Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, March 31

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More than half of the claims OSHA investigates are related to reported safety violations. But, did you know that the rest stem from employee whistle blower complaints about violations unrelated to safety?

At least 23 federal statutes require OSHA investigators to handle complaints of retaliation arising from employees reporting things like tax law consumer products violations, food, nuclear industry, motor carrier, pipeline and maritime safety laws, and violations of health insurance laws.

In 2019, a new Taxpayer First Act made OSHA responsible for investigating retaliation complaints filed by employees who reported their employers’ alleged underpayment of taxes, violations of internal revenue laws or any other violations of federal laws relating to tax fraud.

Learning that OSHA is investigating a complaint about any part of your operations is stressful, even when you are certain everything is within regulation. Preparation for a visit from OSHA is crucial, including identifying all documentation & reports you will need to present to investigators.

What to do first when OSHA inspectors are coming

1. Make sure your system can deliver complete document retention

Data should be kept on the server to be accessed directly at any time either from the production system or if archived, from the archived file.

If there is an OSHA inspection, your enterprise should ask that all document requests be provided in writing (it can be handwritten) to remove any confusion over what documents are being requested and so that the employer is not cited for failure to produce a document it did not believe was requested by the compliance officer. Rely on:

  • System documentation – to prove you have followed compliance and protocol. Advanced software should provide solutions to providing documentation to OSHA, including all required accident reporting, which all organizations (with a few exceptions) must file electronically.
2. Make certain Lockout/Tagout procedures are in place and you can prove they are strictly enforced.

You can do this by having your telematic systems monitoring and recording any incident of mechanical problems, checklists and lockout functions. Rely on:

  • Safety Checklist – questions configured to lockout a vehicle if a safety question is failed
  • Unit Profile – configured to lockout a truck on impact meaning the vehicle cannot be operated. Only a Maintenance user who is logged in to the unit can reset the lockout state.
  • Resetter/Maintenance Role – specific workers who are the only ones who can unlock a unit in lockout state.

Any unit that has been or is in lockout state is tracked within the system. The documentation can be exported out in report form.

3. Certification records are up to date for all powered industrial trucks

Operator Certifications should show operators who have completed training, when it was completed and expiration dates. Rely on:

  • System configuration – to stop a vehicle from being used if the operator does not have the correct certifications
  • System tracking – all accidents or near misses by operator and vehicle. This provides information to managers to meet the training requirements.

OSHA investigates complaints by phone or dispatches inspectors without notice to conduct an in-person inspection. So, being prepared and knowing what to do, and what not to do, is important to successful interactions with OSHA inspectors. 

Your telematic system should make OSHA compliance easier, providing insight that identifies risky behavior, issues and training needs, while providing documented proof that the operation is in full compliance.

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