Posts Tagged ‘OSHA’

OSHA Testing Can Reduce Employer Liability, Saves Companies Money

This guest post was contributed by Joseph A. Ginarte. He is a specialist New York accident lawyer and the proprietor of the Ginarte Law firm. He enjoys writing and sharing his insights on various legal blogs.

Every day, more than twelve workers die on the job, which adds up to a total of 4,500 worker fatalities each year. Another 4.1 million workers suffer serious injury or illness related to their jobs, according to a white paper published by Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor (OSHA).While it’s not possible to prevent every accident, the need to promote safety in the workplace is obvious. Programs designed to prevent workplace injury and illness are well established in countries like Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan, Korea and all the 27 member states of he European Union.  In addition 15 states in the United States, including California, require such programs.

Yet many business owners resist mandatory workplace inspections and tighter safety regulations imposed by OSHA. Conventional wisdom claims that safety testing and workplace regulations, such as those imposed represent a job-killing financial drain on businesses. However, the results of a study conducted in May 2012 by researchers at the Harvard Business School, the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and Boston University soundly refute those assertions. In fact, the study shows that OSHA testing can actually result in significant savings for companies along with reducing company liability.

Reduced Employer Liability

According to the study, workplaces in high hazard industries that had been subject to random OSHA inspections reported a reduction of 9.4 percent in injury claims. This reduction in claims translated to savings of 26 percent in workers’ compensation costs in the four years following the inspections.  These figures were compiled in comparison with a similar number of uninspected companies in the same high hazard industries.

Significant Savings

The average savings to companies that had undergone OSHA inspections was $355,000 US, according to the study. Further, savings were realized in workers’ compensation claims as small as $2,000 US as well as much larger.  The study also found absolutely no evidence that workplace inspections had a negative impact on company profits.

In their original report, the researchers estimated that if the conditions of the study were duplicated across the entire country, the potential savings could total as much as $6 billion US to employers and employees, when compensation for pain and suffering are excluded. However, as a result of more recent research, the study’s researchers revised their estimate of savings upward in June 2012, from $6 billion US to $20 billion US.

Objective Measurements

The study was able to overcome design and bias flaws present in earlier studies by taking advantage of a 1993 California mandate that requires the California division of OSHA to conduct random workplace inspections. The study looked ad companies that were randomly inspected between 1996 and 2006, along with a similar number of companies that were not inspected. The number of injuries recorded from both groups of companies was drawn from worker compensation claims and other independent sources. By contrast, previous studies of this type had not used random data. Instead, all of the workplaces studied had been the site of a workplace accident or complaint. The information was drawn from OSHA logs, which often become more detailed as time passes.

 

For Further Reading

  • Harvard Business School: New Study Shows That Workplace Inspections Save Lives, Don’t Destroy Jobs
    hbs.edu/news/releases/toffelscience051712.html
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Injury and Illness Prevention Programs – White Paper
    osha.gov/dsg/topics/safetyhealth/OSHAwhite-paper-january2012sm.pdf
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Interesting Bill in Congress Imposes Prison Term for Safety Violations

I got tipped off about HB 2067, introduced by California U.S. Rep Lynn Woolsey, from Finance-Commerce.com.   Styled the “Protecting America’s Workers Act,” the bill’s summary explains that it would let the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforce stiffer penalties for willful safety violations that result in serious injury or death.”

What kind of stiffer penalties?    Well, many are concerned that the bill could extend criminal liability to foremans, superintendents and safety directors within an organization.

Is this a serious problem?   Will this bill gain traction?

The folks at 16deathsperday.com would argue the problem is serious, and certainly hope that the bill moves through congress.    According to the organization, 16 workers are killed each day in the United States “because of reckless negligence on the part of their employers.”

If HB 2067 becomes law, and this organization’s numbers are correct, that could expose employees and owners to stiffer penalties and possible criminal sanctions 16 times per day.

Track the bill over at OpenCongress.org here, and stay tuned to the Monitor for future updates if this thing gets pushed through.

Posted in:     Federal, Safety  /  Tags: , , ,   /   Leave a comment

Watch Your Step – Safety Lessons for Small Independent Contractors

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of a construction management degree online. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com.

After working in heavy construction or home-building for many years, some feel like they are ready to take on small jobs on their own or maybe even start their own small business.  This can be a great and satisfying way to earn some money and be your own boss.

Regardless of the size of your construction operation, there are some main guidelines that need to be kept in mind when running a reputable small construction business.  Not taking care of things in the right way could end up costing you a lot of time and money if you’re not careful.  So, make sure that you take care of business before going into business for yourself.

Make Sure You’re Covered

If you are planning on taking on jobs of even a very small scale, you need to have the proper insurances in order.  General liability policies are fairly affordable and won’t cut in to your overhead too much.  The average general liability policy for a small scale independent contractor is between one and five million dollars.  Rates will vary from location to location, but the money you spend may end up saving you from major liabilities later on down the line.

OSHA Compliance

From safety goggles to steel-toed boots, whatever the OSHA requirements for the job you’re working on happen to be—comply with them.  You may think that a luxury of owning your own business should make this less important, but all safety precautions must be taken at all times.  Often, if you are investigated by the insurance company and are found to be negligent, your claims may not be covered, and you will be personally liable.

Maintain Equipment and Vehicles

Properly maintained vehicles and tools will save you time and money down the road for sure, but will also help prevent any unforeseen accidents related to the equipment.  Make sure that you have pneumatic tools serviced regularly, which is often done for free by fastener sales reps when you purchase from them exclusively.  Vehicle maintenance should be done at a reputable location; save all receipts and records of maintenance on vehicles and equipment.

Verify Employees

With new compliance laws going into effect for large companies in the coming weeks, there will be a light of employment issues in the news.  Don’t get caught up in the politics.  Simply make sure that your employees are properly documented and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Posted in:     Around The Web, Construction News, Insurance  /  Tags: , ,   /   1 Comment

Construction Accidents Happen Everyday…

I’ve recently set up certain Google Alerts and subscribed to a few RSS feeds that provide updates regarding construction safety standards, issues and problems. Most surprising about the information being distributed is just how often construction accidents happen.

Just last week, I was alerted to an incident in Atlanta where a pedestrian bridge under construction had collapsed leaving one dead and 15 others injured.

On the morning of that accident, a construction company began what they thought was just another morning. As 2009 approaches, it’s nearly certain that they are restlessly pouring through their insurance policies, speaking to authorities, worrying about OSHA fines and lawsuits, calculating the project’s new delay and having other thoughts that make it increasingly difficult for them to continue work as usual.

A construction accident like this is devastating for two reasons: First, people die and get hurt. Second, your construction business has enormous liability exposure and can plummet into a downward spiral of bureaucracy and legal headache.

The legal and economical problems associated with a construction accident like this are nearly unmeasurable. A problem like this can happen to your company, and so it’s important to take precautions.

A good place to get started? Try the OSHA online assistance center for the Construction Industry.

Here are some other blogs about construction safety that publish great information about the topic on a day-to-day basis:

While we haven’t posted on construction safety in the past here at the Construction Law Monitor, we will be keeping an eye on these important issues and making further mention of them. Stay tuned.

Posted in:     Around The Web, Safety  /  Tags: , , , , ,   /   Leave a comment