Tech Talk Blog

OSHA and Willful Violations: How Prior Knowledge of Fall Hazards Can Hurt Your Company

Let’s assume for the sake of argument you have identified a potential fall hazard in your facility and invited a fall protection company to perform a site assessment.  For the purposes of this post, we will also assume that your fall protection provider agrees with your safety director and identifies a fall hazard that violates OSHA regulations.  This scenario occurs each day, and in most cases, the business owner will ask for a quote to remediate the hazard.  From here, management faces a choice: remediate the hazard or shelve the proposal.  Reasons for declining vary by company, but most of the rationalizations fall into three categories.  Employers will:

  • Choose not to act until OSHA visits or an employee is injured
  • Engineer a “home-made” solution, oftentimes without a qualified person
  • Claim there is no money set aside in the budget to address the fall hazard

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What Every C-Level Executive Should Know About OSHA, Fall Protection, and Willful Violations

Although C-Level managers rely heavily on Environmental, Health, and Safety managers to keep employees safe, there are specific provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act* that demand their personal attention.  Board room executives are not expected to personally execute inspections to identify fall hazards or document actions taken to remediate unsafe working conditions, but they are responsible for supervising the completion of these tasks.  Failure to do so may result in what OSHA terms, a “willful violation”.  What’s more, C-Level managers may be found personally and criminally liable for willful OSHA violations.

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Did You Know?

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide prompt rescue of their workers in the event of a fall or assure that their workers are able to self rescue?