I just read a recent OSHA news release about two employees who were killed and another who was severely burned at a US Steel plant in Alabama. The article said “Management knew that attempting to operate the valve while the furnace was still running placed workers at risk, yet they allowed them to do it because they didn’t want the production line down for hours,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham. “This employer chose productivity over the safety of its workers, and two people died as a result of this decision.”
So, did the company save time by bypassing safety? I’m guessing the plant had to be shut down while investigations occurred and damage was repaired. That didn’t save any time.
I recall a supervisor who initially complained about his employees being so busy that they didn’t have time for safety training or to get the devices (carts, lifts, etc.) to help employees do their jobs. And then one of his employees hurt his back and was out of work for several weeks. So, they ran very short staffed during that time. Did they save time or money by bypassing safety? No. And the supervisor recognized the impact it had on his employees. Having a full staff take a little extra time to do things safely was a lot more productive than having fewer staff because someone is out with an injury.
And, the US Steel plant? The $107,000 in OSHA penalties is just the beginning of the costs.