Posts Tagged ‘Enforcement’

OSHA Fines Auto Parts and Used Car Dealer $49,000 for Safety and Health Violations: Conclusion

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Yesterday’s post discussed training violations OSHA issued to a parts and used car dealership in Illinois. Physical hazards were also a large part of the 14 safety and 6 health violations facing the company.
Here is the list of physical hazard citations from Bill Smith Auto Parts, Inc, along with recommendations for improvement.*

 

Violation image Violation descriptions and recommendations for improvement
Missing machine guarding 

This usually happens on parts grinders. Check the machine for side guards, correct adjustments on the tool rests and tongue guards, and proper anchoring. If in doubt, this 2 min. video gives a good overview of grinder safety.

Improperly maintained industrial trucks 

Check that forklifts and other lift trucks are maintained in working order according to the manufacturer’s recommendations through. You should include documentation of maintenance.

 

This could also be a housekeeping issue. Outdated and unused equipment should be removed from the premises.

Improperly stored hazardous materials 

If they are flammable, containers need to be grounded, or outfitted with a bonding wire.

All containers need to be approved for their contents, and they need to have lids. Document inspections storage areas, and everything should be labeled.

Lack of guarding on open-sided floors 

All elevated work surfaces, including but not limited to alignment or lube racks, in ground lube pits and storage platforms should have proper fall protection measures.

Failing to properly store compressed gas cylinders 

Compressed gas cylinders should be securely fastened to rigid structures so they won’t fall or be knocked over.

Lack of guarding on pulleys and other equipment lower than 7 feet from the floor: struck-by hazards 

Replace guards/restraints on pulleys to ensure safe operation.

Damaged electrical cords in use 

A very common problem that poses a serious shock hazard. The damaged cord should be replaced. Never splice an electrical cord as a repair method, and make sure the cord is the right length to avoid using extension cords as permanent wiring. This handy Extension Cord Checklist is available for more information about shock hazards.

Unlabeled hazardous material containers  

Apply a “Hazardous Waste” label to the container and fill out the required information. Typically, this violation is cited with language like “potentially hazardous waste” because in general, the inspector does not actually test contents of each and every barrel. That is why all containers need to be labeled, including “non-hazardous waste.”

Use your imagination. Unsanitary conditions in restroom 

You might not be familiar with OSHA code 29 CFR 1910.141, but it requires that all restroom facilities, particularly those accessible to employees, remain clean and sanitary at all times.

Failing to post visible “no smoking” signs in areas where flammable materials were present 

All areas where smoking is prohibited in the facility must be labeled “no smoking or open flame.” Including flammable or combustible storage areas.

For more information, read this post, “Danger in Detail.”

“Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and for following OSHA standards to ensure the safety and health of their workers,” explains Tom Bielema, director for OSHA’s Peoria office. While Bill Smith Auto Parts is working with OSHA to use the inspection report as an opportunity for improvement, all  of these violations are avoidable, and precautionary measures should be part of your facility’s daily routine.

This is an opportunity for you to look over your facility, check your paperwork, and share this list with your employees as an educational opportunity, because the best environmental health and safety strategies are supported at every level of the company.

Many, if not all, violations and workplace accidents are preventable with KPA’s services. KPA’s Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) service is designed for dealerships to effectively manage and document safety and environmental compliance. EHS services include regular on-site facility visits conducted by a professional with environmental safety compliance experience including OSHA and EPA, an electronic MSDS database, online training courses, required signage and labels, and 24 hour hotlines. All of this information is available at your fingertips through myKPAonline.com, which features a dashboard indicating your facility’s overall level of environmental health and safety.

In the event of an emergency – including inspection visits by federal or state inspectors – your KPA engineer is only a phone call away.
*images are from KPA’s database, and do not represent the exact conditions at Smith Auto Parts.

ICE Crackdown on Employers of Illegal Immigrants

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security,  announced a new  audit office,  the Employment Compliance Inspection Center.   The center will be staffed with specialists who will reveiw I-9 employee files collected during audits. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2010, ICE conducted audits of more than 2,740 companies, nearly twice as many as the previous year. The agency levied a record $7 million in civil fines on businesses that employed illegal workers.  Employers must complete the I-9 form within three days of hire and all documentation must be accurate.

Tamara Lischer, PHR, CA-PHR and HotlinkHR Client advocate dicusses best practices for ensuring your I-9 forms are in compliance.

 

Always Confirm Employment Eligibility With E-Verify

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  is cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens   Make sure that you complete an I-9 form within three days of hire and take the extra step of confirming eligibility to work in the United States but using E- Verify. Not all employers are required to use E-Verify but every employer should..   E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.

