Workplace Safety: Have You Learned from the Past?

This week, OSHA issued a press release regarding a company in Billings, Montana that was recently cited for something it---or any company---should have never, ever be cited for: a repeat citation.

According to OSHA, "a repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years."

How is it possible that a company could be so careless when it comes to protecting its employees from safety hazards, especially when the mistake was already made once before? This certainly begs the question, "Have you learned from the past?"

One of the biggest reasons why OSHA enforces safe workplace practices and standards is to ensure an accident, injury or fatality does not happen again. Because they don't have to. But when an organization is negligent and careless, it can happen again. And, tragically, likely will happen again, just as it did at this Montana company.

The one positive that comes out of a story like the one in OSHA's official press release below? You can prevent it from happening at your place of work to safeguard your employees. All you have to do is learn from the past.

Here's OSHA's press release:

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites North Western Energy in Billings,
Mont., for electrical hazards after employee injured by high-voltage equipment

BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to North Western Energy in Billings for one repeat and two serious safety violations after an employee was injured while working on high-voltage equipment.

"An apprentice lineman came into contact with 7,200 volts and was seriously injured because this employer failed to implement safety standards, even though the company previously had been cited for similar violations at its Corwin Springs, Mont., facility," said Christine A. Webb, OSHA's area director in Billings.

The repeat citation was issued for failing to implement a minimum distance from high-voltage equipment. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

North Western Energy was cited with two serious violations for failing to train workers on equipment used to energize electrical lines, and to examine, clean and test electrical equipment. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $49,000 for the citations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the finding before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

About Michael Eldridge

Michael Eldridge is the President and Founder of Safety Glasses USA, one of the web's largest providers of safety glasses and goggles. He's a US Marine Veteran who's particularly passionate about protective eyewear and helping people learn about vision safety. In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeEldridge73, Google or via the Safety Glasses USA Facebook Page.