What do you do now? First, you need to determine if you are going to be inspected by OSHA. OSHA has very few inspectors. Inspectors focus on certain industries that have poor safety records. They also focus on employers who have a history of non-compliance or a history of injuries. The industries that OSHA is particularly interested in are: construction, chemical production, food processing, textiles and heavy manufacturing. OSHA has an established system of priorities based upon the “worst first” approach. These are: catastrophes and fatal accidents, employee complaints, high-hazard industries and follow-up inspections. Keep in mind that OSHA visitations are largely driven by employee complaints. These complaints are kept anonymous in order to protect the complaining employee from retribution by the employer. Employers should focus on getting employees to call their supervisor first, not OSHA, about any safety concerns. What happens during an inspection? The OSHA inspector will explain the purpose and scope of their visit. Usually the inspector will want to first see any safety documentation on site. This includes injury-reporting logs, training records, MSDS and OSHA 300 logs. During the inspection signage and equipment will be viewed for compliance. If your facility has any violations you may be given the opportunity to show evidence of compliance efforts. The OSHA inspector may assist in determining the need for abatement of the hazards. If you are cited for non-compliance you must post a copy of the citation for 3 days or until the violation is abated, whichever is greater. Penalties for violations are determined by the area director. The penalties can range from de minimis to thousands of dollars depending on how serious or how willful the violation. Are you ready for an inspection? An unsafe workplace makes for a poor work environment, employees may be injured, it could cost time and money and it can cause public image problems for your business. Steve A. Hollingsworth, from 3E Co. recommends taking the following actions:
- Identify all safety and compliance issues. Prioritize those of greatest concern followed by those easiest to correct and document a strategy and timeline for addressing each issue.
- Audit your facility and its operations.
- Immediately take action to address acute threats to employee safety.
- Ensure that required written programs and record keeping are in place.
- Initiate training programs and related documentation.
- Develop a written plan and timeline to address all other issues identified in the audit.
- Implement the plan.
Running a business is difficult enough without adding to your concerns with a safety issue. Take time now to resolve any safety issues in your workplace. You will sleep better, your employees will be safe and it’s the right thing to do. If you have further questions about OSHA, please call our office at 480-733-6800 and ask to speak with Dennis Robbins. Dennis brings with him 23 years of experience as a commercial litigator, business and HOA attorney.
Published 2014, Davis Miles McGuire Gardner PLLC Law Firm, Tempe, AZ. davismiles.com