Surviving Osha Inspections

Author:Deemer, Joe

These days, printers across the nation are usually thrilled to see a potential client pulling into their parking lot Unfortunately, not every visitor who walks through the front door needs a 16-page four-color brochure or a direct-mail promotional campaign. The next visitor to your plant may leave you facing thousands of dollars in fines rather than signing a contract for your high-quality work.

Recently, Printing Industries of America's Environmental, Health, and Safety Affairs Department (EHSA) was able to help Wisconsinbased Terry Print Solutions after a surprise inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

"A young lady just came to our front door and walked in - a cold call," said Tim Terry, production manager at Terry Print Solutions. "She did a quick walkthrough with the owner of our company, knowing that we weren't prepared for an inspection."

In this case, the OSHA compliance officer did not proceed with an extensive, detailed inspection right away. Her visit was not prompted by any employee complaints or record of lost work time due to injuries. Instead, it was a random, but programmed visit as a result of OSHA's National Emphasis Program (NEP) for the prevention of amputations (see sidebar).

The Initial List

"She said it was in our favor that we had zero hours of lost work time," Terry said. "She assured us that this was just a random inspection and that she would get to everyone eventually."

In the initial visit the compliance officer took a quick tour of the plant paying special attention to the guillotine cutter. Along with printing presses, guillotine cutters and three-knife trimmers are highly targeted equipment under the NEP program. After snapping a few pictures of the cutter in action, she asked owner Mark Terry if they were prepared for a thorough inspection. Mark asked if she could come back at the beginning of the next week, and the compliance officer agreed to do so. OSHA is not required to grant extra time and in most cases will not OSHA has the right to proceed with an inspection at the time of the initial visit.

"The big thing to remember is courtesy," Tim Terry advised regarding how best to react to an OSHA inspection. "Treat them with professional courtesy, and they'll do the same. They're just doing their job, and ifs good work that they do. We scrambled like crazy, because, over the years, we had fallen away from being up to snuff with all of our written programs."

Planning for Inspection

Terry took full...

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