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March 13, 2019

New OSHA rule makes it a good time to enhance safety

Bruce Morton

On January 23, 2019 OSHA published its final rule increasing the maximum penalties assessed to a violator to $13,260. It also included that “willful violations” could top out at $132,598. With these large penalties in place, construction companies must be very astute in their safety practices. Penalties ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars can put such a strain on the bottom line that many businesses could face insolvency. It’s important to note that OSHA takes into consideration how well an organization is trying to implement their regulations when assessing penalties, so now is the time for every construction company to reassess its safety program.

When reviewing a safety program, five foundational practices should be in place:

  1. Comprehensive
    • It must cover all programs throughout the company, no matter how small.

  2. Investigative
    • The safety team must drill down on individual policies gauging validity.

  3. Functional
    • All processes and protocols must have a clear understanding of why that specific policy is in place.

  4. Trained and Tested
    • Internal safety leaders must train all relevant personnel “on-going and continuously” in order for them to fully understand the safety program in place. They will also get a sense of what is working versus not working.
  5. Improved
    • As these employees implement the safety program, determine what is working and not working so the program can be improved over time.

According to the OSHA guidelines, the best way to avoid these steep penalties is to follow this format so you can show that you understand what OSHA is expecting and you are implementing their regulations faithfully. You and OSHA share a common goal—you both want your employees as safe as possible and are working to reduce any chance of injury.

If you have questions regarding OSHA regulations or other safety-related issues, please contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency representative for assistance.