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Safe worksite advice

On the Job, Safety & Codes | October 1, 2015 | By:

Free OSHA consultations for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The On-site Consultation Program offered by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides free and confidential advice to small- and medium-sized businesses, with priority given to high-hazard worksites.

This service is separate from enforcement and does not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

The program conducted approximately 27,000 visits to small business worksites in the 2014 fiscal year. Because consultation is voluntary, a business must request it. The OSHA Consultation Directory will direct you to the proper contact for your area.

Here is a brief overview of what happens during a consultation:

Opening conference. The consultant will briefly review his or her role and the company’s obligations.

Walk-through. Together, you and the consultant will examine conditions in your workplace. OSHA encourages maximum employee participation in the walk-through. Talking with employees during the walk-through helps the consultant identify and judge the nature and extent of specific hazards. The consultant will study an entire workplace or the specific operations you designate.

Closing conference. The consultant will review findings. You can discuss problems, possible solutions and abatement periods to eliminate or control any serious hazards identified. In rare instances, the consultant may find an “imminent danger” situation. If so, you must take immediate action. In situations that would be judged a “serious violation” under OSHA criteria, you and the consultant are required to agree to a plan to eliminate or control the hazard.

Abatement and follow-through. The consultant will send you a written report explaining the findings and confirming any abatement. OSHA requires hazard abatement so consultations achieve their objective: employee protection. Failure to eliminate or control identified serious hazards (or an imminent danger) according to the plan will result in referral to an OSHA enforcement office. (This has rarely occurred in the past.)

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