What Are the Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020?

What Are the Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020?

Local and small businesses can benefit from OSHA compliance now more than ever.

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted small businesses in more ways than one. Many local business owners have been forced to shut their doors, some temporarily while others permanently, because of the lack of cash reserves needed to weather the unforeseen business interruption.

For employers who’ve been fortunate enough to remain open, the new COVID-19 protocols set forth by Governor Baker and the CDC, the threat of becoming sick, and the desire for things to go back to “business as usual” are undoubtedly top of mind. However, despite the new pressures business owners feel today, safety and health experts urge employers to do what they can to remain compliant with the latest OSHA standards and training. Staying in compliance not only ensures that your staff remains healthy and safe during this critical time but also eliminates the financial threat and inconvenience of a severe OSHA violation.

In January 2020, OSHA updated its maximum penalty amounts.

Violation Type Penalty Amount
Serious; Other-than-serious $13,494 per violation
Failure to Abate $13,494 per day beyond the abatement date
Willful or Repeated $134,937 per violation

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or a brand-new employer, the OSHA rules and the threat of a violation and penalty are a serious concern, one that could significantly impact your bottom line and reputation. This is why it’s essential to keep things in perspective and remember that OSHA standards are put in place to do one thing only—keep your staff members safe.

Who is OSHA, and what do they do?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, is a U.S. government agency made up of approximately 1,850 inspectors responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of over 130 million workers at more than 8 million job sites throughout the United States.

Its responsibility to the American working class began in 1971, after Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure safe working conditions. Since then, the agency has set and enforced safety standards and provided training and education for businesses. With the cooperation of employers, safety and health professionals, workers’ unions, and other advocacy groups, OSHA has made the American workplace significantly safer.

According to OSHA’s website, over the past 48 years, U.S. employee deaths decreased from 38 workers a day in 1970 to 15 a day in 2019. Injuries and illnesses are down also from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 in 2019.

The administration’s primary goal is to inspect job sites and identify safety hazards via phone/fax and onsite inspections. If an OSHA compliance officer discovers a violation of standards or other serious danger, they may issue a citation and fine.

Every October, OSHA releases a list of the top 10 most frequently cited violations of the previous year, to help employers avoid the financial burden, or worse, that can come with these often-preventable workplace mishaps and hazards.

Last year was anything but ordinary, and as a result, OSHA has yet to publish the top violations of 2020. However, we felt recapping the Top 10 violations of 2019 was critical information to share with our clients and business associates as we begin the new year with fresh eyes.

The Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2019

  1. Fall Protection
  2. Hazard Communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Control of Hazardous Energy
  5. Respiratory Protection
  6. Ladders
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks
  8. Fall Protection Training
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding
  10. Eye and Face Protection

How will COVID-19 affect OSHA’s Top 10 violations list?

Before the pandemic, the top 10 citations, for the most part, remained the same, year after year. However, according to Businessinsurance.com, OSHA reportedly issued approximately $3.4 million in violations last year after inspecting 255 worksites, and a portion of the violations were coronavirus-related. According to a statement released by OSHA, of the recent COVID-19-related inspections conducted, violations included:

  • Failure to implement a written respiratory protection program.
  • Failure to provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, and training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment.
  • Failures to report an injury, illness, or fatality, including failures to record events on the appropriate recordkeeping forms.
  • Failing to comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires employers to maintain a safe workplace.

The COVID-19 outbreak and the rise in infectious disease–related OSHA citations is the not-so-subtle reminder that employers of all sizes should develop an illness preparedness and response plan to help combat the spread of disease in the workplace.

In our professional opinion, a safe, OSHA-compliant workplace begins with a comprehensive injury and illness prevention plan. If you’re wondering how to breathe new life into your current workplace safety strategy or are starting from scratch, our commercial insurance team compiled a list of five simple steps to help you get started.

How to create a workplace safety and prevention plan

  1. Identify the hazards in your unique workplace.
  2. Create a plan for preventing, lessening, and controlling the identified risks.
  3. Encourage your entire staff to identify and address workplace hazards proactively.
  4. Train employees on how to prevent workplace injuries and illness from happening in the first place.
  5. Routinely reassess your prevention plan and make the necessary improvements.

When employers are putting together a plan that addresses illness prevention, or COVID-19 specifically, OSHA encourages them to consider and plan for the following:

  1. Where and how employees may be exposed to COVID-19 at work, including exposures from the general public, customers, and coworkers.
  2. Non-occupational risk factors at home and in the community.
  3. Employees’ risk factors, including age, underlying health conditions, and pregnancy.
  4. Infection prevention measures, including frequent and proper handwashing, staying home if sick, respiratory etiquette (covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze), supplying PPE, telecommuting/flexible work hours policies, routine cleaning and disinfecting, and more.
  5. Contingency plans if an outbreak occurs, including how you’ll identify sick people; address worker absenteeism, social distancing requirements, remote work, interrupted supply chains, and delayed deliveries; and communicate with staff.

Long after the pandemic is over, your OSHA-inspired safety best practices and procedures will prove useful during the influenza virus-laden winter months here in New England. But, that’s not the only benefit you can come to expect after putting your policies into practice.

The benefits of OSHA compliance for small businesses

Staying in compliance with OSHA helps to keep employees safe, healthy, and productive, and it minimizes the potential threat of a hefty OSHA violation penalty. However, employers who diligently follow OSHA’s workplace safety standards can reap additional benefits—like saving money on their business insurance premiums!

When work-related injuries and illnesses decrease, most employers can take advantage of significant reductions in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Additionally, OSHA reported that employers who make their workplace safer often see fewer accidents overall, a transformation of company culture, higher productivity and quality of work, reduced staff turnover, lower business expenses, and greater overall employee satisfaction.

McClure Insurance Agency, Inc. can help keep you, your staff, and your workplace safe.

Today’s modern workplace looks different than it did less than a year ago. However, the key to success in business and life is to remain flexible.

A comprehensive injury and illness prevention plan is a necessary step for business owners to take. However, workplace mishaps can still occur. Fortunately, workers’ compensation insurance is required for all Massachusetts businesses and may be the extra protection and peace of mind you need when the unthinkable happens.

Despite the legal requirements, you do have options when it comes to your workers’ compensation insurance. That’s right; you have the freedom and flexibility to choose your insurance agent. So, why not partner with a local and independent insurance agent like McClure Insurance Agency, Inc., who values peace of mind and protection and is committed to providing you with excellent coverage options at the best possible rate?

McClure Insurance Agency, Inc. has served local business owners just like you in Western Massachusetts for close to 90 years. Our team of experienced business insurance professionals is prepared to help you make a smart business decision about your workers’ compensation coverage on your journey to create a healthier and safer workplace. Additionally, all of our insurance carrier partners offer their insureds helpful risk management advice and workplace safety/injury and illness prevention plan guidance.

If you’re interested in working with a trusted and experienced local independent insurance agent who is ready to go above and beyond to service your needs, please give us a call today at 413-781-8711.

McClure Insurance is here for you for the long-term.