Corporate emergency preparedness and company-wide response planning is rarely quantified because of various uncertainties and a “not us” mind-set. Yet, when companies are not prepared for incidents, non-compliance fines can be assessed and employees, operations and profitability can be affected.
Federal Agencies, including OSHA, EPA, and PHMSA, as well as many state agencies continue to inspect and fine companies for non-compliance for a variety of infractions in hopes of creating a safer workplace and minimizing environmental impacts. Every year OSHA reveals its “Top 10 OSHA Citations”, a list compiled from nearly 32,000 workplace inspections.
“One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes,” says the Department of Labor staff. Year after year, OSHA inspectors see thousands of the same job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.
As in years’ past, OSHA published released its “Top 10”. The Top Ten most frequently cited OSHA standards include:
- 501 - Fall Protection
- 1200 - Hazard Communication
- 451 - Scaffolding
- 134 - Respiratory Protection
- 147 - Lockout/Tagout
- 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks
- 1053 - Ladders
- 212 - Machine Guarding
- 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods
- 303 - Electrical, General Requirements
As we move further into 2017, companies should utilize this list as a stepping stone to conduct assessments, identify potential site-specific compliance lapses, and mitigate highly recognized hazards. When companies can deliberately protect lives, prevent environmental hazardous, limit property damage and eliminate regulatory fines, they are investing in the sustainability of their company.
Since agencies redefined their monetary penalties in 2016, companies must not rely on the prospect of a regulatory agency inspection to ensure preparedness programs are sufficient. Prioritizing safety, preparedness and response planning can often mitigate these highly- recognized hazards. Below are just a few of the citation results from 2016 agency audits:
- OSHA: A manufacturer of swimming pool chemicals and acetone products was assessed fines totaling $61,600 for lacking a process safety management program.
- EPA: Salt Lake County, Utah failed to develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention and management program that minimized the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent. The County was responsible for a $140,000 fine.
- OSHA: A popular Washington DC hotel was fined $76,000 for exposing employees to more than two dozen workplace safety and health hazards.
- EPA: A Company that provided corrosion protection for steel products was fined $14,436 for illegally discharging liquid waste into nearby artificial wetlands.
- OSHA: A Frozen food company received multiple serious and willful violations totaling $168,000. Violations included, but were not limited to:
- Newly hired employees were not trained in the company’s Emergency Action Plan
- Lack of pre-emergency planning coordination with external responders during an ammonia release
- Inadequate hazardous material response training
- EPA: A national chain specialty grocery store was assessed a $500,000 civil penalty related to greenhouse gases emissions from refrigeration equipment at 453 of its stores.
- OSHA: A Houston contractor was found violating serious trench hazards for the sixth time in 10 years. The contracted was fined $124,000.
- EPA: A California power company agreed to pay $47,000 to settle EPA claims. The EPA stated that the company violated federal regulations in its spill management
- EPA: A petroleum company was assessed a non-compliance fine of $345,000 regarding the Clean Water Act’s stormwater discharge requirements associated with industrial activities. Non-compliant activities included failing to:
- Implement best management practices
- Implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan
- Monitor and report discharge data of the facility’s discharges of pollutants
- Obtain the appropriate stormwater discharge permit associated with industrial activity.
- PHMSA: A gas transmission company was assessed $550,400 for safety violations that occurred during an accidental release, including:
- Failing to notify the National Response Center following the release
- Failure to document proper DOT accident report
- Failure to correct hazardous condition
- Failure to follow operational and maintenance procedures
- OSHA: A Louisiana contractor was issued more than $150,000 in fines to a Louisiana contractor for confined space violations after fumes sicken two workers. OSHA issued citations for six serious violations and one willful violation.
- PHMSA fined a natural gas company $110,700 due to violations of pipeline safety regulations for:
- Failure to provide cathodic protection
- Failure to test pipelines under cathodic protection
- Failure to test relief capacity
- Failure to develop and cover certain tasks associated with Operator Qualification Program