June is National Workplace Safety Month! And how better to celebrate workplace safety than preparing effectively for an OSHA safety inspection. With visits from federal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspectors up by more than 300 percent, it’s obvious that OSHA is making a more concerted effort to come into the workplace. You’re likely wondering how the increase in monitoring and safety inspections will impact your day to day protocols. In today’s blog, we discuss the goals behind OSHA’s increased inspection rate, and what you should be ready for or aware of in order to comply with the inspection.
Increase Inspections and Increased Accountability
OSHA is charged with enforcing federal health and safety laws and regulations across the country. There seems to be a recent surge in the investigation of temporary worker staffing agencies because it is in these scenarios that violations are more likely to go overlooked. Increased inspections are the result of increased accountability. The purpose of this program, as announced by OSHA in its Temporary Worker Initiative of April 2013, is to highlight employers’ responsibilities to ensure that temporary workers are also protected from workplace hazards.
This is a positive development, though increased inspections may seem like a hassle at the time. The overarching emphasis is that temporary workers are safe in the workplace and hold the same rights to safety and wellbeing that non-temporary workers do. This will help strengthen the temporary staffing market as more workers may consider temporary or hourly work as a safe and viable alternative to working full time, and it will also help to strengthen the market overall as teams are more productive and businesses save money when their workers are safe on the job.
Preparing for an Inspection
In FY 2014, 15 percent of OSHA site visits resulted in the identification of safety violations. The most common violations included hazard communication, noise exposure, and a lack of or inappropriate protective equipment. The nature of contract and temporary workers is an interesting one for an employer but keep the following in mind. OSHA has cited many host employers for violations related to temporary staff but did not in turn issue citations to the staffing agencies involved.
The takeaway here is that employers are responsible for not only their own full-time employees but also contractors and temporary staff. The best thing you can do to prepare for an inspection is to self-audit, make changes when needed, elicit feedback from employees (both temporary and regular) on the working conditions and ask where you may be able to do better as a company.
Acknowledging that while safety legislation and enforcement can be a bureaucratic or tedious process, it is founded in good intentions and complying is not an option for responsible businesses. Take swift action to identify and eliminate safety vulnerabilities. It’s in the best interest of your temporary workers, your regular employees, and the business.
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