Certain types of workplace accidents occur on a regular basis here in Illinois. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified many of them into a top 10 list. And they continue to find and cite employers who violate the same safety regulations. Many will receive one of OSHA’s “willful” violations, which indicates an intentional disregard or plain indifference to safety.
You have to ask why? Why would a contractor who has been fined by OSHA for failing to employ fall protection for workers on roofs or failing to use proper trench protection, how could they not know?
Surely, they have not forgotten? Some OSHA fines can reach six-figures, so absent a very wealthy company, you would think they wound not “forget” paying a $100,000 OSHA fine. Many of these requires are not new, so anyone with experience in the business for more than a few years is likely to have encountered them, and even if you were starting up a new company, there are attorneys and safety consultants who would provide information on safety regulations.
Could it be that workers lives and limbs are perceived as merely a cost of doing business? After all, in many types of work, there are always plenty of applicants for positions available.
Where businesses are only held accountable for a payment of a fine, all an employer has to do is write a check. In a case from California, a company owner and project manager were convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and will spend two years in jail, after a worker died at a construction site where a trench collapsed after a stop-work order had been issued.
These cases are never accidents. This is simply one of the times where those responsible were actually held accountable.
Source: ehstoday.com, “Why the Homicide Conviction in California for Trenching Violations Could Contribute to Workplace Safety,” Edward Stern, September 10, 2015