How to Avoid OSHA Fines

Number 1 on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s list of low hanging fruit for citations is documentation.

OSHA is a significant contributor to the federal income stream… bringing in more money than they spend due to all the citations they issue.

Part of an OSHA inspector’s performance evaluation is actually based on the quantity of citations they write!

OSHA has huge incentives to find all sorts of fun ways to write you up and ruin your day. But take a deep breath because there are some great resources available to ensure that your company and employees are all on the same page and well protected from pesky OSHA inspectors and their strict citation. Fees can often be reduced and even waived if you fix a citation voluntarily as soon as possible and communicate with your inspectors.

Keeping your records of documentation, aka recordkeeping, in order is just as important. Some records have to be kept for 30 years after an employee’s departure from your company such as HIV/AIDS and TB tests – initial and annual!

Documentation includes writing up the content of the material covered, the regulation number, and the date and signature of the person who completed the task. Everything from monthly fire extinguisher checks to emergency planning to procedures on cleaning hazardous substances – if you think to yourself, “Should I document this?” then you should probably document it. That brings me to this week’s Insider Tip.

Insider Tip: you can actually call your local OSHA office and ask them questions – the best part is you don’t even have to reveal who you are. They are happy to help you and answer your questions; with this trick, you can get the answer you need, protect yourself from citations, and correct your method if you discover you’ve been doing something wrong. For extra safety from citations, make a note of who you spoke to, the date you spoke to them, and record that note in your documentation. That way, if an auditor goes through your records, they’ll know exactly why you documented something the way you did, giving you an extra boost on compliance protection!

Remember to document, because if it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen!

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