Should You Use OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program?

Should You Use OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program?

In 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) on-site consultation program helped 27,871 small and medium-sized businesses to identify and fix hazards. Most (87 percent) of the consultations took place at businesses with 100 or fewer employees, many of whom otherwise lacked the resources to employ their own on-site safety professional. More than 140,000 total hazards were addressed, and an estimated 3.5 million workers protected from possible injury, illness or death.

The consultation program is free to employers and separate from OSHA’s inspection efforts. Identified hazards are confidential and are not reported to OSHA inspection staff. Citations and penalties are not issued, though employers are obligated to correct serious safety and health hazards that are brought to their attention.

Should your business make use of this program? Ask yourself the following questions:

Do I want to learn more about workplace safety?

If you do, the OSHA on-site consultation program is for you. A well trained professional consultant will tour your workplace and assist you in recognizing and removing hazards that could cause injury or illness to your workers. He or she can also provide insight into how you can create a culture of safety within your workforce, encouraging your employees to take proactive responsibility for their own safety and that of the worksite as a whole.

Do I want to reduce accident and injury-related business costs?

A well thought out and executed workplace injury and illness prevention program will help you reduce your company’s illness and injury rates, decrease workers’ compensation costs and lost workdays, and limit associated equipment damage and production losses.

If you’re like most employers, you answered “yes” to both questions. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment with an OSHA on-site consultant, visit the Consultation Directory. Once you’re identified your state’s consultation project office, you can call or email to get the process started. Priority is given to companies in to high-hazard industries such as manufacturing and construction.

What to Expect from Your Consultation

During your consultation, the OSHA consultant will examine the conditions in your workplace and interact with your employees while looking for potential injury and illness hazards. He or she will help you understand applicable OSHA standards as well as other risks that may not be cited under OSHA standards but still pose a danger to employees. The consultant will also appraise your present injury and illness prevention program or advise you in the creation of one. You’ll receive a written report detailing recommendations and agreements and can request additional training and assistance to help you implement them.

Want to learn more about workplace safety? Our team can help you create a workplace safety plan or improve upon a program you already have in place. Give us a call today to request additional information or assistance.

OSHA Restrooms and Sanitation Requirements

OSHA Restrooms and Sanitation Requirements

According to some estimates, as many as 700,000 U.S. adults are transgender—meaning they identify as a gender that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Associated issues have been a hot topic lately—one even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is addressing.

OSHA recently released a best practices publication on restroom access for transgender workers. Within it, they explain that restroom access is a health and safety matter. When an employer requires an employee to use a restroom that is not consistent with his or her gender identity, or restricts the employee to a specific or gender-neutral restroom, it may make the worker fear for his or her physical safety at work. This can result in restroom avoidance and potentially serious physical injury or illness.

OSHA suggests that employers implement written policies that permit all employees to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity as well as provide single-occupancy unisex facilities or multiple-occupant, gender-neutral facilities with lockable single occupant stalls. Any employee can then choose what he or she feels to be the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself.

OSHA Requires Accessible and Sanitary Restrooms for All Employees

Transgender issues aside, OSHA regulations require employers to provide all workers with sanitary and accessible restrooms. Access to the facilities must be prompt and a minimum number of such facilities must be available. This means employers must:

  • Consider the size of the workforce to ensure they’ve provided an adequate number of restrooms to prevent long lines. On construction sites, this means at least one toilet for 20 or fewer workers and one toilet plus one urinal for every 40 workers.
  • Allow employees to use the restroom however often and for however long as needed.
  • Avoid procedures (such as signing out bathroom keys) that cause extended delays.

If a restroom is not available on the jobsite, there must be one less than 10 minutes away. For farmworkers, the restroom facilities must be no more than a quarter mile away.

Employers must maintain the sanitary condition of their restrooms as well. This means there must be:

  • Hot and cold running water or lukewarm water available
  • Hand soap or similar cleansing product provided
  • Access to warm air blowers or individual hand towels
  • Trash cans for disposal of feminine hygiene products and hand towels

For more information on OSHA’s restroom and sanitation requirements, you can read the standards 29 CFR 1910.141, 29 CFR 1926.51 and 29 CFR 1928.110.