There are those who believe OSHA is a research organization with a focus on protecting the ocean and it’s inhabitants. To be fair, growing up on the east coast, this author might have once believed this too.
While OSHA does involve the protection of a population, it isn’t endangered ocean wildlife; it’s all of us employees. OSHA’s mission statement is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” As an organization, they have been fighting for better working conditions since 1970.
Educating employers is also a key focus in their mission statement and in 2012 roughly 30,000 businesses took advantage of a free consultation.
What is an OSHA consultation?
Free consultations, put in place primarily for small business owners can be requested at any time. They are conducted by state agencies or universities who are brought in to work with employers. While the cost of the consultation is free, the benefits are far reaching so it’s a wonder why every small business doesn’t take advantage of the program.
Fear is likely the overriding reason why owners fail to schedule a consultation. Fears about what will happen if the consultation reveals anything damaging and fines are levied. These fears are misplaced however, as no citations are issued or penalties proposed. As a business owner, you are only responsible for correcting any serious job safety hazards before the actual visit.
Serious hazard is a broad term but applies to any condition where there is “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”
The benefits to an OSHA consultation
The benefits of a consultation can be felt by all levels of your business, from your employees to your managers, as well as you the owner and the overall health of your business.
Benefits to your employees
- Teach them to recognize hazards and remove them.
- Protects them from injury and illness.
- Prevents loss of life.
Benefits to your managers
- Allows them to be better at their jobs by having a better defense and action plan.
- Increase productivity and quality of work.
- Know exactly what is required to remain compliant.
Benefits to the owner and business
- Gives better understanding of costs associated with unsafe working conditions leading to accidents.
- Healthier bottom line by decreasing costs associated with workers compensation, lost workdays and productivity, and better understanding of how to safely operate equipment.
It’s hard to argue that the free OSHA consultation is valuable to small businesses. The benefits described above are more than enough reason to schedule a visit for your business. There is another added benefit to a successful OSHA consultation, enrollment into the organizations SHARP program. SHARP stands for Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program with admission granted to those businesses that show exemplary injury and illness prevention.
Upon admission to SHARP your business worksite will be exempt from OSHA inspections for as long as your certification is valid. This eliminates interruption to your business which should increase productivity. Far better to be prepared for a scheduled consultation to gain the benefits of the visit and SHARP certification then to have your business halted and cited/penalized for unsafe conditions.
Brian Levesque is a professional bog writer who works for eCompliance. Brian is a skilled blogger with a keen attention to detail. When he isn’t blogging, Brian enjoys listening to music and trying new foods.