protection, a policy your employee understands. Unfortunately, even though his hardhat is in his truck, he chose not to wear
it or forgot to put it on. The employee’s actions (or inactions)
lead to a $1,000 citation by OSHA.
The OSHA fine is only the first consequence. You’ll also
face the possibility of additional inspections. Any repeat
violations could produce a fine at a significantly higher rate.
There is also the potential that some customers will label your
company a liability or safety risk.
But what was the impact on the employee? A verbal
reprimand perhaps. Additional training. Maybe just a
plea to “please wear your hardhat in the future.” No real
consequences. No financial or other loss.
The employer bears almost all of the consequences.
ScenArio 2: inJur Y
You send a service technician out on a service call
to troubleshoot and repair an MPD (Multi Product
Dispenser). The tech goes through the unit and determines
the problem is on the electronic side of the dispenser. He
has the parts on his truck and starts to make the repair.
Your company has a policy that power must be disconnected and lockout/tagout applied when working on a dispenser. However, the tech—who has another call to make as
soon as this job is complete—decides it will take too long to
deenergize the MPD and apply lockout/tagout. Rather than
follow your policy, he attempts the repair while the unit is
energized and almost immediately receives a shock. When
he feels the jolt, he jerks his hand away and in the process
cuts himself on a sharp edge inside the cabinet. He completes the repair but then drives himself to the emergency
room, where he receives 10 stitches. He is back to work that
This injury is a recordable incident (because care beyond
first aid was required). At the end of the year, you realize
that your EMR has gone up to 1. 10—higher than it has
been in previous years. This incident, along with the guy
who hurt his back, the office assistant who slipped on the
wet floor, and the worker who fell off of the ladder all played
a role in the increase. Unfortunately, your best customer—
the one that represents 40 percent of your annual income—
has a new policy that all its contractors must have an EMR
below 1.05. You can no longer work for this customer, so
40 percent of your previous year’s gross income is gone. (We
will leave the negative impact on your workers compensation
premiums for another day.)
iS there A Better wAY?
In each of these scenarios, the company takes one or more
major hits for the employee’s carelessness. And that seems
fair enough. But what about the employee? Is it fair that the
employee suffers essentially no consequences?
In my opinion, if safety is a condition of commerce for
employers, it is reasonable to expect that safety be a condition of employment for employees.
Fourth Quarter 2010 | pei journal | 1 0 1