Month: June 2010

Who’s Tools and Equipment?

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

Does your company supply employees with tools, ladders, etc. to perform their assigned duties? Or does your company require employees to provide some or all of their tools to perform their duties? Does your company lease or rent tools, equipment, etc?

Well, if you think you are not responsible for the condition of tools and if they are not in compliance with safety standards because the employee provides them, you may want to rethink that philosophy. OSHA does not have specific standards stating this so this area would be covered under the General Duty Clause.

As an employer you are responsible for providing a safe and healthful place of employment for your employees. If employees bring their own tools to work to perform their job it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure the tools are compliant and all guards, safety interlocks, etc. are in place and working properly.

If an OSHA compliance inspector should happen to see a power hand tool with a defective cord, or missing guard the employer will be cited and fined for the violation. The tool that is not in compliance with safety standards poses not only a risk to the tool owner, but also to any other employee who may decide to use or borrow the defective tool. This includes ladders, hand tools, personally owned PPE, etc.

As the employer you have the responsibility to:

1.     Inspect employee owned tools, accessories, ladders, etc. to make sure  they are safe to use and are in compliance with current safety standards.

2.     If the employee owned tools, accessories, ladders, etc. are defective or are not compliant due to missing guards, damaged cords, etc. have the employee remove them from the premises immediately.

3.     Have the employee replace or have the defective tools, accessories, ladders, etc. repaired and brought back into compliance before bringing them back on the premises.

4.     As the employer if an employee uses personal tools, ladders, etc. on the job and is injured or results in the injury of other employees due to the   equipment being defective, in need of repair, modified, etc. you can be held responsible under the general duty clause of the OSHA Act.

This also applies to tools and equipment that you may rent or lease from another company. If it is on your site and your employees are operating the equipment and/or tools it is your responsibility as the employer to inspect it to make sure it is safe and in compliance.

As an example a client was inspected by OSHA this year and had a loaner forklift on site from the company that had their forklift in the shop for repairs. The client’s employees were operating the forklift on the site. The compliance officer inspected the forklift to find that the seat belt was missing, the horn was not operational and there was no operator manual with the forklift. Needless to say the client was cited and penalized a total of $2,000 for this violation, even though the forklift did not belong to them. The forklift was not in compliance with OSHA standards and the specifications of the manufacturer.

OSHA Act of 1970 “General Duty Clause”
Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees, employment and a place of employment which are free of recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or physical harm to his employees: and shallcomply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
  Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct
             This is the law; all other sections of the manual are the minimum standards by which an employer shall comply.             This is the law; all other sections of the manual are the minimum standards by which an employer shall comply.            For those employers who are not familiar with the penalties that can be levied on an employer by OSHA, below gives a breakdown.             This is the law; all other sections of the manual are the minimum standards by which an employer shall comply.            For those employers who are not familiar with the penalties that can be levied on an employer by OSHA, below gives a breakdown.OSHA Penalties
             This is the law; all other sections of the manual are the minimum standards by which an employer shall comply.            For those employers who are not familiar with the penalties that can be levied on an employer by OSHA, below gives a breakdown.1.      Non-Serious (Other Than Serious) – Is a violation of an OSHA standard which is considered minor and may not carry a penalty with it. The violation still has to be abated. May or may not carry a penalty.

This is the law; all other sections of the manual are the minimum standards by which an employer shall comply.            For those employers who are not familiar with the penalties that can be levied on an employer by OSHA, below gives a breakdown.1.      (Other Than Serious) – Is a violation of an OSHA standard which is considered minor and may not carry a penalty with it. The violation still has to be abated.2.      Serious – Is a hazard in violation of an OSHA standard which has a high probability of causing illness, injury or possible death and will have a monetary penalty attached which will be determined by OSHA. Maximum penalty may range up to $7,000 per violation.

3.      Willful Serious – Is a hazard in violation of an OSHA standard which the company or management was aware of but failed to correct or abate the hazard which would lead to imminent danger of health, injury or death to an employee. This type of citation carries the potential for very expensive penalties. Maximum penalty may range up to $70,000 per violation.

4.      Failure to Abate – Is when an employer fails to abate a hazard after receiving the inspection citation with violations and penalties. Maximum penalty may range up to $7,000 per day per violation for 30 days.