SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance
This issue I would like to share a story about a recent
job my company was hired to perform. A large manufacturing
company contacted us to conduct a risk
assessment of their machinery. They wanted to know
specifically if there were hazards that needed to be corrected
which could expose their employees to injuries.
The OSHA machine guarding standards have been in
effect for 46 years. My question to you reading this article
is this: “Should this manufacturer have any serious machine
guarding hazards in today’s world if they had an effective
program?” The answer to this question is simply, no.
Prior to my company arriving on their manufacturing site we
asked our new client for information that is especially important
to us if we are going to conduct this type of machine
guarding risk assessment audit. We asked if we could review
copies of the machine manufacturers owners/operator manuals?
We were told that they did not have them.
Next, we asked if they had the training records of their
management, machine operators and the maintenance
personnel who are required to know this information.
Essential information is always found in these manufacturers
documents. Once again, this client stated that they
did not have those as well.
We also knew that this client previously hired another
machine guarding company to conduct a machine guarding
risk assessment prior to them contacting us so we
asked to see a copy of that firm’s report. Although this
new client stated in writing back to us that they had one,
this client refused to share this vital information with us.
Our new client is a large manufacturer who has many
product lines that are well known and who have been in
business for many years. While we were on site, we
learned from their documents that they average 30
machine amputations annually in their worldwide facilities
and at least one of them was a fatality. We learned this
from their machine guarding risk assessment training documents
that we came across during our visit.
While we were onsite, one of my team almost fell 30 feet
from an elevated work area. He was asked by their Safety
& Health Manager why he went up there? My associate
stated that there were machines up there that needed to
be inspected. The manager told my associate, who could
have lost his life to “just get over it”.
Next as we were reviewing the machine guarding risk
assessment forms that this client wanted us to use, we
found that the formula was flawed, meaning that if we followed
their formula, the real machine guarding risk of the
hazard we were inspecting would be lower than what it
should have been. When we brought this issue up to this
client’s manager and the site Safety & Health Manager,
we were threatened, bullied and cursed at. Then suddenly,
this person threw something down on the table next to
me. I have PTSD from serving in Vietnam, I thought a
bomb had gone off and I froze.
Later, after returning to my hotel room, my PTSD being
spiked and knowing that my associate could have been
killed in a near miss fall accident was just about all I could
tolerate. We were told by the management not to report
the hazards that we identified while conducting our audit.
We tried to bring this matter to their CEO in the United
Sates and then with tried to send the same information to
their global operations in Europe. We were served with a
“Cease and Desist” letter.
Our attempts to protect their employees were rejected.
The abuse that we experienced from one of their employees
was disregarded. We were adhering to their company
policies by bringing these issues to management’s attention.
To protect my team, I filed a formal complaint with
OSHA. Why did I blow the whistle on this client? Because
I cared for the safety of others, members of my team, and
especially this clients employees.
Many of our clients are required to have premise liability
insurance. As a business owner you are expected to
take reasonable care to protect visitors to your business.
Most visitors will fall into one of three categories:
Invitee: Someone who is invited onto the property
(e.g., a customer). Invitees can expect that you have taken
reasonable precautions to ensure their safety.
Licensee: Someone who is permitted to enter the property,
but has not been invited (e.g., delivery persons, utility
workers). Licensees are aware of certain hazards, and
cannot expect that the highest level of care is given to their
safety. In fact, they may contribute to some of the hazards.
Trespasser: Someone who is neither invited nor permitted
to enter a property. Trespassers (e.g., burglars or
vandals) have a very limited assumption of safety.
As a business owner, you are legally required to maintain
the safety of a property and if a visitor is injured or
their property is damaged, you can be held liable to financially
compensate the visitor for damages.
I will update you later on the status of our complaint. In
the meantime please let us know if you have any safety
and health questions. We would be happy to address them
in an article in 2018.
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.