If the answer is “yes”, you need a Safety Committee. Create the policy and procedures for your safety committee, identify your committee representatives, document appropriately, and your company will be ready for an unexpected inspection.
Safety, health, and construction compliance officers perform workplace inspections to measure and enforce employer performance in providing employees a safe and healthful workplace in accordance with the Oregon Safety Employment Act (OSEAct). They perform unannounced safety and health inspections of the workplaces of both public and private-sector employers. Over 5,000 unannounced safety and health inspections are done each year in Oregon. For those with a business in Washington State, the information provided above is close to what you will see there as well.
The purpose of a Safety Committee is to bring workers and managers together to achieve and maintain a safe, healthful workplace. Effective safety committees find solutions to problems that cause workplace accidents, illnesses, and injuries. Fewer accidents, injuries, and illnesses translates into lower workers’ compensation claims costs and insurance rates.
- If your workplace has ten (10) or fewer employees — including part-time and seasonal employees — you can start a safety committee that meets the needs of your small business. Paperwork is minimal, and the meetings are less formal than traditional safety committee meetings.
- Companies/Organizations with fewer than 20 employees will need two (2) representatives, other than the owner(s), for the committee.
- Companies/Organizations with more than 20 employees are required to have four (4) representatives, other than the owner(s), for the committee.
The Safety Committee meetings are to be taken seriously. Establish ground rules to keep the meetings orderly and efficient and identity the topics and actions necessary to create and maintain a safe work environment. For help on how to run meetings efficiently, check out Roberts Rules at http://www.robertsrules.org/rulesintro.htm
What to do If a Compliance Officer Knocks on Your Door:
- Treat the Compliance Officer with respect and ask for proper identification.
- Request the reason for the proposed inspection.
- Document relevant information including the name of the Compliance Officer, agency represented, address, statutory authority under which the inspection is made and times of arrival and departure.
- Inform the Compliance Officer that before granting permission for the inspection, your local Safety Representative should be contacted.
- Escort the Compliance Officer to a conference room. Remember that any violations observed by the Officer during the walk to the meeting area can be documented as violations. Choose the route to the conference room with this point in mind. Politely request that the representative remain in the waiting area until the proper company officials are notified.
- Safety Committee Representatives should participate in the inspection if at all possible. If necessary, try to postpone the beginning of the inspection until the Safety Representatives can be present
- Accompany the Compliance Officer at all times. If possible, do not escort the Compliance Officer through work areas (garage or parking areas, shops, mechanical rooms, etc.) if these areas are not included in the focus of the inspection.
- Be prepared to acquaint the Compliance Officer with your safety programs.
- Take detailed notes about the parts of the facility that are observed and note any personnel contacted by the Inspector.
- If the Inspector takes a photograph, take the same photograph from the same angle. This is very important. Photos of this type help to provide a defense to any allegations that might result from the inspection. Keep a log noting the location and subjects of each picture that you take. This will be very helpful later in assembling a report of the Inspector’s visit.
- Do not volunteer any information; limit the conversation and your responses to questions that are asked.
- Do not admit or agree to any alleged violations.
- Limit the inspection to the agreed-upon purpose and to the specified site.
- Request a closing conference when the inspection has been completed.
- Take comprehensive notes during the closing conference.
- Request specific regulations for any alleged violations.
- Ask if the Compliance Officer is planning to recommend any citations for alleged violations.
- Remember the location of the OSHA poster display. Be ready to produce the OSHA 300 Log and other related documentation.
About Us: Lassen Solutions, LLC offers Safety & HR Management guidance to small and growing businesses in Oregon and Washington State. Chris Lassen, the Safety Management Consultant for the company, carries more than 25 years of experience in the field and is an expert witness for Workers Compensation and other safety issues in the Oregon courts. Cynthia Lassen, a Human Resources Management Professional with more than 25 years experience in the Northwest, provides the HR Management support services including the development and update of employee manuals & job descriptions, employee relations support, and recruiting. Lassen Solutions LLC also offers fast, accurate & current employment background check services at www.backgroundbrief.com.