Boss explained and enforced company’s safety program

by on December 9, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

“Gunther is a blockhead,” Safety Director Yancey Griffith said.

“Gunther is the king of blockheads,” supervisor Pete Harley agreed. “But that’s not going to get OSHA off our back.”

“In a way, it might,” Yancey said, “if we can prove Gunther knew we were serious about fall protection but ignored our rules when he worked at the edge of the roof without being tied off.”

“Can we prove that?” Yancey asked Pete.

Serious training
“Sure,” Pete said. “We’ve been over the rules with Gunther often enough. Like everybody, he got four hours of safety training when we hired him. That includes the Roofing Association video and hands-on practice in putting on a harness and attaching a line.”

“Then as you know we have the Monday toolbox meetings – they’re often about fall protection – and our daily huddles where we discuss specific safety issues with upcoming jobs,” Pete went on.

“Plus the quarterly training sessions at the Association, and the 10- and 30-hour OSHA training,” Yancey added. “But OSHA is also going to look at whether we enforce the rules.”

“You bet we do,” Pete said. “A couple of jobs back, I sent Gunther home for two days without pay when I caught him tied off to a TV aerial.”

“Good,” Yancey said. “Let’s see if we can get this citation thrown out.”

Did the company succeed?

The decision
Yes. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission dismissed the citation.

The Commission said the company couldn’t foresee Gunther would violate the fall protection standard, and thus wasn’t responsible for his action.

To prove unforeseeable employee misconduct, an employer must prove it:

  • had an adequate safety plan in place and communicated it to employees, and
  • enforced its rules seriously.

Supervisor Pete and Safety Director Yancey did both.

The first and best reason for training employees on safety, and disciplining rule-breakers, is to keep people safe.

But the second reason is a pretty good one, too: By doing so, you’re protecting the company from scofflaws like Gunther.

Cite: Sec’y. of Labor v. Deer Park Roofing, No. 10-1135, OSHRC.

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