When OSHA changed its injury reporting requirements in January of 2015, employers were required to report the occurrence of all amputations within 48 hours of occurrence. As a result, employers were being inspected at a much higher frequency. Such was the case with a Horton Safety Consultants client in 2017. Fortunately, we were able to respond within 45 minutes of the inspectors’ arrival, and two professional safety consultants were on site to help our client through the process.
During the inspection, two newer OSHA compliance officers demonstrating their expertise and authority, expanded the inspection into areas involving combustible dust as the client’s process consists of the cutting and surfacing of materials generating dust. After the initial inspection, OSHA returned to the plant four times to collect samples of dust and perform industrial hygiene monitoring.
One inspection for safety violations was opened and a second inspection for health violations was also opened as mandated by OSHA’s standard operating procedure. Senior Safety Consultant Chris Heinz led negotiations at the first of two OSHA informal conferences. During negotiations, Chris accidentally kicked the table at the OSHA office with his steel-toed boot, startling OSHA’s Area Director. We can’t establish a cause and effect relationship, but Chris’ negotiations resulted in the elimination of one of the two citations and a reduction in penalties from $11,100 to $4,800.
A month later, our client received citations issued from the second inspection. OSHA issued three serious citations with a total penalty of $19,393. Chris’ knowledge of the regulations and circumstances surrounding the inspection proved valuable. His negotiating skills resulted in the elimination of one of the three citations and a change in category of the remaining two citations from serious to other-than-serious. The penalty was reduced from $19,393 to $6,900.
Chris Heinz’ role resulted in a reduction in the number and category of violations, while saving $20,000 in penalties. This is one of many examples of the value of working with a safety professional who understands the OSHA inspection process. Is your company prepared for the next OSHA inspection?
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