Southeastern Onsite Safety helps businesses meet new OSHA standards

Published 8:30 am Friday, March 10, 2023

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In December, OSHA released a statement that there had been a nearly 9% increase in fatal work injuries in one year. With this in mind, OSHA would be making changes to protect employees and discourage profit over safety in the workplace.

Businesses in the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce are getting a headstart on these changes with the help of Southeastern Onsite Safety Owner Duane Gaither.

Gaither and his wife, Deanna, held a seminar on the new OSHA policies during a Lunch and Learn on Thursday. 

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Gaither began Southeastern Onsite Safety three years ago. As an OSHA-certified trainer, he reviews businesses for OSHA violations and helps them meet inspections. 

“My goal is to keep everybody safe, but my secondary goal is to keep my clients protected from undue fines,” Gaither said during the meeting.

The new initiative is targeting companies that place profit over the safety of their employees. Though Gaither said the companies he has worked in the area make safety a priority, other businesses don’t always do that.

“For years and years, companies have seen the cost of OSHA fines as being nothing more than the cost of doing business,” Gaither said. “OSHA is making a concerted effort to make it hurt.”

Effective March 16, the main changes will be OSHA officers applying instance-by-instance (IBI) citations, increasing fines and certifying visas for immigrant workers involved in OSHA violation investigations.

IBI citations means that OSHA officers will give one citation for every instance of a high gravity violation. 

The fines for serious work injury violations is $15,625 and the fine for repeated violations is $156,259. According to Gaither, the fines will now increase every year with the economy. 

Beginning on March 30, OSHA will certify T and U visas during safety investigations to workers who are helping law enforcement investigate crimes. 

“Now, they’ve got the same rights as an American citizen,” Gaither said. 

Gaither’s advice for business owners is to perform a review of current health and safety practices, train employees on workplace safety and review the business’s OSHA 300 logs for the last five years.

Businesses should document their employee training. Gaither said employers should also be mindful that temp agencies are properly vetting contract workers for their work eligibility before hiring them.