In 2008 Federal OSHA revised the standards CFR 1910.132 on the employers responsibility in providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees. Apparently there was some confusion among some employers on this revision and in December of 2008 Federal OSHA issued a Trade News Release to clarify the importance of providing PPE and the appropriate training to employees.
“The rule revises OSHA standards to clarify that, for employers to be in compliance, the must provide PPE equipment and hazards training for each employee covered by the standard”
“Each employee not protected may be considered a separate violation and penalties assessed accordingly. This revised language is consistent with language in other standards for which per-employee citationshave been upheld”.
Let’s say you have 20 employees and you have a safety program and policy. You give all employees safety glasses and tell them to wear them but do not form eye safety training. An OSHA compliance officer walks in to conduct a compliance inspection and observes 6 employees not wearing safety glasses and they are performing jobs where safety glasses are required. Prior to December 2008 the company would get one citation and one penalty for the 6 employees. Now the company would be cited for each employee not wearing safety glasses and receiving hazard training along with the safety glasses. Also, since the remaining employees did not receive hazard training and they were wearing safety glasses, the employer would probably be cited for failure to train each employee on eye safety and hazards to eye sign. If the employees who were wearing safety glasses and were trained there would by no additional citations, it would only apply to those not trained and wearing safety glasses.
The case goes back over 16 years to a GM plant in Oklahoma City. A conveyor was activated by an employee who was not aware that the unit was being worked on. This resulted in another employee being killed instantly when the conveyor caught him by the head.
The OSHA inspection revealed that the power to the conveyor had not been locked out for the maintenance resulting in several lockout/tag out violations. Further investigation also revealed that all employees had not been trained in lockout/tag out. Under the per employee basis for training in lockout/tag out, OSHA calculated the penalty for each employee in the facility coming up with a penalty of $2.78 million dollars. The key was in the language of the standard “instruct each employee” triggers the per employee penalty. GM appealed and had the penalty reduced to $692,000, but the point of the matter is the accident was preventable through training and enforcement.
Now that this calculation for penalties has received legal sanction, expect OSHA to use it more.
Train all of your employees.
Sources: OSHA and SCA