HR Management & Compliance

See Just How Much a Lack of Safety Training Can Cost You

Following safety regulations isn’t just the right thing to do—it keeps employers on the right side of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement. And it saves money by avoiding fines, legal fees, and more. OSHA loves to cite a lack of training, and these case studies showcase just how expensive an ineffective (or nonexistent) safety training program can be.

In today and tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll learn about six companies that ran afoul of OSHA regulations and paid the price.

Workers Exposed to Chemical, Fire, Explosion Hazards

Who was fined: Heat treatment plant
Where it happened: Connecticut—OSHA Region 1
Serious violations: Employee complaints led to an OSHA inspection of a facility that performs heat treatment on metal parts. The inspection resulted in citations for 24 serious violations in the company after OSHA found workers exposed to a variety of fire, explosion, chemical, and mechanical hazards. The violations include not training and providing protective clothing and tools to employees who performed live electrical work; not inspecting a piping system carrying anhydrous ammonia; lack of a pressure relief valve on a nitrogen tank; and improper storage of incompatible chemicals and combustible materials. The company also lacked an adequate program for confined space work and lacked adequate safeguards for employees required to wear respirators.
Penalty: $77,000 fine

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Equipment Manufacturer Cited with 21 Violations

Who was fined: Agricultural equipment manufacturer
Where it happened: Georgia—OSHA Region 4
Serious violations: After receiving a complaint, OSHA initiated an inspection of a manufacturing facility and cited the company with 11 serious and 10 other safety violations. The violations included failing to identify permit-required confined spaces, failing to test the air quality of confined spaces before workers were allowed to enter them, failing to develop and implement lockout/tagout procedures, failing to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers who were exposed to welding hazards, and exposing workers to moving parts from a machine that was missing a safety guard. Other violations included failing to conduct fit testing for workers who used respiratory masks, and not training workers on the dangers of hexavalent chromium exposure.
Penalty: $44,710 fine

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Teenager Suffers Hand Amputation

Who was fined: Pallet manufacturer
Where it happened: Ohio—OSHA Region 5
Serious violations: On March 31, a 14-year-old worker lost his hand through contact with the operating parts of a wood planer while manufacturing pallets. The employer violated the law by allowing an employee under the age of 18 to work on the machine. An OSHA inspection found that the wood planer was one of several machines that lacked required safety guards. OSHA cited the company with 17 serious safety violations, including failing to train worksite staff to provide first aid; failing to establish an exposure control plan for employees exposed to blood during first aid; failing to teach employees about workplace chemical hazards; failing to provide and train workers on the correct use of PPE; failing to store flammable liquids correctly; failing to use self-closing valves on gasoline drums used to power equipment; and failing to install electrical equipment properly. The Wage and Hour Division is also investigating the company for probable violations of child labor laws.
Penalty: $43,200 fine
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll review three more cases where a lack of training ended up costing employers big-time.