Liability Insurance Contributing Columnist

 


What To Do If OSHA Comes Knocking

Jen Pino-Gallagher
Director of Food & Agribusiness Practice
M3 Insurance
jen.pinogallagher@m3ins.com

July 5, 2024


 

What do safety and the dairy industry have in common? June! June dairy month was created in 1937 to celebrate the dairy industry and as a creative way to encourage more milk drinking at a time when the spring flush resulted in a surplus.

Nearly 60 years after the creation of Dairy Month, June began sharing its 30 days with another nationally recognized month — National Safety Month. Created in 1996 by the National Safety Council, National Safety Month is intended to raise awareness of the daily need for safety within all industries.

Awareness and the focus on workplace safety has increased throughout the food processing sector partly due to OSHA’s Local Emphasis Program for food processors, implemented in late 2022. Wisconsin was the first state in the Midwest to be put under the OSHA microscope followed this past year by Illinois and Ohio. Minnesota and Michigan also fall within OSHA’s region V, all of which are subject to the LEP.

The LEP for food processors covers establishments in the following North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes: 3114xx, (fruit and vegetable preserving) 3115xx, (dairy product manufacturing) 3116xx (animal slaughtering and processing)

Given OSHA’s focus on the food processing and dairy industry — if your plant is within the scope of the LEP the adage of “not if but when” may hold true for an OSHA visit.

How should your team respond if OSHA arrives at your doorstep? According to Michael Pate, Risk Manager at M3 Insurance, the following is a guide that dairy processors can consider should OSHA come knocking.

The main components of an OSHA inspector’s visit include the
• Opening Conference
• Walk-Around Inspection
• and Closing Conference.

The moment the inspector arrives, dairy processing personnel can proactively set the tone for the visit by greeting the inspector and cordially asking for the compliance officer’s credentials. Once you’ve determined why the inspector is visiting, show them to a conference room. Do not let them wonder the building. Immediately contact the plant’s safety director and other relevant personnel, including the operation’s insurance broker.

Opening Conference
At this time, the Compliance Officer will provide you with their purpose and scope for the inspection. Be cordial. However, do not volunteer information.

OSHA may ask to see training records, your safety program, and other documented safety related activities. Take concise and accurate notes during this discussion.

The Walk-Around Inspection
The walk-around inspection’s purpose is to accomplish what the Compliance Officer stated during the opening conference. Do not volunteer to expand the scope of the inspection or any additional information. Escort the Compliance Officer to the area they want to see via the best route. Throughout the inspection, if the Compliance Officer takes photos or measurements, take photos and measurements from the same angle at the same time.

If there are undisputed violations pointed out, correct them immediately if reasonably possible. This shows good faith, but do not admit any fault in taking corrective actions. Do not conduct demonstrations or operate any equipment at the request of the Compliance Officer. Do take notes about specific comments made by the Compliance Officer or other personnel interviewed, and discussions about potential violations.

The Closing Conference
At the conclusion of the walk-around inspection, the Compliance Officer will hold a closing conference.

At this time, they should inform you of all alleged violations. They should describe the alleged violation and which part of the OSHA CFR 1910 standards they pertain to.

This is your chance to correct any misunderstanding before the citations are issued. Ask for a copy of the Compliance Officers notes.
While not required, the OSHA inspector may honor this request.

A best practice for every dairy processor is to consult with their property and casualty insurance broker and outside safety consultant, if one is under contract, prior to an OSHA visit. Part of the broker’s role is to help a plant operate safely, understand compliance requirements and be well prepared to deal with a surprise visit from OSHA.

Dairy month may be once a year — but safety is a year-round endeavor. JPG
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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 www.m3ins.com.

 

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 ,jen.pinogallagher@m3ins.com visit www.m3ins.com.


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