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When OSHA Comes to Visit

(September 2014) posted on Tue Oct 07, 2014

How to handle a surprise inspection by OSHA, and why being prepared is your best line of defense.

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By Marcia Y. Kinter and Frederick Hartwig, SGIA

Unfortunately, not every visitor who walks through the front door of your shop will be there to spend money on a print order. In fact, one visitor may cost you thousands of dollars if you aren’t prepared. When a compliance officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows up at your shop, it can only mean your shop is about to be inspected. And that, in turn, means it will not be a normal day.

The visit
Let’s look at what happened to a printer we’ll call My Print Shop, located in Anywhere USA. A young man walked into the reception area, showed his credentials to the receptionist, and announced that he was a compliance officer from OSHA and needed to inspect the facility. The receptionist immediately contacted Jim Smith, vice-president of operations, who met the visitor politely and tried to mask his growing alarm.

The OSHA inspector told Jim that his visit was a programmed inspection that had been prompted as a result of the printing industry being listed in OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) for the prevention of amputations. Jim thought about a disgruntled worker from his finishing department who had recently left, wondered if the visit might be connected, and fought a brief impulse not to cooperate with the inspection.

The visit began with a short discussion of the inspection process and its scope, which would include a tour of the facility with a focus on production operations. The inspector mentioned that in addition to seeing the shop’s safety records, he would also need to inspect the presses and some finishing equipment, such as guillotine cutters, because they were specific targets of the NEP program. The tour began, and as the inspector took pictures of the equipment and facility, Jim began to wonder if his records were current. He realized that over the years, his company had neglected too much and was far from being compliant with all of its written safety programs.


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