Help Clients Prepare for OSHA SST Program and Fines

Posted by Dustin Boss on Oct 1, 2019 8:00:00 AM
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Help Clients Prepare for OSHA SST Program and Fines

The last thing you want to see is your clients facing serious fines, right? They may be nervous about the Site-Specific Targeting Inspection Plan (SST Plan), but we’re here to help. This blog will go over important details of the SST Plan and the potential fines that could be incurred, so you help clients feel prepared—not worried.

What is the SST Plan?

In October 2018, OSHA implemented the national SST Plan for general industry (non-construction) workplaces with 20 or more employees.

Currently, employers are subject to SST inspections based on their 2016 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) forms. These forms, essentially, determined which establishments had a high rate of employee days away from work, restricted work or job transfer in the context of their specific industry in 2016. This is referred to as the DART rate. If the DART rate for an organization was high in 2016, they are likely on the current SST Plan inspection list. Note, however, that a random sample of establishments with low DART rates are also included on the list.

A random sampling of employers who did not submit the required 2016 300A forms are also included on the SST Plan inspection list.

The SST Plan does not intend to visit office-only establishments. This means that, for industries without permanent workplaces, inspectors must determine which active worksites are eligible for inspection.

If your clients meet either of these criteria, they should review OSHA’s SST Plan directive to ensure they understand their rights and what to expect from OSHA.

How Clients Can Protect Themselves

There are some ways to help your clients protect themselves if they are at risk of inspection.

  • Educate them on the types of inspections they could be subject to. These include:
    • Programmed inspections, or SST Plan inspections and national, regional and local emphasis in inspection programs targeting high-risk hazards/industries. There are currently 9 National Emphasis Programs (NEPs): lead, shipbreaking, trenching/excavations, process safety management, hazardous machinery, hexavalent chromium, primary metal industries and combustible dust. If an establishment is subject to an SST Plan inspection and also an inspection for one of the emphasis programs, there may be separate, or concurrent, inspections.
    • Unprogrammed inspections are different, in that they generally are the result of a complaint, fatality or referral. If an unprogrammed event occurs at an establishment that is included on the SST Plan inspection list, there may be either two separate, or one concurrent, inspection.
    • On-site reviews are also a possibility, as part of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPPs), to determine an establishment’s eligibility for inclusion in the programs.
  • Ensure they understand that, if subject to an SST Plan inspection, inspectors will be reviewing the 300 logs for 2016, 2017 and 2018. If the inspectors have additional questions about the data in these logs, the employer will be asked to provide more detail via OSHA Form 301.
  • Have clients verify that their organization is following all required safety procedures so that, in the case of an inspection, they will not face serious fines.

Potential Fines

To help clients understand the potential fines that could be incurred and why, let’s take a look at an example of an Ohio manufacturer that is facing $724,380 in fines. This establishment was cited with repeated lockout/tagout violations. Here’s what happened:

  • The agency listed 36 separate instances listed in a 2-month span where employees failed to follow lockout/tagout procedures.
  • This manufacturer had been cited for the same violation a year prior
  • Fined $562,607 for 6 repeat violations and $161,773 for 13 serious violations
  • A few of the violations included using extension cords in place of permanent wiring, not labeling containers of hazardous substances, not posting danger signs on permit-required confined spaces and not providing adequate safety training to employees

It is important for clients to understand the severity of potential fines, so they know how important it is to prepare their establishments for potential inspection.

The SST Program and the potential fines that could be incurred are serious, so ensure clients understand their risk and take proactive steps to make their establishments safer before an inspection happens.

2020 OSHA Guidebook

Tags: Sales/Prospecting