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OSHA Proposes Changes to its On-Site Consultation Program

OSHA LogoThis popular program, in OSHA’s own words, “provides well-trained professional safety and health personnel, at no cost and upon request of an employer, to conduct worksite visits to identify occupational hazards and provide advice on compliance with OSHA regulations and standards.”  Consultation services are provided through cooperative agreements between the states and OSHA, with federal funding.

One of the benefits of the On-site Consultation program is that employers who willingly participate in the program may be eligible for deferrals from OSHA programmed inspections, such as those conducted per OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program.

In this proposed rule, OSHA is proposing to limit to only one year the period of time that employers may benefit from the programmed inspection deferral. —  The proposal also provides for a further exception from the programmed inspection exemption for “other critical inspections” the Assistant Secretary of OSHA determines are necessary.  The proposal does not clearly define what is meant by “critical inspections,” but notes that the exception would be applied rarely.

Employers are encouraged to submit comments on this proposed rule, particularly those employers that may have benefited from the program.  In particular, OSHA is seeking comments on the extent to which these changes would affect the willingness of employers to participate in the On-site Consultation program.  Comments are due by November 2, 2010.

Would you be less willing to request an onsite consulting visit from OSHA if this proposal comes to fruition? Or do you consider OSHA to be a valuable resource and would always welcome their assistance?

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