Last week’s decision by OSHA to cite the producers of “Midnight Rider” for willful and serious violations shows that tougher penalties are needed to prevent workplace deaths, according to the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).
Workplace violence injures employees, causes lost work days
August 15, 2014
Two recent cases of OSHA enforcement illustrate how workplace violence can pose a threat to workers in vastly different industries. Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and psychiatric services to inmates at the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City, was cited by OSHA for knowingly failing to protect its employees adequately against workplace violence and assault.
Correctional officers and other staff at McDowell medium-security federal prison in Welch, West Virginia were potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens and other workplace safety and health hazards, according to OSHA, which has issued notices to the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Disciplining employees for violating safety and health rules is a critical component of any good safety and health program. OSHA's recent policy on employee discipline for violating safety and health rules undercuts the use of such discipline and encourages employees to consider possible claims for retaliation.
Packaging Corporation of America has been cited by OSHA for eight — including five repeat — safety violations for failing to protect workers from amputation and other serious hazards. OSHA initiated an inspection Jan. 21, 2014, after receiving a complaint that workers were reaching in to unjam machines without turning off the machinery.
Home Depot USA Inc. has been cited for six, including two repeat, one willful and three serious safety violations, at its home improvement store on North Kimball Avenue in Chicago. The repeat and willful violations involved lack of training and maintenance for powered industrial vehicles.
OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels issued a memorandum to reiterate OSHA's policy that employee training required by OSHA standards must be presented in a manner that employees can understand, and to provide enforcement guidance to the area and regional offices relative to the agency's training standards.
"Employers and cell tower owners and operators must make sure workers are properly trained and protected, said OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels in issuing a directive to keep communication tower workers safe. The directive follows an alarming increase in preventable injuries and fatalities at communication tower work sites, according to OSHA.