Preventing safety violations is an exercise in true compliance and foresight.

Safety Violations are More Than Meets the Eye

The Workplace Today Regulation

Safety violations can mean more than a citation and a fine — they can impact the quality of life for employees affected by the consequences.

Safety violations can mean more than a citation and a fine. They can potentially impact the quality of life for employees affected by the consequences of non-compliance. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 2,000 U.S. workers experience a job-related eye injury requiring medical treatment every single day. Some of these eye injuries are so severe that permanent loss of vision, and sometimes loss of life, occurs. Consider the following real-life safety violations related to, among other things, non-use or improper use of protective eye wear, and how you may be able to protect your employees.

Stories of Real-Life Safety Violations

Case No. 1

A recent OSHA inspection of a Florida roofing contractor found that it continued its seven-year history of ignoring OSHA laws and placing their workers at risk of serious injury or death. Since 2009, OSHA has completed 13 inspections at the contractor’s work sites and found 24 violations. The agency cited this contractor with willful, serious and repeat violations for a lack of fall and eye protection and ladder safety. The contractor’s failure to follow OSHA regulations have resulted in the agency assessing more than $516K in penalties.

Just in 2015, the agency opened five inspections at residential job sites where this roofing contractor was working and found continued violations of the fall protection and eye protection standards. In two of those 2015 inspections, OSHA cited the company with four willful violations and $420,000 in proposed penalties. In addition to the fall protection violations, the OSHA inspectors found the employer failed to ensure workers operating powered nail guns used eye protection.

Case No. 2

A Georga powder coating company is cited by OSHA for 20 violations by exposing workers to a variety of safety and health hazards, including not using eye, face and hand protection where such protective equipment is required by law. OSHA’s proposed penalties total $55,200.

OSHA initiated an inspection through a referral that alleged safety hazards. The agency issued 20 violations for failing to:

  • Ensure employees use eye, face and hand protection while working with hazardous chemicals (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I);
  • Train workers in the use of proper personal protective equipment (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I);
  • Provide an eyewash/shower unit for workers exposed to corrosive materials (29 CFR 1910.151);
  • Develop and implement a confined space program (29 CFR 1910.146);
  • Post permit-required confined space signage on equipment, such as dryers, ovens and wash tanks, where employees could be exposed to oxygen-deficient atmospheres (29 CFR 1910.146);
  • Prevent powder coating material to accumulate on the floor and equipment (29 CFR 1910.22);
  • Protect workers from falls, electrical and other combustible dust hazards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart S, 29 CFR 1910.94(c)); and
  • Develop and implement a written respiratory protection program for employees required to wear half- and full-face respirators while performing powder coating operations (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I).

Regulatory violations including eye safety violations are something your business wants to avoid. Findings from Occupational Health Unit of the Connecticut Department of Public Health have shown that 90 percent of occupational eye injuries were preventable with the use of proper eye protection. The CDC offers employers a printable Eye Safety Checklist to help you evaluate your facilities.

OSHA citations are often an inconvenient leading indicator. They are a warning of what can happen if violations are not taken seriously. Regulatory compliance protects your bottom line. Issuing the recommended eye protection to your employees is the right thing to do. By appropriately addressing safety violations early, you can help protect employees’ sight and more. Protecting your eyes at home is equally as important.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, is the CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC and a global Fortune 100 senior manager. Rodriguez was honored to be selected by EHS Today Magazine as one of "The 50 People Who Most Influenced environmental, health and safety in 2012-2013" and "2014 - 2015."