SAFETY SOLUTIONS: OSHA Is My Friend
This month I would like to bring to your attention
that OSHA has many free resources for the small
business owner. These benefits can be found on the
OSHA website which is located at www.osha.gov.
Should you be afraid of OSHA? Well, the answer is no if
you are following their safety standards. I currently teach
for a couple of major OSHA Training Institutes. California
State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and College of
Southern Nevada (CSN). When I teach at these training
institutes, my students always ask where they can obtain
free safety, health or environmental resources they can
use at their places of employment. So when I thought
about this month’s newsletter, I thought that I would share
this information with you.
Benefits and Resources
OSHA’s Free On-site Consultation
OSHA’s free On-site Consultation Program offers free
and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses
in all states across the country, with priority given
to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are
separate from enforcement and do 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 safety and health management systems.
Compliance Assistance Specialists (CAS)
Each OSHA Area Office in states under federal jurisdiction
has a Compliance Assistance Specialist. These staffers
respond to requests for help from a variety of groups, including
small businesses. CASs put on seminars and workshops
for small businesses and other groups. They promote OSHA’s
cooperative programs, OSHA’s training resources and the
OSHA website. To read more about Compliance Assistance
Specialists and find a directory of them in your area,
OSHA considers the size of the employer, among other
factors when determining the penalty to be proposed for
any violation. The Agency has always had detailed procedures
in place for making this determination: they are currently
in the OSHA Field Operations Manual (FOM)
(OSHA Instruction CPL 02-00-148 [PDF* - 3 MB]), which
is conveyed to and followed by all compliance staff.
The FOM provides that proposed penalties will be
reduced by the following percentages in considering
OSHA’s Cooperative Programs
60% penalty reduction may be applied if an employer
has 25 employees or fewer;
40% if the employer has 26-100 employees; and
20% if the employer has 101-250 employees.
OSHA offers cooperative programs under which businesses,
labor groups and other organizations can work
cooperatively with the Agency to help prevent fatalities,
injuries and illnesses in the workplace. For help on deciding
which cooperative programs are right for you, see Find
a Cooperative Program. If you are located in a State with
an OSHA-approved State Plan, please contact your state
agency for information about cooperative programs. All
States with OSHA-approved programs have their own
Hispanic/English-as-a-Second Language (ESL)
OSHA's Hispanic/English-As-Second-Language (ESL)
Coordinators assist a variety of groups, including small
businesses, trade associations, union locals and community
and faith-based groups with outreach, education and
training to Spanish-speaking workers. The coordinators
are available for Hispanic-related seminars, workshops
and speaking events. They promote cooperative programs,
such as the Alliance Program, as well as
Spanish/other than English training materials, compliance
assistance resources, and tools available on the OSHA
website. There is one Hispanic/ESL Coordinator in each of
the ten OSHA Regions.
Training and Education
OSHA’s Training Institute (OTI) and OSHA’s Training
Education Centers across the country provide basic and
advanced courses in safety and health. OSHA’s area
offices offer information services, such as audiovisual aids,
technical advice and speakers for special engagements. In
addition, the Training Centers have begun offering one-day
or one-half-day seminars to increase opportunities for
small business employers to attend safety/health training.
Susan Harwood Training Grants Program - Training and
educational programs for small businesses is a priority for
the grants program. The program has funded Small
Business Development Centers. This site has many free
Electronic Tools and Resources
OSHA eTools are "stand-alone", interactive, web-based
training tools on occupational safety and health topics.
They are highly illustrated and utilize graphical menus.
Some also use expert system modules, which enable the
user to answer questions, and receive reliable advice on
how OSHA regulations apply to their work site.
OSHA’s Safety and Health Management Systems eTool
provides guidance for employers looking to build effective
safety and health management systems at their worksites.
OSHA Safety and Health Topics Pages provide access to
selected occupational safety and health information. The subjects of these pages include specific workplace hazards,
as well as individual industries.
Record-keeping, Injury and Illness
OSHA's Compliance Assistance Quick Start is a tool to
introduce employers and employees, especially those at
new or small businesses, to the compliance assistance
resources on OSHA’s website.
OSHA's $afety Pays Program is an interactive expert
system to assist employers in estimating the costs of
occupational injuries and illnesses and the impact on a
company's profitability. This system uses a company's
profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness,
and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of
sales a company would need to generate in order to cover
Frequently Cited OSHA Standards is a query tool which
allows the user to determine the most frequently cited
Federal and State OSHA standards for a given SIC code.
The SIC code may be determined by accessing the online
OSHA has many publications, including specific topics
for small businesses that are available or can be ordered
Additional resources of information on safety-related
topics and programs include:
The holiday season is fast approaching so please take
time out of your busy schedule to place an emphasis on
safety. Until next month, stay safe.
National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health
Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety
National Safety Council
American Society of Safety Engineers
Podojil & Associates (www.podojilconsulting.com) also
has free safety topics, training materials, monthly toolbox
talks, safety checklists and PowerPoint programs that you
can download free.
For more information, click on the author link at the top of the page.