Convincing workers to bring issues to you - not regulators
Consider these two potential safety scenarios:
In the first, a worker files a safety complaint with your local OSHA office. It prompts an inspection, resulting in a sizable fine and negative press for your company.
In a second scenario, a worker brings that same complaint to you or another safety leader. You and your safety team eliminate the hazard and make the workplace safer.
In both cases, the hazard is corrected. The second situation is obviously preferable for safety pros, but not every company takes the right steps after it receives complaints from workers.
Which industries complain to OSHA most?
Here are the five industries that sent the most complaints to OSHA in fiscal years 2009 and 2010:
1. Roofing, siding and sheet metal work (904 complaints)
2. United States Postal Service (466)
3. General contractors, nonresidential buildings (414)
4. Special trade contractors (273), and
5. General contractors, residential buildings (252).
Complaints that led to inspections
In 2010, 21 % of OSHA inspections were initiated because of complaints.
OSHA says it's more likely to visit a facility after receiving a complaint based on several conditions, including:
• an employer failing to respond to an OSHA inquiry after an incident
• a fatality covered by an emphasis program, and
• a facility with a history of poor safety compliance.
Keep complaints in-house
Workers should feel comfortable coming to you with safety issues. A few things to keep in mind:
• Have an open-door policy. Let workers know you're ready to hear complaints as soon as they see them.
• Let them be anonymous. Give workers a form to bring up issues without using their names, and
• Follow-up with results. Make sure you tell workers how you addressed their concerns, even if you decide not to act.
Tue, October 4, 2011
by Kim Bowman