Unannounced MIOSHA inspections can add up to employer fines

It appears MIOSHA (the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has ramped up its “unannounced” inspections this past year with small business machine and repair shops and buildering contractors, both in General Industry or Construction categories.  Fines have been levied.  The wise adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely has an application when it comes to safety in the workplace.

A multi-year review of the top 10 most frequently cited MIOSHA and OSHA violations show that violation types have remained fairly constant.  BCN Services will be dedicating this blog to safety issues throughout 2018 to raise awareness, educate and remediate the most serious of these violations.

No matter what the violation, the safety inspector always wants to see training plans.  When inspectors arrive, they check to see if the employer has properly trained employees regarding worksite hazards.  As a client of BCN Services, you have access, at no charge, to state-of-the-art, OSHA-compliant online safety courses for each of the following top 10 most serious violations, according to MIOSHA statistics:

  1. Lacking a hazard communication program – average fine: $512*
  2. Non-operational emergency eye flush stations – average fine: $933
  3. No effective information or training of chemicals – average fine: $497
  4. No written respiratory protection program – average fine: $865
  5. Exposure to air contaminants exceeding established exposure limits – average fine: $5,355
  6. Failure to provide appropriate eye and face protection – average fine: $565

Combined with no effective personal protective equipment training – average fine:  $690

  1. No program in place to determine if employees have a reasonable exposure to bloodborne infectious diseases – average fine: $820
  2. Failure to provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator – average fine: $596
  3. No written exposure control plan – average fine: $173
  4. No hearing conservation program when noise exposures equal or exceed the action level – average fine: $1,850

In addition to the above, there are several additional violations which include:

  • Lack of machine guarding
  • Improper wiring methods, components and equipment
  • Lack of forklift training
  • No fall protection program
  • Improper use of portable ladders
  • Using powered staplers and nailers with no proper eye protection
  • Employer not providing a safety harness when using an aerial lift

Once a fine is levied, MIOSHA will return to the employer’s site for follow-up.  Failure to correct a previously cited violation will result in additional fines averaging $2,554 per violation.

BCN Services’ safety program has dedicated resources providing safety walk-throughs, written programs, online safety training and recommendations at no charge for all of the above cited violations.  Our online safety programs average 15 minutes per course topic.  We also provide the OSHA 10-hour General Industry courses at least once per year by certified trainers.

Look for more specific information regarding the above in the coming year through our safety blogs.

Take advantage of all these resources and experience that “ounce of prevention” in 2018 for employee safety and peace of mind.  Call the Risk Management Department at BCN Services today at 734-994-4100, ext. 108 to access these programs.

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

When disaster strikes, employers must be prepared with a solid plan

A disaster can be defined as an accident, or natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.  Certainly, there have been several, large natural disasters recently ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes.

On a smaller scale, a disaster could also encompass issues isolated to your office causing a disruption in business, such as an office fire or broken water pipe.

It is important for your business to develop and implement a detailed disaster recovery plan for a variety of situations. But with such a wide array of potential disasters, it can be difficult to know how to start the planning process.  Below are a few starting points as well as additional resources to aid you in the process:

  • Form an emergency planning team comprised of managers and staff who understand business operations and can brainstorm worse-case scenarios. The team should develop an emergency action plan based on its findings for each scenario.  Employees should then be trained on how to carry out the plan.
  • Protect business operations by involving your technology staff. They can develop an infrastructure with cloud-based backups or off-site servers to ensure continuity of your operation. You should also have a contingency plan outlining how you will access this data and continue operations if you lose access to your physical place of business.
  • Review insurance policies for adequate coverage that will pay for direct and indirect costs of the disaster. Speak with your insurance agent to determine if any additional policies are needed based upon your emergency action plan.  This may include cyber insurance or business-interruption insurance.
  • Develop a communication plan in the event of a disaster. Consider how you will notify employees when a disaster occurs and how you will continue to keep them updated.  Also, consider how and what you will communicate with your customers. As part of your plan, have language in place that can be readily used for emails or other types of communication both with your staff and your customers, if needed.
  • Finally, because business operations, employees and relationships change over time, it is important to have a periodic review of your emergency plans and make changes as necessary.

If you need additional resources or help developing your plans, OSHA is available to provide training and support including their publication, “How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations”.  Other free resources are offered by The American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/workplaces-and-organizations) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (https://www.ready.gov/business). The experts at BCN Services are also available to consult with you and guide you through this process.

 

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Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager