously report potentially hazardous situations, employers can take the necessary actions to resolve the issue. Designate an employee or employees to conduct regular safety checks, and implement training programs so that everyone is on the same page. Provide your in-house safety inspector with a record-keeping system like a mobile form for real-time accountability, and to ensure that safety is monitored constantly, and hazards are being flagged up the chain.

Embrace Technology

Regardless of industry, from a construction site, a retail store or a typical office setting, staying compliant has its own set of challenges. Stay on top of current regulations and workplace inspections by leaning on mobile technology, which can help reduce the amount of dollars and time spent on outdated processes and inefficient paperwork. Using a mobile app for workplace inspections provides teams with the tools and information they need at their fingertips. Mobile users can have access to daily inspection checklists to remain OSHA compliant, which can provide regular access to ergonomics best practices, emergency management, construction safety, EPA indoor air quality, or forklift safety.

Additionally, data gathered can be an invaluable asset, where tracking and consistently evaluating processes and procedures in real-time can allow sites to instantly take corrective actions. Mobile platforms offer the real-time flow of communication to empower companies to act on non-compliance issues, and provide a documented date and time-stamped inspection that can be immediately pulled down from the cloud in case of an OSHA inspection and/or employee compliant/lawsuit.

Be Prepared

The stakes for a violation are higher than ever, and even the thought of a fine can be intimidating in and of itself. By developing a plan early, everyone, from management to employees, is prepared when the time comes for an inspection. Just like practicing for a fire drill in school, when everyone is better informed and well-prepared to go through an inspection, nerves are calmed, employees are equipped and inspections are organized. Prep teams with mock interviews to ensure employees understand their rights during inspections. Conduct regular “surprise” inspections that are true to OSHA rules to help set the stage for the real thing.

An OSHA inspection can be a frightening prospect and the newly-enforced violation increase can put businesses in danger of losing their financial footing. With a shaky economy and ever-changing landscape, the last thing anyone needs is a fine or violation that can go into five figures. By taking the steps above, organizations, small and large, can ensure employees and the state of their business is in good shape.

About James Robins:

James Robins is CMO at Canvas, a mobile platform that makes it simple for businesses to automate how work is done, replacing outdated processes and expensive paperwork. He has held leadership positions in some of the world’s leading global brands and hyper-growth early stage businesses, including Orange, Automobile Association, Myriad Group and NEC. He has developed award winning challenger brands and B2B/B2C SaaS platforms covering financial services, mobile software and social media. Over the past 10 years, James has built 100M+ customer bases and cutting-edge solutions that have delivered 4B software installations that transform how people live and work in an increasingly connected world.

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