OSHA GLARE GETTING BRIGHTER

In a recent meeting where the OSHA Area Director for West Virginia explained how OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on recordkeeping would be carried out in our state, it was made abundantly clear that the OSHA recordkeeping practices of employers will be under a much brighter spotlight by the agency going forward than many believed.

Attendees of the meeting were advised that there will be five specific inspections in the next 24 months which focus solely on recordkeeping. The targets will be those employers who have low DART rates in high-injury-rate industries – like poultry processing and foundries (his words, not ours). You can bet logging is up there as well. For those who don’t know what a DART rate is, it is days away from work, restrictions and transfers. All of those categories are located on the OSHA 300 log. Those employers with fewer than 40 employees or those in VPP status will be targeted.

Also, these inspections are going to be like none you’ve had before. The inspections will not just focus on your 300 log and related injury reports. Inspectors will review absenteeism records, payroll records and payroll rosters, workers compensation records – even available insurance records. And yes, they will have a Medical Access Order in hand before they step through your door. They will particularly focus on safety incentives you may have, looking for the suppression of injury reporting through such incentives. In depth interviews with employees will be undertaken on these subjects, with particular focus on interviewing the individual who keeps your OSHA 300 log and their knowledge of their responsibilities, first aid personnel, your medical provider and others. And if your DART rate exceeds 4.2, that will generally merit a full inspection.

These will be serious, in-depth inspections, so employers are advised to be on alert. And the need is even more acute considering some of OSHA’s other recent announcements that the agency plans to increase penalty amounts for non-compliance. One last relevant tidbit – of the 250 inspections conducted by the OSHA Charleston Area Office since October of 2009, 200 have been cited for recordkeeping issues. Forewarned is forearmed.

David Dick has a unique background of hands-on executive experience, prior to entering the practice of law. For 15 years, Mr. Dick was employed in a number of human resource management positions, both plant site and corporate, at numerous locations by FMC Corporation, a Fortune 150 diversified manufacturer with over $4 billion in sales.
 
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