OSHA CUSTOMERS SATISFIED WITH AGENCY HELP, PROFESSIONALISM, PARTNERSHIP

December 08, 2001

A recent Gallup survey of nearly 2,500 workers, employers and OSHA stakeholders who had direct contact with OSHA this past year found customers very satisfied or satisfied with their dealings with the agency.

"This survey clearly shows OSHA continues to strive to satisfy its customers by providing them with useful information and opportunities for involvement in inspections or in partnerships," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Our compliance officers and staff are useful resources on safety and health issues. The survey findings provide information that will help our customer focus and help us deliver on customer expectations.

The Gallup Organization survey of OSHA customers found that:

  • 94% of workers and 84% of employers involved in inspections were either very satisfied or satisfied with OSHA staff professionalism.
  • More than 95% of businesses that received free consultations were satisfied with the help they received.
  • 98% of employers in OSHA partnerships found agency staff knowledgeable about OSHA rules and regulations.

Based on customer responses, OSHA has identified several areas to work on. The survey found that workers were less likely to be satisfied with phone/fax investigations, where OSHA contacts employers by phone to report complaints and receives a faxed response. If the response is satisfactory, the agency takes no further action. Instead, workers wptld prefer more on-site inspections, more follow-up visits and a swifter response. Both employers and workers wanted inspectors to be more familiar with their specific industries. Small businesses wanted a speedier response to their request for consultations and would prefer annual consultations. Other requests from those surveyed included calls for greater involvement of stakeholders, more partnership and more information, education and training.

"While this survey finds OSHA is doing many things right, we have many more challenges and opportunities ahead of us to improve our overall customer satisfaction," Henshaw said.

Survey results are drawn from nearly 2,500 responses from employers, workers and other OSHA stakeholders in late 2000 and early this year. A copy of the complete results of the survey is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/about.html


OSHA CITES COMPANY AFTER EMPLOYEE FALLS OUT OF TRUCK AND DIES

A Lake City, Fla., company's failure to provide protection from fall hazards which contributed to the death of an employee has resulted in alleged willful and serious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $77,000.

The fatal accident occurred on Aug. 7 as an employee of Anderson Columbia Co., Inc., was placing traffic-warning signs along U.S. Highway 41 North, near White Springs, where the company was installing pipelines. After placing a sign, the employee returned to the truck bed and sat down near the remaining signs while the driver slowly drove to the next location. As he approached the final location, the driver looked into his rear-view mirror and saw his co-worker lying on the roadside.

The probable cause of the accident, based on OSHA's investigation, was that the worker fell from the truck bed as he attempted to reach for a sign caught by a wind gust. The worker died four days later from massive head injuries.

"To prevent this type of needless tragedy, OSHA standards require employers to provide employees with adequate seats and seat belts when they are transported in, or work from, vehicles," said James D. Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director. "And, when material is transported in the same space, in this case the back of a pick-up truck, it must be prevented from moving."

OSHA cited Anderson Columbia for one alleged willful violation with a $70,000 proposed penalty for failing to provide an adequate seat and seat belt for an employee working from the back of a truck.

The company's written policy requires employees to ride on seats provided and use seat belts and prohibits them from riding in the back of company pickup trucks. "But company officials failed to enforce the rules," said Borders.

Anderson Columbia was also cited for an alleged serious violation with a proposed $7,000 penalty for failing to properly secure materials being transported in the same compartment with employees.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.

The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Board.


OSHA SIGNS SMALL BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

OSHA entered into a partnership with the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) and the Department of Labor's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) to help small businesses improve their safety and health performance.

The partnership establishes a comprehensive effort to improve the safety and health performance of small businesses that receive outreach and training services. The agreement also aims to increase small business participation in OSHA technical assistance and cooperative programs.

"This partnership sets in motion a new working relationship that addresses safety and health issues unique to our nation's small businesses," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Together, we can make a real difference by delivering the training and outreach small businesses need to improve their safety and health programs."

The partners will identify interested small businesses that wish to learn more about safety and health, need assistance with program development, or wish to be recognized through OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) or the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) which is designed for small businesses that undergo free comprehensive safety and health consultation.

"This partnership unites the nationwide management and technical assistance infrastructure of America's Small Business Development Center Network with the expertise and capabilities of OSHA and DOL's Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP)," said ASBDC President Donald Wilson. "ASBDC is confident, that working cooperatively, this partnership can help address the compliance assistance needs of small business owners, improve awareness of OSHA regulations in the small business community and enhance worker safety and health."

"This agreement directly supports the Department's commitment of shifting the emphasis of regulatory programs from after-the-fact enforcement to compliance assistance and prevention, and nurtures our on-going efforts to build results-oriented partnerships with the small business community," said OSBP Director June Robinson.

The partnership is aimed at accomplishing the following objectives:

  • Awareness: Develop an efficient and effective means for communicating occupational safety and health information and resource options to the small business community.
  • Referrals and Assistance: Facilitate the use of and participation in OSHA's cooperative programs.
  • Training: Identify and target interested small businesses for safety and health training on OSHA requirements and the elements of effective safety and health management systems.
  • Improved Performance: Demonstrate a positive impact on worker safety and health for businesses participating in activities provided through the partnership.

The initial phase of the partnership will focus on providing information and training regarding OSHA's new recordkeeping standard. A pilot training program for recordkeeping will be developed and then offered at SBDC's in selected key states.

The agreement is available on OSHA's web site at http://www.osha-slc.gov/fso/partnershipagreements/asbdcoshaosbpagreement.html


CHOCOLATE PLANT CITED BY OSHA FOLLOWING AMPUTATION

A Fulton, N.Y., candy company's failure to provide adequate machine guarding is among 32 alleged violations cited by OSHA following the agency's inspection of a June 12 accident in which a worker's arm was amputated in a machine.

OSHA cited Nestle Confections and Snacks and proposed penalties of $62,450 for 27 alleged serious violations, two alleged repeat violations and three alleged other-than-serious violations of standards.

Among the alleged serious violations for which the employer was cited was failure to provide adequate machine guarding for a variety of equipment, including rotating horizontal shafts, belts and pulleys. The serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $44,950, according to OSHA area director Diane Brayden.

The plant was also cited for failing to label chemical containers with the identity of their contents and failing to post warning notices on hazardous confined spaces. Both were alleged repeat violations with a total proposed penalty of $17,500. The employer was previously cited for similar conditions at the plant in March, 2000.

OSHA also issued citations for failing to determine safe floor loads on an upper floor, failing to maintain fire alarms, and unsafe stacking of pallets and other materials. The three alleged violations were classified as other-than-serious.

A serious violation is defined as a condition which exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse area office. Nestle Confections and Snacks has until Dec. 18 to contest the citations.