Imagine this: You’ve been fined by OSHA. Not only that, the agency has alerted the media that your actions put your employees in danger. Do you respond, and if so, how?
One company’s response to a hefty OSHA fine got our attention.
OSHA fined Remington Arms Co. $170,000 for 35 serious violations at its Ilion, NY, plant for a variety of mechanical, electrical and chemical hazards.
The violations involve:
- accumulation of lead and cadmium on surfaces
- failing to provide training to workers
- electrical hazards
- unguarded machine parts
- improper storage and transfer of flammable liquids
- lack of lockout/tagout procedures, etc.
The agency’s press release stated,
“Left uncorrected, these conditions expose the plant’s workers to electrocution, falls, burns, lacerations, amputation, crushing and “struck-by” injuries, as well as exposure to hazardous substances and being caught in operating or unintentionally energized machinery.”
OSHA administrator David Michaels has said that these sorts of press releases are meant to cast shame on the company, on top of any penalties it might pay.
And of course, some of the penalties might not stick, either through a negotiation process or an appeal to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
You can bet if some penalties are dropped, OSHA won’t issue a press release on that.
That’s why we took particular notice when Remington issued a strong statement to the media on OSHA’s proposed penalties.
“OSHA has cited Remington for many conditions that do not violate the law and has proposed penalties which are excessive,” Remington spokesperson Jessica Kallam told The Post Standard, a Syracuse, NY, newspaper.
The statement continued, “Remington is committed to providing a safe workplace for every one of its employees and is proud of its safety program, which includes comprehensive safety policies and procedures, equipment to protect our employees and safety training.”
Regional newspapers near Remington’s plant would have covered the company’s OSHA fines whether the employer issued its own statement or not. Chances are, the local newspaper reporter called the company for a response: That’s only fair.
However, issuing a statement provided the newspaper, and its website, with an opportunity to write a second “update” story.
So instead of just one story on its OSHA fines in the local paper and on the Internet, Remington now faces two.
Which raises a question: Is it best to respond or not?
Remington isn’t the first company to issue a response after it’s been fined by OSHA. However, it goes further than most by saying that OSHA overstepped its bounds in both the citations and the amounts of the fines.
It appears Remington will appeal the citations. What if most of them stick? Will it make the company look like it’s in denial about safety hazards at its plant?
Tell us whether you think Remington’s statement was a good idea or not. You can offer your opinion in the comments box below.