Last Monday, OSHA issued a scathing citation of New Jersey based Oaxaca Mexican Products. The citation included twenty-four violations (one of which was willful and twenty of which were serious), and came with over $100,000 of fines. What can we learn from Oaxaca’s mistakes?
The most obvious thing Oaxaca did wrong was relying on jury-rigged or absent equipment for their workers’ safety. In the absence of routine maintenance, employees were left to rely on broken ladders, spliced electrical cables, and propane tanks secured with twine.
Equally shocking was the lack of basic safety equipment. Employees stood on raised platforms without a safety rail to protect them in the case of a fall, and (worst of all) the facility’s emergency exit was locked! This last citation was by far the most galling to a local OSHA official who called it “completely unacceptable.”
Most of these safety violations could’ve been corrected with minor expense had Oaxaca noticed there was a problem. Scheduling and carrying out regular safety inspections would’ve saved Oaxaca a lot of money.
Poor Hazard Communication
The simplest violations for Oaxaca to avoid were their lack of communication with their workers. Broken equipment wasn’t labeled, emergency exits weren’t labeled, and there were no safety data sheets on site.
Failing to communicate known dangers to employees contributed to Oaxaca’s unsafe workplace. The company could’ve avoided many of these violations simply by printing out a few signs! Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple to create and manage your company’s safety data sheets.
Safety data sheets need to include a lot of information, and must conform to the at-times esoteric rules of the Globally Harmonized Standard. Building them and keeping them up to date can be difficult, so many companies like Oaxaca don’t bother (and get fined for it). Quantum offers several solutions to safety data sheet management, including authoring and management services. If Oaxaca had access to Quantum’s expertise, they might not have gotten into as much trouble.