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Article # 13102

Free Help From OSHA Here’s How

Knowledge of your workplace hazards and ways to eliminate them can only improve your own operations and the management of your firm. By using a free consultation service largely funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational safety and health management systems, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

The service is delivered by state governments using well-trained, professional staff. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available. This safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort; therefore, no citations are issued or penalties proposed. It's confidential, too. Your name, your firm's name, and any information you provide about your workplace, plus any unsafe or un-healthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff. Your only obligation will be to commit yourself to correcting serious job safety and health hazards - a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner. You will get professional advice and assistance on the correction of workplace hazards and benefit from onsite training and assistance provided by the consultant to you and your employees. The consultant can help you establish or strengthen an employee safety and health program, making safety and health activities routine considerations, rather than crisis-oriented responses.

In many states, employers may participate in the OSHA Consultation SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program). This program provides incentives and support to smaller, high-hazard employers to develop, implement, and continuously improve effective safety and health programs at their worksite(s). The program recognizes employers who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health by receiving a comprehensive safety and health consultation visit, correcting all workplace safety and health hazards, adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems, and agreeing to request further consultative visits if major changes in working conditions or processes occur that may introduce new hazards.

Because consultation is a voluntary activity, you must request it. A telephone call or letter to OSHA sets the consulting machinery in motion. The consultant will discuss your specific needs with you and set up a visit date based on the priority assigned to your request, your work schedule, and the time needed for the consultant to adequately prepare to serve you.