Disciplining safety violators: Don’t just holler

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

What do your supervisors do when they catch workers breaking a major safety rule? Simply yell at the worker? A new court ruling highlights the importance of enforcing safety rules with discipline and documentation.

The case:
When a New York bridge worker fell to his death, OSHA cited the employer with a $3,500 serious-violation fine. The company appealed, saying it provided the correct harness, but the employee failed to use it—even ignoring supervisors who yelled at him about it. But the court let the fine stand, saying oral warnings alone aren’t sufficient for enforcing important safety rules. The company had a progressive-discipline plan for safety violations, and supervisors should have used it. (Secretary of Labor v. Skanska Koch Inc.)

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