If you are a small business owner in a hazardous industry, it can be stressful trying to ensure that you are keeping up with the best safety and health practices used by larger companies. A good place to start is by taking advantage of OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program. OSHA’s consultation services offer confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium sized businesses at no cost. The service is separate from OSHA enforcement and does NOT result in penalties or citations. Anything found during the service will not be reported to the OSHA inspections staff, including your name, your firm’s name or any other information you provide about your workplace. The service is a way for consultants to work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards and assist in establishing and/or improving safety and health programs.
Malco Products, a Minnesotan manufacturing company, wanted to go beyond regulatory compliance in their workplace. They brought in an OSHA consultant to gain an “extra set of eyes” to improve their safety program. It can be really helpful to have a fresh perspective evaluate your workplace, especially when they have expertise gained from seeing a wide variety of different workplaces and exposure to hazards. During the walkthrough, they found a few hazards including electrical hazards related to the use of multi-outlet power strips and ungrounded fans. The hazards were all corrected in a timely manner before they led to any incidents or OSHA fines. They also uncovered a need for a “layered” approach to workplace safety, meaning that the commitment to safety had to start with upper management and trickle down to all other employees.
What to Expect From the Consultation
The consultation starts with an opening conference where the consultant will review their role, as well as the obligation you incur as the employer to resolve serious hazards that are found. Next, you will do a walkthrough of the workplace to examine the conditions. The more employees who participate in this walkthrough, the better. Engaging workers in this way informs and alerts them to potential hazards, as well as sends a message that you care enough about safety to include your workers. After the walkthrough, you will have a closing conference with the consultant to review the findings. They will go over areas that need to be improved, as well as acknowledge what you are doing right. In the case of a serious violation, you and the consultant will develop a plan of action to eliminate or control the hazard which you are expected to follow up on as soon as possible. Next, the consultant will send a detailed written report of the findings and confirm any abatement periods agreed upon.
Benefits of This Program
- Recognize and remove hazards from the workplace, which in turn protects workers.
- Ensures compliance with federal and state safety and health requirements.
- Improves the bottom line by:
- Lowering injury and illness rates
- Decreasing workers’ compensation costs
- Reducing lost workdays
- Limiting equipment damage and product losses
- Can qualify your company for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.
If you are interested in this program, you may request an appointment today to get a head start on creating the safest workplace for your employees.