Click here to learn more or to sign up for E-Verify.  http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm

KPA offers a free webinar on What Employers Must know about Immigration Control and Enforcement. Check it out at

http://www.kpaonline.com/news-and-events/webinars/recorded-webinars.html

Is this tip helpful for your business?  Please share your thoughts and experiences about using E-Verify with the KPA blog community.

OMB Watch reports drastic increase in OSHA citations for 2010

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

A new study by OMB Watch finds that the Obama administration has noticeably increased enforcement of workplace safety laws, and supporting data also showed that the administration was making consumer health and environmental regulations enforcement tougher.

In 2009, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than 68,000 citations – more than twice the amount of citations issued the previous year by the Bush administration. In 2010, the drastic trend upwards continued with citations skyrocketing at almost 114,000 by the middle of July.  You do the math and you can see how many citations might be issued in 2011 – maybe triple that amount and add a few more.

OMB Watch reported seeing similar trends at other agencies but none were quite as steep in comparison to the previous administration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) increased the average amount for a fine against the Clean Water Act by nearly one-third during the Obama administration’s first 18 months; however, the penalties for serious violations were issued at a slightly slower rate compared to that of the preceding administration.

Please read more about OSHA safety compliance and how KPA can help you find a solution to support your dealership’s safety culture.

I2P2 Top Priority on OSHA’s Fall Regulatory Agenda

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

OSHA bannerAmong the other regulatory updates in OSHA’s semi-annual agenda that was released on December 20th in the Federal Register, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) was said to be at the top of OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michael’s priority list. We have been hearing a lot about I2P2 lately, but if you are unfamiliar with the program, it would require employers to find and fix hazards, and plan, implement, evaluate, and improve workplace processes and activities in the interest of protecting workers’ safety and health.

“OSHA believes that an injury and illness prevention program is a universal intervention that can be used in a wide spectrum of workplaces to dramatically reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries,” the agenda states. “Such programs have been shown to be effective in many workplaces in the United States and internationally.”

Other updates on regulatory actions including modernizing recording and reporting requirements, infectious diseases, OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), proposed combustible dust rule, proposal for an MSD Column on the OSHA 300 log, and the proposed Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) rule. Find out more information at http://www.dol.gov/regulations.

Read more about how a KPA safety program help you meet compliance with the I2P2 standard.

National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping (NEP) targets manufacturing, larger worksites, and facilities with high injury rates

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

On September 28, 2010, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised directive to its federal pilot National Emphasis Program (NEP). The instruction to NEP to inspect the accuracy of the Occupational Injury and Illness recording and reporting requirements for establishments in selected industries such as manufacturing, larger worksites, and employers with higher injury rates than in the initial criteria, and to ensure appropriate enforcement of these requirements if employers are found to be underrecording injuries and illnesses.

OSHA launched its “National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping” last year after various academic studies revealed that many companies were underreporting or incorrectly reporting workplace-related injuries and illnesses. Through the NEP, OSHA plans to enforce this type of inaccurate reporting.

The significant NEP changes include:

  • Broadening the industry targeting, with an emphasis on manufacturing.
  • Removing the deletion criterion for establishments that have recalculated days away, restriction, and transfer (DART) rates greater than 4.2. The new DART rate criterion for establishments under the program is greater than 4.2 and less than 8.
  • Increasing comprehensive training of its compliance staff to identify and correct violations of the recordkeeping regulation.
  • on company records from the 2008 and 2009 calendar years.
  • Focusing on company records from the 2008 and 2009 calendar years.

The NEP pilot program will continue through February 2012.

Read more here about this directive.

EPA intends to employ vigorous and targeted civil and criminal enforcement

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

In order to provide effective and consistent enforcement of federal laws nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is stepping up its civil and criminal enforcement by targeting the most serious hazards that relate to air, water, and chemicals. The EPA summarized the measures it will take on how it plans to use “vigorous and targeted” civil and criminal enforcement in the 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan. The plan outlines strategic measures for the criminal enforcement program by taking “aggressive action against pollution problems that make a difference in communities.”

For the first time, the EPA has included the measures it plans to take to enforce these hazards in order to protect human health and the environment, as well as protecting the low-income, minority, and tribal communities which may be disproportionally impacted by these hazards.  The EPA states that in order to achieve these goals, they need both new strategies and compliance to the rules that they already have. This concentrated effort is meant to achieve “increased transparency” so that more of your business’s information will be accessible to the public and the best way to comply would be to become more involved in your facility’s operations.

Some of the specified enforcement maintenance that the EPA will take by 2015 includes:

  • Here are some of the enforcement actions EPA plans to take by 2015:
  • Conduct 105,000 federal inspections and evaluations (FY 2005-2009 baseline: 21,000 annually)
  • Initiate 19,500 civil judicial and administrative enforcement cases and bring 19,000 to a conclusion (FY 2005-2009 baseline: 3,900 )
  • Review overall compliance status of 100 percent of open consent decrees (FY 2009: 100 percent)
  • Increase the percentage of criminal cases with charges filed to 45 percent (FY 2009 baseline: 36 percent)
  • Maintain an 85 percent conviction rate for criminal defendants

For more information, check out the 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan.

