While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would have all businesses perform routine health and safety inspections, not every employer is required to. Businesses which have employees perform more dangerous job functions or work with hazardous machinery or materials may be required to comply with more strict regulations and perform regular inspections in order to ensure that a safe environment is provided to workers. Regardless of whether a business receives a mandate from OSHA to perform routine inspections, employers can be held liable if OSHA believes they have failed to take measures that are considered reasonable to reduce the chances of injury. It is a proven fact that routine safety inspections can save lives and employers need to be more willing to actively participate in programs that will reduce workplace accidents.
Equipment Requiring Regular Inspection
Regular safety inspections can identify problems with machinery well before they become a hazard to workers, but employers often push back against mandated inspection schedules in order to avoid costs associated with regular maintenance and repair. It is a sad affair when the safety of employees is not valued more than the costs required to ensure that every employee makes it home from his or her shift. OSHA requires facilities and worksites that maintain or operate certain forms of machinery to perform regular inspections and make repairs to machinery when appropriate because, when left to the employers’ discretion, these inspections may not be performed.
The equipment which is subject to regular inspection includes the following.
- Cranes and derricks. These machines pose a risk not only to those who operate them on a routine basis, but to the public as well. Should a crane malfunction or collapse, the results can be catastrophic.
- Power presses and forging equipment. It is important to ensure that this equipment is working properly in order to protect the workers that regularly place their bodies at risk by operating it.
- Welding, cutting and brazing equipment. This can include electric saws, welding safety equipment, torches, drills and more.
- Commercial vehicles. Many commercial trucks fail to receive the maintenance they need and the mechanical failures that result cause devastating and catastrophic injuries to others on the roads.
- Fire and chemical extinguishers. Ensuring that workers are able to protect themselves in the event of a fire can save many lives, especially if a working extinguisher can neutralize the threat before it spreads out of control. Conversely, workers who attempt to extinguish a chemical or electrical fire with a defective extinguisher can meet dire consequences.
- Powered platforms and lifts. It is important to ensure that lifts are being used properly and can support the weight they are designed to bear. Should a platform or lift fail while elevated, it can result in serious injuries or fatalities.
- Any equipment that has been modified from its original manufactured design. Altering the manner in which a piece of equipment can help workers accomplish their tasks more efficiently, but it is important to ensure that the modifications so not increase the risk of mechanical failures that can harm the operators.
Safety Compliance Requirements
Even though OSHA has some strict adherence requirements, some employers willfully fail to comply with the regulations or protocols that have been mandated. In order to help ensure compliance, OSHA requires businesses to have a designated safety officer whose duty it is to perform routine safety inspections and keep records of all of the measures the company has taken to ensure workplace safety. The safety officer must document safety meetings, training sessions, maintenance records and any infractions the company has committed.
It is possible for businesses to falsify these records in order to avoid liability following an accident, so it is important to obtain the records quickly— before they can be doctored, destroyed or amended. A lot of useful information can be gleaned through these records and how well they were kept. An attorney can use them to determine whether your employer has anything to hide, or has a long standing history of skirting the rules. Even if the records have been falsified, they can be compared with other evidence to assess the accuracy and expose an attempt to cover up the illegal behavior.
One of the most important reasons OSHA has mandated the routine inspection of certain equipment and facilities is that employers have far too much temptation not to regulate themselves. When the bottom line is a greater priority than the safety of the workers these companies owe their successes to, it is important to hold them accountable to the full extent of the law. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and perform a detailed investigation to uncover any wrong doing so that you are able to recover the full amount of financial compensation you are entitled to following a workplace accident. You can contact us for more information.