OSHA IN 2018: ARE WORKERS IN GREATER DANGER?


OSHA IN 2018: ARE WORKERS IN GREATER DANGER?

As promised here in Indiana at the international safety conference hosted by Itasca’s National Safety Council, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released the details of its annual Top 10 Most-Cited Violations List.

These include details on the federal safety regulations most commonly disrespected by employers, as well as the top financial punishments and monetary penalties assessed against companies during fiscal year 2017.

All too often, employers risked hefty fines for safety violations instead of abiding by the rules designed to keep workers safe from harm on the job. 

Chicago Employer in Top Ten of Highest 2017 OSHA Penalties

During the past year, OSHA assessed serious fines against companies all over the country.  The biggest was the $2.6 Million penalty against an Alabama group for the horrific death of a worker who was crushed to death inside an automated robotic stamping machine used to stamp automotive parts.  The companies involved were Joon LLC dba Ajin USA; Alliance HR Inc. dba Alliance Total Solutions, and Joynus Staffing Corporation.

However, also on the Top Ten List of Most Serious Violations in 2017 involves an employer much closer to home, a company employing around 500 workers in the Chicago area.

Three Worker Injury Amputations per Year

The company is BWAY Corporation, and is listed as a manufacturer of rigid metal, plastic and hybrid containers.  Over half a million dollars in fines ($503,380.00) were assessed by OSHA against BWAY.  Additionally, the company was added to the OSHA Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA discovered five serious safety violations at the Chicago BWAY plant and confirmed that since 2012, fifteen (15) workers had been so seriously hurt on the job that they suffered amputations. 

That tallies to 3 amputations per year for this single Illinois manufacturing company in the past five years. 

From the September 2017 news release:

“Lack of machine safety guards and procedures contribute to multiple employee injuries nationwide each year,” said OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb. “Companies must continuously monitor their facilities, and review procedures and training to ensure employees are protected from machine hazards.”

Concerns over Federal Deregulation of OSHA

Back in January, President Trump issued an Executive Order that requires all federal agencies to cut two (2) regulations for every new regulation that is proposed.  See, Executive Order signed on January 30, 2017.

While this Executive Order has been challenged, and revised, it remains the law of the land today.  And it is a clear signal to employers as well as OSHA that the federal oversight of employer compliance of safety regulations will not be as intense in 2017 and future years as it may have been in the past.  See, “Updated OSHA agenda reflects Trump administration’s focus on de-regulation,” published by Safety and Health Magazine on August 27, 2017.

Of course, there are already arguments to be made that OSHA oversight has never been sufficient to keep companies from putting profits over people and making sure that there were sufficient safety structures in place to keep worker safe from harm.

Too many employers and workers are seriously and fatally injured every year in this country for anyone to argue that safety compliance is succeeding in keeping workers safe from being killed on the job.

New Head for OSHA Is Former Trucking Industry Executive

This month, Scott Mugno was nominated to take over OSHA with the official title of “Assistant Secretary of Labor.”  His background?  Mr. Mugno runs the delivery operations for Federal Express Corporation.  FedEx trucks operate under his oversight – until he takes over OSHA (assuming Congressional confirmation).

According to OSHA, Mr. Mugno is a “dedicated safety professional.”  The Trucking Industry approves.

In a news release by American Trucking Association, Scott Mugno is congratulated for the appointment to lead OSHA by the biggest trucking industry trade association in the country. 

From American Trucking Association President Chris Spear:

“Scott is a very familiar face to ATA, having been a longtime and active member in our organization.  Throughout that whole time, he has been a strong and committed voice for safety and responsibility. He is an outstanding choice to lead OSHA and I look forward to working with him after his swift confirmation.”

Trucking Industry Insider and Safety over Profits

We’ve discussed the impact of the American Trucking Association on truck driver safety and truck crashes before.  It was the American Trucking Association who filed lawsuits to delay or block federal regulations designed to boost trucker safety with new Hours of Service Rules.  See:

To have an insider of the trucking industry at the helm of the federal safety organization does give pause. Will there be a focus on safety or on the budget and the bottom line?

Safety Regulations and Profit Margins

From the perspective of accident attorneys advocating for victims of serious and fatal truck crashes and others who are injured or killed on the job, having strong and effective regulatory oversight of employers is vital to keeping people safe.

Not just the employees, but others who may also be killed or seriously hurt in an on the job accident.  Third party victims of an employer’s failure to use care over employee safety can include passengers and drivers of vehicles in truck crashes and other motor vehicle accidents, among other things.

OSHA Regulations are vital to the safety of workers and others – and while the failure to comply with these regulations can be evidence in an injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim, the better result is enforcement of safety rules that prevent the incident in the first place.

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Worker accidents — including notably Semi-Truck crashes — are a serious danger in our part of the country.  Let’s be careful out there!

 

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