What happens when OSHA violations occur on your golf course? Who is to blame? Most of the time people believe that it is ALWAYS a failure of management.

That Management Failed to:

  • Develop safety policies
  • Failed to provide safety training
  • Failed to enforce the rules.

But, what happens when you did all that and an accident happens anyway?

OSHA violations – who’s fault is it? 

If an accident occurs due to your staff’s negligence or failure to follow rules, it is possible to prove that your club has implemented all safety precautions necessary. In this instance, the OSHA violation will be written off as a result of misconduct, and therefore will not be your fault as an employer, and you will not be subject to OSHA penalties.

As an employer, it’s important to ensure that all safety resources are readily available to your crew

Employees must comply with the Golf Course’s safety rules and regulations, according to section 5(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. There are four safety steps that should be in place to protect your golf course and staff. Following and implementing these steps will allow you to show proof that you are reinforcing the OSHA regulations.

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., partner in the Atlanta and Washington, D.C, offices of law firm Fisher Phillips and former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA under President George W. Bush identified these four steps as written policy, education, tracking and disciplinary action.

All employees should have access to written safety policies and regulations

  1. Written Policy: You must provide all golf course maintenance staff with a written document outlining the safety policies and regulations to adhere to when working.
  2. Education: All staff must attend an educational session informing them of the proper safety procedures in their workplace. They must then sign a document stating that they acknowledge that they have received the training.
  3. Tracking: You must constantly inspect your staff to ensure that they are following the safety regulations. Should they be ignoring the instruction, it is important to take note of the incident and keep a record. As with all things Safety, “if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen”.
  4. Disciplinary Action: You must keep record of all instances where employees have displayed misconduct that has resulted in disciplinary action.

OSHA violation consequences

Most golf courses will have disciplinary procedures in place to ensure all staff remains accountable. Your golf course may have a specialized approach; however, the most common approach is the implementation of these four steps of progressive discipline:

step one – verbal warning 

If an employee is not cooperating with the golf course safety regulations for the first time, the employee will receive a verbal warning. The supervisor will document, in writing, this meeting. In addition, the employee will have to attend the same training they did before they started the task in question.

Step two – written warning

Schedule a meeting with the employee to review prior relevant conduct and inform the employee of the consequences of their continued failure to follow safety rules including additional discipline, up to termination. This document should be signed by the employer and employee. Repeat of orientation safety training should be documented before the employee returns to work.

Step three – suspension

After a third offense, failure to follow safety rules will result in a two-day suspension without being paid, along with another training session. Keep in mind that local or union rules might prevent unpaid suspension.

Step four – termination

After documenting the steps in progressive discipline and associated corrective action the final step is termination of employment. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, employees may be terminated without prior notice and disciplinary action. In cases where, due to misconduct, a staff member has put other golf course maintenance staff members in “imminent-danger”, you may increase the repercussions to a third or fourth offence action. This is even despite it being the first offence.

You cannot control your crew’s actions, but you can ensure that you train them and provide all safety resources

If you are able to implement all four of the steps above and provide proof of all of them to OSHA, it is likely that the citation will be removed from your golf course. It is important to remember that although these steps protect your golf course, it is the safety of the golf course staff that is of the highest importance. Implementing strict procedures is for the mutual benefit and safety of all golf course staff.

avoid being targeted 

The nature of your outdoor golf course work tasks may expose you to additional OSHA inspections as your staff and site are openly visible. If you feel that you are being unnecessarily targeted by repeated inspections by OSHA, find out why.

Repeated inspections and targeting are a clear indication that OSHA feels you are not fully meeting the safety requirements and regulations. Identify their concerns and address them to avoid repeated inspections. But most importantly, make sure that you meet all OSHA regulations before you move any discussions further.

…and if you need advice, feel free to schedule a demo call:


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