Key Lock/Out Programs – Common sense and regulatory requirements aligned

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

A Key Lockout Program should be in place at every heavy truck shop. The danger of a truck starting up when a technician is working in the engine compartment or under the vehicle should be obvious – but if you need an added incentive to get your program up to speed, KPA engineers and clients are reporting an uptick in OSHA enforcement. OSHA inspectors are looking for more than if the facility is locking out the keys to the vehicles, but if they also have a written lockout program. An effective key lockout/tag out (LOTO) program requires lockout equipment and a written program, and training – equipment and written documents will not do much good if employees don’t know how to use them.

According to OSHA, “’Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)’ refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.”

OSHA reports that “3 million workers service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147) prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year”. Sometimes common sense and regulations aren’t always aligned – lockout/tag out programs are an area where they are.

Example elements of a lockout/tagout (LOTO) program are described in the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.147, along with these additional references:

  1. http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf
  2. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/controlhazardousenergy/index.html#program
  3. http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-00-147.pdf

Yet another discrimation lawsuit and settlement in the transportation industry

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Because KPA offers HR compliance consulting and HR software we monitor all of the lawsuits and settlements brought by the EEOC.   Frankly it is rather depressing to me (as an HR professional and as a person)  that 45 years after the EEOC was established there are still so many claims and settlements for discrimination, harassment and retaliation.    My friends who are  employment attorneys could not be more pleased that there seems to be a never ending source of revenue from employers who can’t be bothered with good HR practices UNTIL the lawsuit lands on their desk.

The latest discrimination and retaliation claim settled by a company involved in the transportation industry involves McGriff Industries. McGriff Industries settled the suit for $100,000 along with required activities involving implementing effective anti-discrimination policies and procedures, and training its employees, supervisors and managers on the prohibitions against racial misconduct in the workplace. The company will also be required to develop a system for reporting, investigating and addressing complaints of workplace racial misconduct; hold all employees accountable for engaging in it; and hold supervisors and managers accountable for tolerating or failing to address such misconduct.  

  Let’s review the 4 things employees really must do to ensure they are not next in the list of companies the EEOC has settled with in 2010. 

1) When in doubt on the right thing to do - don’t do anything (don’t fire, don’t hire,) without consulting the experts (your attorney, a certified HR professional) and then listen to what they tell you.

2) Automate processes for hiring, performance management, training and termination with software so you have complete records, and forced compliance to best practices for essential HR process. With the multitude of HR software programs out there at every price point,  some even specialized by industry, there is no excuse not to automate process and force compliance. 

3) Establish policies and procedures for employees to report issues and concern- and respond to them (ethically, humanely and legally).

4) Train, train, train- never assume your managers and employees know what to do and more importantly what not to do to avoid harrassment, discrimination or retaliation.

 Join the conversation: Are you sure your company would survive an EEOC audit?

BP has a dismal safety record, do you?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

760 violations at BP versus 1 at Exxon!

ABC News published an article recently about BP’s dismal safety record, citing that OSHA statistics show BP ran up 760 “egregious, willful” safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation.

The article goes on: in two separate disasters prior to the Gulf oil rig explosion, 30 BP workers have been killed, and more than 200 seriously injured. In the last five years, investigators found, BP has admitted to breaking U.S. environmental and safety laws and committing outright fraud. BP paid $373 million in fines to avoid prosecution.

How does this story apply to dealerships? 760 violations at BP versus 1 at Exxon; does this happen at dealerships? Our engineers visit about 3,000 dealers annually, inspect them on potential OSHA violations, and develop a comprehensive safety program. While we don’t see such a sharp difference as between BP and Exxon, we unfortunately have to admit that we see very large differences between dealers that have a safety culture and those that don’t.  Regrettably the general answer is “yes, there are dismal safety records at certain dealerships.”

In our February newsletter we wrote an article about Group 1 Automotive and Penske Automotive Group taking the lead in compliance management. Though both groups consist of nearly 100 dealer rooftops, these groups have effectively managed their compliance scores to an unbelievable 97% to  98% and have held this level of compliance consistently. To put this in perspective, the average compliance score for a facility prior to getting started with KPA’s safety program is about 85%. Both Group 1 and Penske Automotive Group are not only reaching high level of compliance across one store, they are doing it for all stores, across all states, regardless of the management hierarchy. Essentially, Group 1 and Penske have managed their compliance program to virtually spot free facilities in less than one year.