Liability Insurance Contributing Columnist


Safety Never Takes a Vacation

Jen Pino-Gallagher
Director of Food & Agribusiness Practice
M3 Insurance

September 9, 2022


I saw this phrase recently – “safety never takes a vacation”.
At one point in time, the concept of “never take a vacation” was true for both the cheese makers and their dairy farmer suppliers, who were known for working around the clock – except, maybe, Sunday.

Thankfully, times have changed and work-life balance means that cheese makers and dairy processing workers are encouraged to relax, recharge their batteries, and rest.

The concept of safety never taking a break, however, is true. Safety is a 24/7 job and is the responsibility of every single worker.

OSHA Local Emphasis Program puts spotlight on workplace
safety in food processing

The topic of workplace safety in food processing has gained more attention this year, in part due to OSHA Local Emphasis Program focusing on the food manufacturing industry.

This Local Emphasis Program (LEP) covers all Wisconsin establishments in the following North American Industry
Classification System (NAICS) codes: 3114xx, 3115xx, 3116xx. But Wisconsin is just the first market. The LEP will likely expand to other Midwestern states.

Dairy processors better prepare for the LEP to come to their states starting in late 2022. Included on the list for the expanded scope: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.

Health and Safety Working Group answers key workplace safety questions
The safety topic is catching the attention of trade associations as well. Recently, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) launched their Inaugural Health and Safety Working Group comprised of association members who want to further the safety message.

At their inaugural event, industry safety experts shared their best practices for employee engagement, training, and health and safety management.

“The US labor shortage, ongoing pandemic, and new OSHA initiatives have many dairy processors reviewing their safety protocols and investing in workplace safety initiatives. The industry is eager to share their experiences and best practices, and to learn from regulators, and WCMA is responding to that desire with the creation of the Health & Safety Group,” said Rebekah Sweeney, senior director, programs & policy for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

“WCMA’s Health & Safety Group will provide educational and networking opportunities in each quarterly meeting, on a broad array of safety topics determined by our members. In the immediate future, we’ll tackle the OSHA Local Emphasis Program for food manufacturers, protocols for combustible dust, and offer industry perspectives on inspections and incidents. Our primary goal is one that is shared by all dairy processors, and that is to ensure the safety of every person who works in this industry.”

M3’s Paul Klein, senior risk manager, joined health and safety industry experts from Schreiber Foods, Emmi Roth and BelGioioso Cheese to discuss questions WCMA members submitted about workplace safety in the food processing industry, and, specifically, best practices regarding the LEP.

Key questions: answered.
What can we expect from an OSHA inspection?
During an OSHA inspection, the compliance officer will arrive onsite and identify themselves and why they are onsite. Employers should be prepared to provide the following:
• Review of the previous 3-5 years of OSHA 300 logs
• Review of the operation or area where the injury occurred or complaint was filed
• Review of your policy for the specific incident of concern (e.g. LOTO, machine guarding, Hazard Communication, etc.). What expectations have you established?
• Review of your training records and details of the training provided. How have you educated and informed your employees of the risks/hazards?
• They will want to understand how you are auditing your programs and policies. In other words how do you monitor effectiveness of what you have put on paper
• And lastly, what do you do when you identify deficiencies. How do you correct hazards?

What advice can you share, in the event OSHA determines a company is in violation of standards?
Don’t panic. Review in detail the specific violation. You don’t have to immediately get legal help. Contact your insurance broker or risk control professional to strategize.

• Ensure you have corrected or resolved what was determined by OSHA.
• If you believe you have corrected the hazard adequately or disagree with the terms of the citation/violations documented, request an informal conference to negotiate the citation based on your corrective actions. This may include negotiating the dollars associated with the citation and/or the classification of the citation (e.g. serious vs. repeated). Remember, demonstrating good faith efforts and your due diligence as an employer greatly improves the success of your negotiations.
• Finally and very importantly, approach OSHA with good “bed-side manner” so to speak. Positive dialogue also increases your likelihood for a successful outcome. Show you care about your employees and their safety, demonstrate that with your actions taken to correct hazards, and humbly work with them to promote a mutually beneficial agreement.

Other Resources
— OSHA Contact: David Schott, Assistant Area Director,
— OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs
—OSHA Alliance Program Developed Products (including Spanish resources)
—WisCon’s Free, Confidential Consultations, On-Site Trainings, and Weekly Webinars

Jen Pino-Gallagher is director of the food and agribusiness practice at M3 Insurance. M3 Insurance offers insight, advice and strategies to help clients manage risk, purchase insurance and provide employee benefits. The views expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Reporter. You can contact the columnist by calling (800) 272-2443, or by visiting


Jen Pino-Gallagher

Jen Pino-Gallagher is a Director of Food & Agribusiness Practice at M3 Insurance. M3 Insurance offers insight, advice and strategies to help clients manage risk, purchase insurance and provide employee benefits.
For more information, call (800) 272-2443 , visit

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