What the Trucking Industry Should Know About OSHA Inspections

The trucking industry has seen major changes in a number of ways recently. Whether it’s systematic changes to legislation, like with California’s AB-5 legislation, or through unprecedented disruptions to supply chains, like with COVID-19, truck drivers and trucking companies have needed to adapt to the evolving industry. But while these changes have seemed abrupt, causing trucking companies to rethink how they approach everything from Truck insurance to operating hours, some industry updates can be prepared for, like with the recent OSHA updates meant to protect workers in the industry.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the right to inspect any workplace. There are many different things that might trigger an inspection, but the ultimate goal is to make sure a business is compliant with rules and taking the right precautions to keep its employees safe.

Here are some things that the trucking industry should know about OSHA inspections.

What Are Some Reasons an OSHA Inspection Takes Place?

As noted above, OSHA has the right to inspect any company at any time to look for any discrepancies when it comes to workplace safety. OSHA prioritizes inspections, according to the most hazardous workplace, which puts the trucking industry front and center since it’s repeatedly referenced as a dangerous work environment for all involved. Here are some reasons why an inspection might be carried out:

  • Imminent Danger: These are hazardous scenarios that can end up causing death or serious injury to people.
  • Severe Injuries: The employer must report any major injury or illness promptly to OSHA, which then carries out an inspection.
  • Employee Complaints: OSHA encourages employees to speak up and report any health and safety hazards or violations.
  • Referrals: This kind of inspection occurs when a government agency, other organization or individual has reported a possible hazard at a worksite.

Typically, OSHA does not give employers a warning before it conducts their inspections. Exceptions to this rule might include imminent danger scenarios and inspections that can effectively be conducted following regular business hours.

How Can Trucking Companies Handle an Inspection?

Businesses that are covered by the OSHA Act should already have a course of action in place for handling potential inspections. Since these inspections can happen at a moment’s notice, preparation is key. Doing this will increase preparedness and limit the chances of panic should an OSHA inspector show up at a trucking company’s worksite or operations center.

When an OSHA inspector arrives, it’s important for trucking company supervisors to obtain their credentials and be cooperative. While volunteering information isn’t the right choice upfront, it still helps to be cooperative and not try to obstruct an inspection. The last thing a trucking company would want is to get in an inspector’s way or give up information that was not asked for in the first place.

What Are the Penalties of Noncompliance?

Not all companies are prepared for an inspection, or at least not thrilled to see an inspector come onto their site. If OSHA gives out a de minimis violation, meaning it’s a technical violation that has no direct effect on the health and safety of truck drivers, then OSHA will not issue a citation. However, there are serious penalties that OSHA can give out, such as:

  • Serious violations: this means there’s a significant chance that death or serious physical harm may occur, and the employer should have been made aware.
  • Willful or repeated violation: An employer intentionally and knowingly violated OSHA’s rules.
  • Failure to Abate: The employer failed to correct a previously cited violation. Money penalties for these violations are adjusted each year, but a serious violation can exceed $12,000.

What Should Trucking Companies Know About New OSHA Regulations?

OSHA spent most of last year increasing its number of employer inspections and pursuing new rulemakings and programs. In 2019, it conducted more than 33,000 inspections addressing workplace violations related to falls, chemical exposure, silica exposure, and other hazards.

OSHA also recently issued a proposed rule that would amend parts of the cranes and derricks in construction standard, as well as those that have to do with industrial trucks. The proposed amendments will include correcting references to power line voltage, broadening for forklifts carrying loads under the forks.

This also encompasses trucking companies that operate on commercial sites. Trucking companies should be aware of the violations listed above and avoid any potential fallout or legal ramifications that may come. This will help to keep employees safe and the entire work environment compliant with any updates OSHA may have.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!