Focusing on Safety (and Potential Recognition) with OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program

If you are a small or medium-sized business and want to know how you are doing in terms of safety, one option is to simply ask OSHA by participating in its voluntary On-site Consultation Program. If you elect to participate in this program, a consultant will work with you to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site Consultation services are confidential, separate from enforcement, and do not result in penalties or citations. One caveat, however, is that you will be required to correct any serious job safety and health hazards that are identified through participation in the program. A directory with Consultation Program contact information can be found here.

Although you may elect to limit the scope of the consulation services to one or more specific problems, OSHA suggests a complete review of your safety and health plan including the following: (1) appraisal of all mechanical and environmental hazards and physical work practices; (2) appraisal of the present injury and illness prevention program or establishment of one; (3) a conference with management on findings; (4) a written report of recommendations and agreements; and (5) training and assistance with implementing recommendations. Similar to a typical OSHA inspection, the consulation will include an “opening conference,” “walkthrough,” and “closing conference.”

One potential benefit of participating in the On-site Consultation Program is that you may also be eligible to participate in the On-site Consultation Program’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). If you succeed in satisfying all SHARP requirements – as this company here did recently – the Consultation Project Manager in your state may recommend your worksite for SHARP approval. The benefits of being certified as a SHARP site include protecting your employees from workplace hazards, creating a better work environment, building your reputation, and also obtaining an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to two years and a possible SHARP renewal for up to three years.

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