Safety and OSHA News

Company will reinvent its safety program to settle OSHA fines

A company with 14 affiliates spread across the country has agreed to pay a $34,750 fine to settle OSHA citations. That doesn’t sound too bad for a big, nationwide construction company. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

OSHA’s press release puts it best: Nations Roof and its 14 affiliated companies “have agreed to completely reinvent a uniform safety and health program.”

This is an example of OSHA’s enterprise-wide settlement agreements.

Under the agreement with OSHA, Nations Roof will:

  • appoint safety/health directors for all the companies
  • require the safety director and a supervisory employee at each company to complete OSHA’s 30-hour construction safety course
  • require the safety directors to become certified to teach the 30-hour course
  • send all other potentially exposed employees to OSHA’s 10-hour safety course plus eight additional hours dedicated to fall protection
  • develop site-specific safety plans at each work site and review them daily with employees
  • have a foreman inspect every active work site daily
  • audit four active work sites of each affiliate per year
  • institute a safety and health curriculum in its management development program
  • implement performance reviews for all affiliate presidents and safety directors
  • submit compliance reports to OSHA
  • report jobs, injuries and illness to OSHA, and
  • allow OSHA to monitor compliance with the agreement.

What do you think about this OSHA settlement? Is it preferable to OSHA levying a much larger fine but not requiring the company to reinvent its safety program? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Captain Safety says:

    In my opinion, there has been too much focus on enforcement and not enough on compliance assistance in recent years. Having the company “reinvent” their safety & health program, I think, will have a greater and more positive impact on this company than just making them pay a heftier fine. You would think a company of this size would have had these things in place; being a Safety Director for a construction company, I am familiar with keeping up with multiple work sites. One thing that I do not see mentioned is establishment of a Safety Committee. A committee is very beneficial, especially if you have multiple sites and are not able to monitor them closely as frequently as you would like.

  2. I agree with the good Captain Safety – I think efforts like this to “reinvent” their safety & health program is more likely to change their safety culture than a heftier fine would be. Having to stay in contact with OSHA for compliance reports should help ensure these measures actually happen. If the company still fails to comply, then hit them with the hefty fine.

  3. As a safety director with a construction co. I was surprised that these practces were not already in place. We are not as large as the named co. and we do all this and more. I agree that OSHA should do more things like this. Levying fines will not do as much good.

  4. This is exactly where OSHA needs to be. If this would have been just a fine that’s all OSHA or their employees would have gotten out of it. A fine.
    I’m all for reduced fines for first time problem employers like the roofing company but having OSHA in an informal conference ask the employer……. “what can you do for us” is where OSHA needs to be. If they don’t follow through with “how they intend to help their employees” then citations with larger fines would be in order.
    I worked for Federal OSHA for 15 years and when I had an informal conference I would ask the employer……..if you put safety information in employees checks weekly for 6 months, develop and send us a copy of a quarterly safety newsletter sent to all your employees, show verification of weekly safety meetings, notes on daily job briefings, etc. I’ll lower your fine and possibly reclassify your citation. If you don’t follow through….well…suffer the consequences.

  5. I am the attorney that represented Nations Roof in this case. Many of these obligations were already in place, despite OSHA’s representation that the safety program was reinvented.

  6. Phillip, what about the suggestion of a safety committe for each affiliate site? are the affiliates large enough to have a top down 5-7 person committe at each one?

  7. I agree with everyone saying this is where and how OSHA should be working with companies. Let’s face it, the companies can build in the cost of fines and just call it the cost of doing business and go on. This actually makes them at least go through the motions to enact a full safety program. Now the proof will be in follow up inspections where the employees are asked how the safety program is going and finally in seeing losses reduced. I hope they don’t try the old “Independent Contractor” scam with their employees now.

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