Different OSHA perspectives lead to different results
The news has been filled lately with stories about reducing regulatory oversight on businesses as a way to strengthen the private sector and encourage investment. While it’s true that regulatory agencies and government departments are known to add more bureaucracy than they remove, at a local level, these agencies can be more of an asset to your business and not just red tape.
Say what you will about government oversight of business, but when it comes to the safety of our fellow men and women in the workplace, the issue transcends politics. At the federal level, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, exists to assure safe and healthy working conditions for men and women. At the local level in Michigan, MiOSHA’s stated goal is, “(working) collaboratively with employers and employees to better prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.” It’s the collaborative part of that last sentence that I want to focus on.
Regulator to resource
OSHA regulations can be confusing, difficult to interpret and — sometimes — seemingly contradictory. Navigating these regulations can be (and typically is in larger firms) a full-time job. Even with dedicated in-house resources, contractors find themselves constantly faced with changing jobsite conditions and situations that require interpretations of safety regulations. At the state level, look for divisions built to provide you with support you may need — free jobsite visits and inspections to assist contractors with difficult jobsite conditions. MiOSHA’s Consultation, Education and Training, or CET, division provides a great resource for contractors that is just a call away.
Publically announce project partnerships
Another great way to partner with your local regulator is to publically announce a project partnership. These partnerships are public proclamations the regulators and the partnering firms are putting the safety of their workers above everything else.
Partnering at the state level establishes a team approach to safety for contractors and regulators. The local chapter and the partnering contractors sign a pledge to strive for zero safety incidents on the project. Regular site inspections should be conducted and are, in most cases, free from citations and penalties.
Disciplinarian to valuable consultant
The safety of another human being is a moral obligation, and when those moral obligations are challenged by things like tight schedules and profits, regulators should step in. That being said, I challenge all of my fellow construction industry professionals to shift your view of OSHA from disciplinarian to valuable consultant. It also helps that in most cases, consultations and programming from OSHA are free of charge.
The only effort needed on your part is to seek out these partners and be honest with yourself about where your safety program could use support. If you are open to a different perspective, you will receive a different result.