COLUMBUS, Ohio—Preparation and knowledge of your company's past safety issues are important to know before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows up at your factory, Chris Whitehorne said at the Environmental Health and Safety Summit.
"Before you have OSHA knocking on your door, you want to be prepared in advance. Most importantly, know your risks and address them. I think everybody in this room knows the top three concerns that they have at their facility," said Whitehorne, director of health and safety with U.S. Compliance, an environmental health and safety firm in Excelsior, Minn.
He said it's a good idea to identify the top three to five concerns and work on fixing them.
Whitehorne recommended knowing the company's history with OSHA and checking the agency's website, where you can search all factory locations and see any citations. Pay special attention to repeat violations.
"Have there been inspections in the past at your facility? Do you know what sites have had past violations? And most importantly, do you understand and make sure your facility has addressed them and responded to them correctly?" he asked.
Employee complaints are the most common trigger for an OSHA inspection, if OSHA determines workers are in imminent danger, Whitehorne said.
"So, in terms of employee complaints, one of the biggest things to really eliminate the potential for OSHA visiting is to address your employee's concerns. That's what it comes down to," he said. "Do you know what their concerns are? Do they have complaints? If they're voicing them, are you tracking them? Are you addressing them in a timely manner?
"Those are really critical items. A lot of times. when we see these complaint inspections, what's occurring is they've been brought up by the safety committee. They've been brought to the supervisor, and they've fallen on deaf ears. Nobody responds to them. Eventually they come to a point where they're so disgruntled—concerned, really, about their own health and safety—that they notify OSHA."