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OSHA - OSHA’s best kept secret

image Joann Natarajan, Compliance Assistance Specialist, OSHA, Austin, TX

AUSTIN - OSHA’s best kept secret is the OSHA Consultation Program provided by the Texas Department of Insurance. This no-cost safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, employers can find out about potential hazards at their workplace, improve programs that are already in place, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Employers with less than 500 workers are the focus of the program’s services.

 

    The consultation is confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff.  No citations or penalties will be issued and your only obligation is to correct 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.
    Using OSHA’s no-cost consultation service lowers injury and illness rates, ultimately saving both employers and employees from the cost of accidents while raising morale and increasing productivity rates.
    Because consultation is a voluntary activity, you must request it. 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. OSHCON consultants attend the receive the same training classes at OSHA’s Training Institute to ensure they are able to evaluate hazards in the same way that OSHA compliance officers do in the field.   
    The consultant will start with an opening conference with you before beginning the walk through. The consultant will study your entire workplace, pointing out safety or health risks (some which may not have an applicable OSHA standard). The consultant will study your entire workplace or the specific operations you designate and discuss the applicable OSHA standards.  You can request help with a specific area in your facility, a review of written programs, up to a comprehensive review of your facility.  Employers that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system can apply for the Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) and be recognized for their safety efforts.  
    After the walk-through, the consultant will review the findings with you before leaving. Finally, the consultant will send you a detailed written report explaining the findings and confirming any abatement periods agreed upon.  The written report does not involve assessing penalties, as are OSHA citations.   They may also contact you from time to time to check your progress.
    To contact the OSHA Consultation program in Texas and request a free consultation, employers can call 1-800-252-7031 option 2, or visit  http://www.txcoshcon.com to locate the closest consultant.

natarajan.joann@dol.gov
512-374-0271 x232


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