The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released information on two similar cases. A roofing contactor received safety warnings in February 2022 from a federal safety inspector regarding fall protection standards. A deadly fall at a different worksite occurred two months later and the investigation found that if protective devices had been used that the incident could have been prevented. Following the inspection, OSHA cited the company on two repeat violations. The company is currently facing a total of $249,323 in proposed penalties.
Federal safety investigators placed another company, a manufacturer with several sites, into their Severe Violator Enforcement Program when a worker at one of its sites died. On January 3, 2022, an inspection was conducted at another one of its sites where other violations were found. On February 8, 2022, Federal safety investigators found machinery that lacked adequate guarding and that the company failed to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures at another site. The company had previously signed formal settlement agreements to resolve an OSHA citation for similar infractions years earlier, between 2015 and 2017. In addition, the company had hired an outside consultant to conduct machine guarding and lockout/tagout audits between 2017 and 2019. The audit found deficiencies and provided recommendations which the company never implemented. The company is now facing nearly $2M in proposed penalties from 2021 and 2022.
These cases illustrate the importance of addressing issues that are found immediately. In addition, when found, issues should be addressed not only at the site but organization wide, if in more than one location. In addition, companies who conduct their own audits or have third-party audits conducted and who receive recommendations as part of the audit, should implement those recommendations. If a particular recommendation is not effectuated, there should be documentation as to why the recommendation was not implemented, and another appropriate action should be taken in its place to appropriately address the concern. Companies should consult with their Human Resources Department and their legal counsel before considering another action in place of recommended actions.
Audits and compliance reviews may be conducted for a variety of HR items. Whether you’re looking for an I-9 audit, a review of your compliance posters, or an investigation with recommendations, SWHRC can assist you with your compliance items. Contact us at SWHRC.com today.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP