The high cost of OSHA clean air violations
Business owners know all-too-well the high costs of “doing business”, especially when it comes to equipping the workplace with the proper safety tools and gear. Environmental safety is also essential but is easy to overlook for some industries, and some companies have been forced to pay the price for failing to install the proper air ventilation systems to comply with clean air standards set by OSHA.
For those who are unfamiliar with the agency, OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency founded in 1971 with the purpose of assuring “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” When it comes to the air quality in factories and manufacturing facilities, OSHA is the agency responsible for regulating and enforcing the standards required.
Because welding fumes, airborne particulates, and dust in the workplace can be harmful to the health of workers in the facility, it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that the proper air filtration systems are in place to protect workers from harm. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines from OSHA, and in some cases, an increase in workers’ compensation claims from employees who are harmed by poor air quality on the jobsite. Fines can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for only a handful of violations, so it is essential for employers to implement the correct OSHA standards to protect their employees.
Indoor air quality (or IAC) has a very real effect on workers, and poor IAC can result in irritation of the nose, eyes, or throat, headaches, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. There may be even more serious diseases and issues that go along with poor IAC, and one only has to look to reports from companies that exposed their employees to asbestos particles to see just how dangerous airborne particulates can be to workers’ health.
The right ventilation and care can go a long way toward providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of your employees, so if you are an employer of any size, from a small “mom-and-pop shop” to a major manufacturer, it is vital that you pay attention to the air quality in your workspace and take the steps to improve the air filtration and ventilation for yourself and your employees.
You can also check with your state to see if they have their own requirements regarding indoor air quality. Currently, several states including California, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York have their own IAC regulations on the books, so in addition to federal regulations, it is wise to consult with state regulators as well to find out if your company is in compliance. At the end of the day, worker safety should be paramount, so any investment in their health and safety should be the main concern of any employer, and failure to do so may result in heavy fines and harm to the health of your employees.