Wednesday, October 19, 2016

OSHA Inspections - What You Should Know!

In most cases, an inspection by OSHA is unscheduled. The first thing to do when an inspector arrives unannounced is confirm their credentials. Be sure to copy their badge and call the local OSHA office to confirm. You even have the right to request that the OSHA compliance officer obtain an inspection warrant in order to perform the survey. However, it is possible that requesting a warrant can create an adversarial situation that can lead to a more stringent review process and cause more headaches for you and your employees.

Inspections can occur for the following reasons:
  • Random selection
  • Targeting specific industries where they suspect hazardous workplace conditions
  • After a severe injury occurred on premise
  • Worker allegations of hazardous conditions or violations
  • Follow-up inspections to confirm hazardous conditions/violations have been abated
  • Referral (Police, Fire Department, etc.)
The first part of the inspection is an opening consultation. They will review why they selected the workplace, how they are going to conduct the survey and what paperwork they will need to review. You should assign two employees of your wash to accompany the officer. One person should be intimately familiar with all facility operations and safety procedures, while the other should be an employee that can take notes and pictures of everything that the inspector points out. Consider using someone other than management. This might be a good method of giving non-management personnel a feeling of being an integral part of the safety protocols at the wash.

The next phase of the inspection is the walk around. Make sure that your employee assigned to the officer takes detailed notes in order to have as much information as possible when reviewing any violations written up. These details could help mitigate fines associated with violations.

The last aspect of the inspection is the closing conference. During this session, the compliance officer will outline his findings and discuss any citations and proposed penalties. This is your opportunity to provide any explanations or documentation to offset their findings. If there is evidence of OSHA Standards violations or if serious hazards are identified, they may issue citations and fines.
OSHA is required to send a written violation report, "Citation and Notification of Penalty", within six (6) months of the visit. The report will describe the following:
  • The alleged OSHA Standard(s) violated (categorized as Willful, Serious, Other than Serious, Failure to Abate, or Repeated)
  • Proposed penalties
  • Deadline for correcting alleged hazards/violations

This Citation and Notification of Penalty Report MUST BE POSTED in a conspicuous area of the wash at all locations.
For violations categorized as ‘Serious’, OSHA has a practice of reducing penalties that pertain to small employers and those acting in good faith. This, however, would not apply to alleged ‘Willful’ violations.

The employer has the right to appeal. This appeal must be submitted within 15 working days, after receipt of the officer’s written citation report and submitted to the OSHA Area Director in writing.  Please note that this is the ONLY timeframe that you have to appeal. Once this timeframe elapses, you lose that right completely and your written citation becomes your final order.

Your penalty payment is also due within 15 working days after receipt of the officer’s written citation report.
Some of the most common violations that occur are:
  • No written Hazard Communication Plan in place
  • Lack of or improper use of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
  • No written procedures for Lock Out Tag Out
  • Insufficient eyewash stations
  • Electrical (particularly in the equipment rooms)
Make sure to stay up to date on all OSHA regulations, not only for the safety of your employees, but for the efficiency and effectiveness of your business.

Refer to for a list of required OSHA Standards.

Remember: A Safe Wash Protects People and Profits!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bloodborne Pathogen Program



Imagine this scenario: At your car wash, an employee is cleaning the industrial vacuums while another is detailing the interior of a vehicle. One receives a cut from a needle, or some other sharp object, causing the other to rush to their aid. Are the injured worker and the person coming to their aid aware of the procedures in place to protect them from contracting an infectious disease? Are there even written procedures available? If not, your business is in violation of the OSHA standard for Bloodborne Pathogens 29 CRF 1910.1030.

Your wash’s documented procedures should establish a minimum set of rules to prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens whenever an incident arises that may expose a worker to an unknown infection. They must also outline your company’s policy regarding who is authorized to respond to an incident where there might be exposure to a potentially infectious condition.

Bloodborne pathogens are defined as pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease. Two well-known examples are HIV and Hepatitis B. Bodily fluids are also included in this category since it is not always visibly possible to determine if there is the presence of contaminated blood.

OSHA requires that employers provide a written policy, acting as a communication of hazards, to every employee. Here are a few guidelines regarding the process:

  • Provide the policy when an employee first begins their job
  • Update the procedures whenever changes occur
  • Provide the written policy annually
  • Write the policy in terms and languages appropriate for comprehension from all employees
  • Make the Hepatitis B vaccine, as well as any appropriate medication associated with the disease, available to all employees. Include an option for any employee to opt out of this offer
  • A free post-exposure evaluation must be offered to employees
  • Perform a hazard assessment survey for the jobs where a bloodborne pathogen exposure may exist. Any PPE that is required as a result of this study must be made available to the employees. PPE must be usable and accessible to all employees. Make sure the equipment can be safely cleaned, or disposed of, and are replaced immediately when found to be unusable. Provide clear direction on how to safely dispose of any contaminated equipment and create a procedure to ensure the PPE has been properly removed from the site
  • Include an exposure control plan
  • Provide a specific training program
  • Develop an acceptance and declination form for Hepatitis B vaccinations and keep a copy on file.

If this seems like an overwhelming task to implement, there are a few free programs out there that offer training and can be a big assist to developing what you need.  Don’t delay, add this to your safety plan now!

Remember: A Safe Wash Protects People and Profits!