What OSHA inspectors are looking for during recycling facility visits
- According to a webinar hosted by John Schumacher, senior vice president of insurance agency Assurance, many common citations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors can be prevented with proper training, record-keeping and preparation, as reported by Resource Recycling.
- Schumacher said that written documentation of safety programs and clear policies on personal protective equipment are key. He noted that violations around respiratory protection, lockout/tagout procedures, noise levels and air quality — particularly dust containing heavy metals — are also common.
- While companies have the right to refuse entry to OSHA, Schumacher said they can expect inspectors to return with a warrant and recommended taking precautionary compliance measures instead.
Some OSHA requirements may seem burdensome, but the lack of a good safety program could lead to potentially fatal injuries, expensive fines and a black mark on a company's reputation. According to Schumacher and others, it's worth spending the money to set up well-documented safety programs, consult with an industrial hygienist and buy protective equipment to keep any of those things from happening.
Yet for smaller companies, especially ones that may not see OSHA inspectors for months or years at a time, this can be easy to put off. As is often discussed at training sessions, any company that feels overwhelmed should start with the low-hanging fruit available to them. OSHA's director of enforcement recently wrote that employers could prevent many of the top 10 most commonly cited violations through simple changes.
Companies in the waste and recycling industry can also consult with their trade or professional associations for advice. Depending on their location they can likely attend one of many ongoing safety training sessions as well. New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a slight decrease in the industry's rate of non-fatal injuries and illnesses, though the full measure of progress won't be known until additional data comes out this year and more can always be done.
- Resource Recycling Safety, recycling and OSHA: Can they all get along?
Follow Cole Rosengren on Twitter