Dresser & Associates

OSHA – lions and tigers and bears… oh my

If you received a letter from OSHA in early March of this year, you should be preparing for an inspection. These letters were sent out to employers who distinguished themselves with on-the-job injury rates exceeding the national average by a factor of two in their respective industries. OSHA has been gearing up since early 2008 to increase enforcement efforts in protecting American workers in the workplace and we are now seeing the results.

The letters, which were sent to businesses of all sizes across all industries, gave warning from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH of impending OSHA inspections as well as “personal and financial costs.” OSHA is not only rigorously enforcing current standards, but as we are seeing with other departments, they are expanding their efforts and maximizing penalties to employers with violations.

For small employers with up to 250 workers, Michaels reminded them that OSHA offers a free confidential consultation program through individual state agencies. This program provides on-site inspections upon the employers request and will exempt the company from fines if the state consultant finds a problem. The consultant’s role is to work with the employer to identify hazards and implement solutions to control or eliminate them. In addition, the consultant is available to support small businesses in developing and implementing safety programs in compliance with OSHA standards. According to James A. Lastowka & Eric J. Conn attorneys with McDermott Will & Emory LLP, the real message, however, is to get your act together because an OSHA inspection may be coming your way soon, within the next year.

Businesses need to get serious about workforce safety. Begin by:

  • Auditing safety recordkeeping, crosschecking with worker’s comp reports, medical records and OSHA 300 logs.
  • Evaluating written program(s). Be sure they are current and meet most recent rules and regulations as well as reflect what is actually happening in the work environment.
  • Checking training records to ensure documentation exists for all OSHA required training programs such as lock out- tag out and bio-hazardous training.
  • Inspecting the workplace. Check every nook and cranny for violations or hazards and fix them immediately.

The best defense is a well planned, documented, and executed safety program. If your employees can not only talk safety but demonstrate how it’s a part of their daily routine, your workers are safer, your business is better equipped to deal with an inspection, and you are doing the right thing for your employees. Although fines for past mistakes may not be preventable, placing a priority on taking care of your employees can have immediate results such as improved morale and increased productivity. Keep a vigilant eye and a serious, well-communicated, strictly-enforced safety program in place.

Contributed by:

Osborne Communications

Posted in Compliance & Taxes, Human Resources | Comments Off on OSHA – lions and tigers and bears… oh my

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