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Tips From Fipps: From Fear to Empowerment

05 December, 2023

Three people wearing PPE in a factory shaking hands

From Fear to Empowerment: How OSHA's Free Consultation Transforms Workplace Safety

In the realm of workplace safety, the mere mention of an OSHA inspection often evokes a sense of trepidation. The fear of regulatory scrutiny, potential fines, and the arduous process of compliance has, at times, overshadowed the essential goal of ensuring the well-being of those who power our businesses — the employees.

Imagine a paradigm shift where the notion of an OSHA inspection is not met with fear, but embraced as an opportunity for empowerment. Picture a scenario where businesses, far from dreading the regulatory spotlight, actively seek guidance to fortify their safety protocols, thereby fostering a culture of safety that permeates every aspect of their operations. This transformation is not just conceivable; it's a reality that unfolds through the often-overlooked gem in OSHA's arsenal—the On-Site Consultation Program.

DN_Tips-From-Fipps_OSHA-Consulting-FloatWhat is the On-Site Consultation Program? 

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program is a confidential service aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses identify and address workplace hazards. It's not just about compliance; it's about creating a culture of safety that permeates every aspect of your operations. 

The program is accessible to a wide range of businesses, ensuring that even smaller enterprises can benefit. Regardless of industry or size, OSHA's consultants work collaboratively with businesses to enhance safety measures.

Identify and Correct Hazards 

There are several advantages to participating in OSHA's program. Participating in the program provides your business with a fresh set of expert eyes to identify potential hazards. From machinery risks to ergonomic concerns, OSHA's consultants leave no stone unturned in ensuring a comprehensive assessment. 

Beyond hazard correction, the program assists in the development and enhancement of safety and health programs tailored to your business. This proactive approach not only safeguards your employees, but also contributes to increased operational efficiency. 

Businesses can experience a tangible reduction in workers' compensation costs by identifying and addressing potential risks. Investing in safety today is an investment in the financial stability and reputation of your business tomorrow.

How to Participate 

Businesses can reach out to OSHA and schedule a visit at a time that suits their operations. During the consultation, OSHA's consultants work closely with your team to understand the nuances of your workplace. Expect open communication, collaborative problem-solving, and practical recommendations that go beyond mere compliance. 

The journey doesn't end with the consultation. Take proactive steps to implement the recommendations provided by OSHA's consultants, transforming them into tangible improvements in your safety and health protocols.

Real Stories, Real Impact 

Real-world examples speak louder than words. These narratives illustrate the transformative impact on workplace safety, showcasing the positive ripple effect on employee morale, productivity, and overall business success. 

In November 2019, a Wisconsin's OSHA On-Site Consultation Program (WisCon) visit took place at VerHalen, Inc. WisCon identified several hazards during the initial safety and industrial hygiene visit. VerHalen implemented several changes to improve worker safety that include:  

  • Developing a formal Safety Management System (SMS), including a Safety 'Playbook'. The SMS resulted in standardized programs, procedures, and forms that applied to all facets of the organization. 
  • Scheduling regular refresher training for employees. 
  • Enhanced training records, including obtaining safety training records from applicable union organizations. 
  • Standardized fall protection equipment and methods to store equipment. 
  • Improving the safety culture through employee hazard recognition activities, such as audits, and hazard reporting and improvement suggestions. 

Although multiple hazards were initially identified, the WisCon consultants saw a strong commitment from VerHalen, Inc. to improve its safety and health programs, where they became recognized by the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in May 2022. Read more at: https://www.osha.gov/successstories

Don’t Just Be Smart, Be SHARP 

The SHARP program acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Small businesses that achieve SHARP status receive a deferral from OSHA or the State Plan programmed inspections for the period that the SHARP designation is valid.  

Not only do you get expert guidance from OSHA professional consultants, you also get a year's exception from regular inspections.

Safety in Action 

Take proactive steps toward a safer workplace by leveraging the valuable insights and resources offered by OSHA's free consulting services. By actively engaging with this service, you're not just ticking boxes; you're investing in the heart of your business—the people who make it all happen. 

Remember, workplace safety is not just a legal obligation but a commitment to the well-being of your most valuable asset—your employees.

Additional Resources: 

- OSHA On-Site Consultation Program https://www.osha.gov/consultation 

- OSHA Small Business Program https://www.osha.gov/smallbusiness/program-info 

- Safety and Health Programs Step-by-Step Guide https://www.osha.gov/safety-management/step-by-step-guide