Will OSHA let me off the hook?

By: November 11th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt from the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition, by Terry Jo Gile. To purchase this book, click here.

There is always the chance that you’ll run into an LSO’s worst nightmare: employees who disregard safety procedures despite disciplinary action, consultation, and evident risks to themselves and those around them.

Fortunately, OSHA does provide a small amount of leeway in this area, but only with the proper documentation. OSHA will not fine or cite employees, but the regulator may waive a fine if the facility proves it was an isolated incident of unpreventable employee misconduct. To waive a fine, you’ll need to establish the following:

  • A thorough safety program, including work rules, training, and equipment designed to prevent violation

Documentation: A written safety and health program such as the Exposure Control Plan and the PPE section of the Bloodborne Pathogens Policy

  • Adequate communication of these rules to employees

Documentation: The signature of the employee proving that he or she has read the policy

  • Steps to discover and correct violations of its safety rules

Documentation: Your written progressive disciplinary policy. Check with your human resource department.

  • Effective enforcement of its safety program as written in practice and not just in theory.

Documentation: A written reprimand of the employee based on the progressive disciplinary program.

For this reason, it is particularly important to document all instances of training, infractions, warnings, consultations, and educational opportunities.


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