Don’t get fined by OSHA

In light of the recent announcement by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) that it will provide another three-month extension on the enforcement of federal fall protection guidelines (the new date is Dec. 12, 2012),  it’s time to remind those in the remodeling industry how to avoid getting fined by OSHA.

Outside of the obvious—which is to follow the rules—take advantage of OSHA-funded nationwide Onsite Consultation Program to ensure that you’re following those rules correctly.

The free consultation process involves an onsite visit with an OSHA consultant. He or she reviews record-keeping logs, first aid logs and accident reports and written safety plans involving hazard-specific programs.

Then the consultant conducts a walk-through of the job site. It is at that time that the consultant appraises the environmental hazard, mechanical hazards, work practices, job safety and health program.

Following the evaluation process, business owners are given a report of the findings and action requirements to rectify cited problems. Depending on the scope of the identified deficiencies, the business owner typically has 30 days to correct them.

The program carries a no fault, no penalty condition on the business owner, and consultations are kept confidential from OSHA. However, if a business owner refuses to eliminate an identified hazard, the consultant has the authority to contact an OSHA enforcement officer.

In addition to organizing a consultation, business owners should implement a safety and health program.

This program outlines safety plans and procedures at the company and contains documentation on following those procedures. It is usually a written document that is updated regularly to refine the safety systems as they can be improved or based on OSHA regulation changes. Employees are usually involved in writing and updating this plan, as their experience in the work site is the foundation for the plan content.

A written plan identifies job site supervisors who are responsible for inspecting the job site for hazards. That person also should have completed the 30-hour OSHA training course.

Other documented items in the plan include:

  • personal protection equipment
  • pre-jobsite setup plan
  • OSHA safety training for employees
  • documentation and actual site photos
  • emergency action plan
  • chemical hazard list
  • record-keeping of occupational injuries or illness
  • a hazard communication plan.

For more on compliance standards in your state or to contact your state’s Onsite Consultation program provider, visit the OSHA Website.

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