Recently, I read the following tweet from the Department of Labor:
— US Labor Department (@USDOL) November 9, 2015
Yes, employers, it is true, OSHA will provide you a free on-site evaluation of your business’s OSHA compliance and safety practices.
OSHA’s on-site consultation program offers free and confidential safety and occupational health 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 injury and illness prevention programs.
OSHA continues to explain that the consultation program is separate from its inspection efforts, are confidential, and could even qualify the employer for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections (non-routine, post-accidents inspections not included, and query what happens after year one expires).
There is no doubt that safety audits reduce workplace injuries. The question is whether you want to invite OSHA to perform that audit, or if you’d rather invite your friendly neighborhood employment lawyer or OSHA consultant. Maybe I’ve become cynical from my nearly two decades as a management-side lawyer, but I am always wary of inviting government scrutiny, regardless of promises of no-negative-consequences. Yes, you absolutely should be auditing your workplace for OSHA compliance; I just feel a whole lot more comfortable if someone other than the OSHA is doing the auditing.