Safety and OSHA News

Can an injury log violation lead to a fine even if you got safety right in every other way?

Have you ever wondered if OSHA would fine your company over a Form 300 violation even if you got everything else right as far as safety is concerned? This court case shows it will. 

In a case that came before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), a company had several serious safety violations dropped after proving it dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” when it came to safety, but still had to pay a $1,600 fine for keeping a sloppy OSHA 300 log.

Bergelectric Corp. was hired to install the electrical system for a renovation of the San Manuel Casino in Highland, CA.

On April 29, 2017, an employee working in the building’s rafters fell 24 feet to the floor of the casino, suffering broken ribs and fractures to his spine.

Because the incident occurred on a tribal reservation, which is subject to federal jurisdiction, federal OSHA was called in to conduct the investigation.

Inspectors found the worker wasn’t connected to a fall protection device at the time of the incident, and citations for three serious violations targeting the company’s fall protection program and one other-than-serious violation for a 300 log violation were issued.

Bergelectric contested the citations, and the case was brought before the OSHRC.

During the proceedings, the company produced the Activity Hazard Analysis it prepared for the project, which addresses the specific hazards employees would encounter.

The analysis detailed the fall hazards and gave detailed information on what fall protection equipment to use and where and how to connect it. It also provided information on rescue plans and procedures, training, inspection, and other hazard-related issues.

Records of the tool-box talks and safety meetings all employees engaged in on a daily basis before beginning work at the project site were also provided.

The company also offered documentation of disciplinary action it took against employees who violated its safety policies.

Bergelectric’s detailed hazard analysis for the project and all the other documentation it provided played a major role in swaying the court to drop the serious violations.

300 log entries too vague

However, while the majority of the company’s documents were perfectly managed and presented, the 300 log was a different story.

Under the entry for the incident in question, the company didn’t include the specific injury suffered, the part of the body affected, or the cause of the injury.

The entry said only “multiple injuries” to “multiple body systems,” according to the OSHRC decision.

Other entries made before this incident were also lacking in details, specifically in sections regarding where incidents occurred and what caused the injury or illness.

Bergelectric requested a 25% reduction to the penalty because of its good-faith efforts, but the court upheld the full $1,630 fine because the 300 log entries were “woefully deficient.”

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Comments

  1. Bob Poll says:

    As always with these articles, the details are rather skimpy to truly judge the issue. But in this case where the company involved seemed to be really trying hard to do everything right and was apparently not leaving off entries on the 300, just not entering them as well as could be desired (details that could presumably be found in other records if truly desired), this is a really obnoxious citation. The inspector following up on a serious incident apparently missed multiple key details involving the diligence of the company’s safety program as specifically related to the incident (daily briefings, a well-written and complete AHA, strong worker training, and history of enforcement and discipline for non-conformance enforcement of requirements – all missed???) but did find the time to go over the 300 Log in some detail to make sure the wording suited him/her. One can’t help but get the feeling that in the wake of this serious incident that OSHA was more interested in simply finding things they could issue citations/fines for than in investigating what really happened and why. And the OSHRC’s willingness to uphold such an approach serves no benefit to employees or employers, it just reinforces the inadequate regulator behavior.

  2. Glenn Camp says:

    We had a similar incident at my previous employer’s location when the two OSHA inspectors could only cite us for “lack of detail” on the location of an injury on the log. This was the only citation we had from the visit. We indicated the building and line where the incidents happened, but the inspector said they wanted the specific machine identified. All of the machines were the same, but there were 8 of them in the building numbered 1-8 to identify them.

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