Our Newsletter | OSHA

Warning: OSHA Is Not a Small Town in Wisconsin!

Our Thought-Provoking Newsletter to Clients, Colleagues and Friends 
We are excited to publish our first newsletter in 2015.  As the political landscape changes, so must business adjust and change.  We would value your feedback for future articles to address your most important safety concerns.
Do OSHA Issues Keep You Up at Night?

In 2015, employers are once again stuck in the middle. On one side, visionary business executives are implementing initiatives to find and fix hazards and risks while facing new threats to the safety and security of their employees.  On the other side there are new OSHA enforcement initiatives underway including new recordkeeping and reporting requirements, penalizing non-compliant safety incentive plans, fining underreporting of injuries, protecting whistleblowers, implementing new personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, chemical safety regulations and more.

 

Safety Pays When You Budget for It

Company leaders have to make prudent safety spending decisions to protect assets, people, profits and the environment while infusing corporate goals, values and dreams into every decision.  How a leader commits to, supports and budgets for safety will directly impact the company’s bottom line.  This new year should see results measured against goals, safety included in functional job descriptions, and every employee held accountable in support of the company’s safety culture.  Your assets depend on it.

 

If the Goal is No Employee Injured, Then You Need a Safety Culture Improvement Plan

Every visionary employer should have a current Safety Culture Improvement Plan with Action Steps, Timelines for Completion and Directly Responsible Individuals identified. The Plan brings safety up to habit strength while generating discretionary energy that employees deposit back into the company and is released as profitability, creativity, increased productivity, and loyalty.  Oxman Safety’s proprietary Safety and Performance Management Assessment is available to assess your safety culture and help you keep on track.
 
Our best to you and yours,
 
 
Scott Oxman
scott@oxmansafety.com
Laura Oxman
laura@oxmansafety.com
whistleblower

2015 Whistleblower Protection – Under reporting of Injuries – Willful & Serious Violations

In 2015, OSHA is increasing it’s enforcement staff to focus on protecting whistleblowers, non-compliant safety incentive plans, repeat and serious violations and underreporting of injuries and illnesses.

Federal Whistleblower complaints filed with OSHA in 2014 jumped to over 3,000, a steady climb for the past ten years.  Employers should review their policies to proactively prevent retaliation against an employee for whistleblowing. Fines and penalties for whistleblowing are significant.  Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor.  

http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html http://www.whistleblowers.gov/whistleblower/wb_data_FY05-14.pdf

2015 California Whistleblower Laws SB 496  Labor Code section 1102.5 provides whistleblower protections for employees who have reason to believe that their employer is violating a federal or state statute. SB 496 expands whistleblower protections to include reports alleging a violation of a local rule or regulation. It also protects employees who disclose, or may disclose, information regarding alleged violations “to a person with authority over the employee or another employee who has authority to investigate, discover or correct the violation. Finally, SB 496 prohibits retaliation against an employee because the employer “believes the employee disclosed or may disclose information. 

http://www.calchamber.com/hr-california/white-papers/Documents/new-laws-2014.pdf

Underreporting – Giving of safety awards for no incidents/accidents over a specific periods of time is viewed by OSHA as contributing to the underreporting of workplace injuries and close calls.  To guard against underreporting, we recommend that all supervisor safety awards be based upon two factors:

(1) 50% – Conducting specific safety activities (eg trainings, inspections, incident investigations, etc)

(2) 50% – Meeting benchmarked safety goals

Willful and Serious Violations – Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.  A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Both willful and serious violations result in sizable fines and penalties.

OSHA300

2015 OSHA and ADA Compliance

2015 OSHA 300 Reporting & Recordkeeping Requirements

New OSHA reporting requirements are now in effect! As of January 1, 2015, there is a change to what and when covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers shall report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.  Reminder: Employers must post 300A injury/illness summary form from February 1 through April 30 and it should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.

Critical webinar training “OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements and GHS Conversion Update” is now available for registration.


RISKOutside Contractor Liability

Business owners can be liable for accidents caused by outside contractors/subcontractors.  OSHA compliance is ultimately the responsibility of all employers where services are rendered.

Subcontracting out services does not relieve the business owner from liability, OSHA citations or fines.  A St. Petersburg, FL resort was cited for the death of an employee of an outside servicing contractor who was crushed by an elevator under repair.  The outside contracting company had not de-energized the power – a standard Lock-Out/Tag-Out (LOTO) procedure – of the elevator, resulting in the death of their worker.  It was determined that the resort had failed to oversee/coordinate the LOTO procedure with the the outside contractor and that the outside contractor employees lacked mandated OSHA training. OSHA said that it is the responsibility of both the Hotel owner and the outside contractor to ensure  that safety procedures were followed.  Both employers were held responsible for the employee death and were cited and fined.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/osha-calls-for-fines-in-fatal-elevator-accident-at-tradewinds-resort/2150333


ADAPoolLiftADA Pool Lifts for Hotels & Resorts: Warning! $55,000 per Lift Potential Penalty For Non-Compliance

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is targeting hotels and resorts that are not in compliance with ADA Pool Lift regulations. Lifts for the disabled must be readily and immediately available during all pool open hours.  If a guest must ask for the pool lift, the hotel is in violation of the law. This means that the lift must be installed and ready for immediate use by the disabled guest without asking hotel management for its use in every body of water that an able-bodied person might swim in at every moment the pool is open. Each body of water (pool, hot tub) is required to have it’s own lift. If the lift is battery operated, the battery must be fully charged, installed and ready for immediate use. 

We recommend that all pool employees be regularly trained on 1) How to operate the lift(s), 2) Requirements regarding the availability of the lift and it’s operating condition for every body of water, and 3) Any safety considerations that might arise complying with this mandate. 

