Does a Well Disciplined Program Help to Avoid an OSHA Fine?

Discipline has a “pro-employee” purpose and is the cornerstone of an effective safety management program. If you analyze the role of discipline by the elements of the OSHA Affirmative Defense of “Unpreventable Employee Misconduct” you will easily see its importance.

-For this defense to be invoked:
-Establish work rules designed to ensure safe work and to avoid OSHA violations
-Communicate the work rules to employees
-Train the employees as needed
-Take appropriate steps to discover violations
-Effectively enforce the rules and practices when violations are discovered
-Document the above actions

However, some people have a concern that discipline may sometimes not be beneficial. Here are some reasons why discipline benefits everyone:

-Removes poor performers in the workplace
-Creates limits for employees
-Improves morale when employees see good/bad behavior recognized
-Limits potential negligent retention and negligent supervision claims
-Provides the necessary accountability for an effective safety program
-Consistent discipline avoids the appearance of discrimination and unfairness

Discipline can be a key element in ensuring safety in your workplace. This may seem counter-intuitive because some people would tell you to avoid discipline so that employees do not have a disincentive to comply; however, if you use discipline consistently, it can be your ally.

The Facts
Millions of people work on construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries.
Potential hazards for workers in construction include falls (from heights); trench collapse; scaffold collapse; electric shock and arc flash/arc blast; failure to use proper personal protective equipment; and repetitive motion injuries.

The OSHA standards most frequently included in the industry’s citations are:
Scaffolding; fall protection (scope, application, and definitions as well as training requirements); Excavations (both general requirements and requirements for protective systems); Ladders; Head protection; Hazard communication; Construction (general safety and health provisions); Electrical (wiring methods, design and protection)

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