How To Beat MIOSHA Without Having To Pay A Fine?

We asked our lead instructor Sid this question and here was his response:

That is an interesting question because we have to sometimes consider the source of who's asking that. That's like asking, "After I get stopped for speeding, how can I beat a speeding ticket?" Or, "After I get pulled over for drunk driving, how can I beat that?" It's probably better off to prepare ahead of time and not do that situation. Okay? You're not going to beat a MIOSHA fine. It's not open to the debate. Okay? 

When they come on site, they're not necessarily looking for a violation. They are generally on site, especially residential work, because somebody has called. It might be a disgruntled employee and I found that sometimes it's even a disgruntled contractor who didn't get the job you got and so they call MIOSHA. Or it might be somebody driving by that sees something serious like somebody on the roof without a harness, and they'll call MIOSHA.

The fact that they're there doesn't mean they're there to write a violation right away. They're there first to find out if you're in compliance with MIOSHA requirements.

 Now how do we comply with MIOSHA requirements? There's only one way you can do that and that's to take MIOSHA training, either a ten hour or three-hour course. Somebody in your company has to be MIOSHA certified. That means they're a competent person. To be a competent person, you have to be trained. So number one, you have to be trained to be that competent person. But being a competent person, you now understand first aid requirements, you know with what safety requirements are needed for every aspect of the job, whether it be excavations or being on the roof. 

The next thing you know is how to perform first aid because you have a first aid kit on the job and you know what's required to do that. Along with that, you also know what you need to have on the job site. 

So let's just start with some basic stuff. How to set up your workbook in sections.

Section 1

One of the very first things, try to visualize having a three-ring binder on the job site. In the first section in that binder you're going to have the report accident prevention program that you've downloaded from MIOSHA that's filled out in your company name.

Section 2

Second of all, you're going to have what's called a job site assessment. For every job site. Someone is going to review that job site ahead of time and indicate what safety equipment's needed on that job site. There's graphs that you can fill out, diagrams that you can fill out. You check for little hanging wires, you check for any bad ground conditions, you indicate do they need hardhats on that job site, safety glasses, ear protection, gloves, safety vest. That's indicated on your hazard assessment and posted where everybody can see it.

Section 3

The next section in your workbook is you have the safety data sheets from your company and all the subs before they start work in that workbook. Okay?

Section 4

The next section in that three-ring binder is going to be your toolbox talks, the ones you've given, okay? And it's up to you with your employees to cover the toolbox safety talks that are relative to their scope of work, whether it be use of ladders, use of power equipment like sky tracks, GFIs on the job site. These toolbox talks only take somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, but they sign the back of them so that you can prove that you've done training for them in that field that they're supposed to do. 

Section 5

Then in the next section of the three-ring binder would be toolbox talks that we plan on giving. 

Section 6

The next section of the workbook would be MIOSHA reporting forms, in case you have to make a report of an accident. The 300 log, the 301A and the incident report. All those are kept there so we can fill them out.

Section 7

Also in that workbook or on site, you will have a map for the nearest first aid facilities if you have to transport an accident victim or what number to call. So when MIOSHA does come on site rather than trying to beat them, it's better to be able to show them how you comply with what they want you to do.

Example

You have an individual that falls off a roof. Okay? There's going to be an accident report. You're going to have to respond to MIOSHA when they investigate or let's say for example, you've got four guys on the roof and MIOSHA drives by and sees one of them without a harness. Okay? MIOSHA's going to come on site and say, "Why doesn't that guy have a harness on?" Hopefully you got the backup to prove why, why he should have a harness on.

So the way we can do this, number one is we can go to our toolbox safety talks, the one that dealt with wearing your harness on the roof job and show MIOSHA, "Look, this guy was trained. He signed the back of it. He knows he's supposed to wear it. Why he took it off is beyond me." What we are now doing is proving to MIOSHA we did the training. He's the one that's not wearing it. Okay? Are you still going to get a fine? Probably, but not as severe as you would if you didn't do any training and you had to prove it. Okay?

Now what do we do once we get the fine?

There are some fines, there is a difference between a low cost fine and a high cost fine. Most of the fines that you get if you plead guilty and they'll inform you of this when you, they send you the violation. If you plead guilty within, I believe it's 15 days, they reduce the fine 50% and you know you're wrong, you're pleading guilty and you plan on this not happening again. And they'll ask you, "How do you propose for this not to happen again?". And you should be able to have a plan in place, you know, the employment warning, the written warnings and finally if need be the firing of an employee for not complying with the requirements.

So we're really not going to beat MIOSHA nor is there any reason to try to beat them. The whole idea is to have safety on the job site because somebody's life is at risk for being killed, or at least being severely injured. 

So we want as employers and owners of companies, we want to comply with MIOSHA simply for the fact that life is valuable and everybody should be able to go home at the end of the day, not to the morgue, not to the hospital.