Follow by Email

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Beware! OSHA's "General Duty" Clause

Employee vulnerability to violent crimes draws OSHA General Duty Clause citation

Aggravated robbery, death of employee at convenience store results in OSHA investigation
The ever increasing heavy hand of big government bearing down. Read the following and I would like to hear if my following comments make any sense to you. This article, thanks to JJ Keller. A link to their site is provided below:

Posted November 29, 2012
Following an aggravated robbery that resulted in the death of an employee at a convenience store in Garland, Texas, OSHA cited the company with four serious safety violations.
According to OSHA, an investigation was opened at the Garland store in May after an employee working at the checkout counter was seriously assaulted during a robbery and later died from second- and third-degree burns. OSHA also investigated the company's three other stores in Dallas and Mesquite, and found that workers at those locations were exposed to the same or similar workplace violence hazards.
"Handling money, working alone and standing behind open counters leaves employees vulnerable to violent crimes," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "If the employer had conducted an analysis to identify risk for violence, implemented appropriate control measures and provided training to ensure awareness of potential violence, it is possible that this tragic loss of life could have been avoided."
Each store was cited with violating OSHA's "general duty clause" for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. The citations carry total proposed penalties of $19,600.
OSHA says that workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening and disruptive behavior that occurs at a work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.
My response:
This article really ticked me off! I was a gasoline station attendant in the 60’s and a franchised gasoline station dealer in the 1970’s. Having been personally robbed twice and having  my attendants robbed several times, this kind of riles me up.

Does anyone think that a normal small business owner does not think about the consequences of being robbed? Different areas of different cities have varying degrees of risk. I've been in some areas of some cities where they have armed security stationed 24 hours per day. You can imagine the costs of this has to be passed to the customers of that establishment. Would that be practical for every convenience store in this country?

You want a 100% guarantee that no employee will be hurt or killed? Then we can built a fortress around them with concrete walls and bullet-proof glass. Prevent the public from entering and pass everything through a sliding tray. Customers can line up outside and wait. The problem then would be that you kill the industry!

When your business gets robbed, who suffers the loss? I can guarantee you that business and liability insurance will fall far short of covering the costs for business owners. If an employee gets injured or killed on the job, do you think the business owner will not be affected? The cost of their worker’s comp insurance will rise dramatically. Ambulance chasing lawyers will line up at the employee’s families door to sign them up for lawsuits! The family members of the affected employee will begin to see dollar signs in their dreams.

I can guarantee you that as a business owner, I had a few dreams myself concerning the previous paragraph!

Now, enter OSHA! The protectors of America’s workers. Running afoul of the “General Duty Clause”. OSHA swoops in, conducts an “investigation” and pads the government coffers with $20,000.00 in fines! OK, what just happened? A government agency trying to justify it’s existence has to find someone guilty of something! Pronounce the business owner guilty, without them being able to defend themselves, and collect the cash!

How would it be, if OSHA tried to help business owners in a circumstance like this? Instead of coming in, throwing their weight around and collecting fines, how about working with the employer and suggesting possible solutions, using reasonable cost/benefit analysis, in an effort to avoid the circumstance in the future? I can already hear the answer, “It’s not their job! Their job is to issue regulations and collect fines.”

No comments:

Post a Comment