Penalties for non-compliance can exceed $55,000 per ADA citation by the DOJ.  If you have questions about compliance, contact the DOJ’s ADA consulting wing at (800) 514-0301. 

http://www.ahla.com/content.aspx?id=34158


Be A Manager, Go To Jail!  The CA Corporate Criminal Liability Act

A California law that will imprison managers in work environments for as long as three years for failing to report a seriously concealed danger that might physically threaten employees or consumers.

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ADA Swimming Pool Deadline – January 13, 2013

DOJ

Pool Lift Deadline Approaching:  Is Your Property Ready? (From AHLA.com)

The January 31, 2013 deadline for pool and spa accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is approaching and AH&LA is urging members to review their compliance needs.  AH&LA has worked exhaustively to secure a one year extension and clarification of the January 31, 2012, Department of Justice (DOJ) Guidance. In May 2012, DOJ granted a one year extension to January 31, 2013, and issued two guidance documents related to its interpretation of the requirements for pool and spa accessibility in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.

According to the current DOJ guidance, by January 31, 2013, all existing pools and spas at lodging facilities must do the following if it is “readily achievable”:

  • Provide at least one means of entry (pool lift or slopped entry) as long it is readily achievable.  Pools with 300 linear feet of wall or more must have a pool lift or entry, and one additional means of entry which can be one of the following:  (1) pool lift; (2) sloped entry; (3) transfer system; (4) transfer wall; or (5) pool stairs.
  • Have the pool lift out in position and ready for use all hours the pool is open.
  • Each body of water (e.g., pools, spas) must have a separate means of entry (there are special rules for clusters of spas).
  • Pool lifts must be attached to the pool deck or apron in some manner unless it is not readily achievable to affix them.

For detailed explanation of the “Questions and Answers:  Accessibility Requirements for Existing Swimming Pools at Hotels and Other Public Accommodations” visit AH&LA’s Website.

AH&LA has raised significant concerns with the current guidance and will continue to work for resolutions of these issues. We will continue to keep you apprised of developments.

Lessons From Losses: How We Live Matters – Be A Renegade!

In the safety profession we often refer to “lessons from losses.”  These are losses critically studied in order to prevent their recurrence and to provide a safer, healthier tomorrow.  I have a personal “loss” in my life.  Someone very dear to me is terribly ill with arteriosclerosis.  She is suffering – a lot.  Her life and lifestyle are forever changed.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  Risk factors include overweight and obesity, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, lack of physical activity, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, age and family history.  While age and family history cannot be altered, the remaining risk factors for heart disease are most often tied to our behavioral choices and decisions:

  1. Eat Healthy!  Decide today to eat a life-giving diet packed with nutrients and void of processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, and names of items you can’t pronounce or identify.  Decide you won’t be  imprisoned by poor dietary decisions and sugar addiction.  Withdraw from sugar.  Learn about whole foods.  Determine how you will respond to your cravings.  Become an educated renegade!
  2. Move It! Decide today to get movin’ – anyway you can and every day.  Walk, dance, swim, run, yoga, bike — whatever is the most pleasing to you.  Move for 10, 20, 30 or 90 minutes.  Determine to enjoy it and you will enjoy it!  In addition to heart health, concentration improves, depression lifts, anxiety fades into the background and a glow begins to appear.  Just say “No” to a sedentary lifestyle.
  3. Quit Smoking! Decide today to quit.  Vocalize that you are no longer a smoker.  Avoid your favorite “smoking locations”.  Make a list of ways to reduce your anxiety and cravings when they appear.  Determine to be the master of your life and not a slave to addiction.  Many have gone before you.
  4. Forgive! Decide today to forgive everyone who has ever harmed you.  Let them off the hook – your life quality will soar!  Unresolved anger, resentments and entitlements are a one way path to destruction.  Determine today and every day that you are free to live without these poisonous conditions.
  5. Take Care! Decide today to take care of yourself.  You can do it.  Rearrange your life.  Adequate sleep is imperative.  Laugh out loud.  Find companionship as loneliness is a silent killer.

Frame your decisions:  “I don’t eat processed foods”,  “I don’t hold grudges”,  “I don’t smoke”,  “I like to move around”,  “I make sleep my priority”,  “Love is not in short supply”.  Your behavior will follow your decisions.

Lessons From Losses.  Decide to live a great life.  How we live matters.  It’s still a matter or more “wins” than “losses”!

Lethal Distraction

We seem to be writing a good bit about distraction lately.  As a career safety professional, I spend much of my time investigating the root cause of accidents because it is only by discovering the root cause that we can prevent a future accident.  It is what I call my Best Practice.  It is similar to looking for the root cause of disease rather than the treatment of disease.  Isn’t it a better practice to prevent accidents and disease rather than mitigate and treat?

Distraction has become the root cause of the majority of workplace accidents and incidents.  Distraction causes automobile accidents, slips, trips and falls, spills, cuts, chemical injuries, and all forms of unsafe work practice.  The worst workplace accident in the history of our country – The DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill – has a root cause of distraction.

There has been a cultural shift toward pre-occupation with technology (pings and dings), relationship issues (think social media) and economic problems (it’s the economy stupid – Bill Clinton’s I believe).  In addition, many employees have medical problems and take medications that impair their concentration and lead to mindless behaviors.  Understanding this growing trend of distraction is the first step toward creating an environment that is distraction free and that focuses on the safe completion of work tasks.

As we look toward the beginning of 2013 won’t you join me in becoming more mindful of your decisions and behaviors, especially as they are related to safe work practices?