ABC, in conjunction with the Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS), filed comments with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opposing a proposed rule that will change how the agency will operate its On-site Consultation Program for all worksites, including those that have Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) status. ABC also filed its own set of comments focusing on the direct impact this proposed rule would have on the construction industry.
Under the proposed changes, any allegations of potential workplace hazards or violations from any source, including state or local health departments or the media, could terminate an on-site consultation visit and turn it into an enforcement visit. In addition, OSHA would be able to inspect all sites within an industry when “workplace accidents occur that generate widespread public concern about a hazard or substance,” even if those sites were normally exempt due to their status in the On-site Consultation or SHARP programs.
Currently, On-site Consultation and SHARP jobsites can be exempt from inspections for up to two years with a possible extension of up to three years, but in the proposed changes OSHA suggested that time frame be limited to one year with an extension of up to two years.
In the comments, ABC and CWS expressed concern that OSHA’s proposed revisions would expose On-site Consultation participants to a greater likelihood of enforcement if hazards are discovered during consultation visits, eliminating a key incentive for program participation and reducing the number of companies that choose to participate.
ABC and CWS also pointed out that the proposed changes to the On-site Consultation Program represent another step taken by OSHA that de-emphasizes compliance assistance programs while increasing the focus on enforcement. In addition, the comments noted that the revision will step up enforcement on responsible employers who make a good-faith effort to comply with a complex regulatory system instead of focusing on recalcitrant employers who knowingly ignore safety precautions.
“There is no pressing need for the proposed changes, particularly considering the real possibility that finalizing the rule will decrease participation in the programs and the reality that employers involved are those who are proactively seeking to improve safety in their workplace,” the comments stated.
The comments also cited several stories taken from OSHA’s website depicting how the on-site consultation program has positively impacted small employers.
For more information on OSHA’s on-site consultation program, visit the OSHA website
To read ABC’s comments, click here
To read the CWS comments, click here