OSHA overview: Feedback from NATE Webinar

Hello all,

I don’t know how many of you caught  it but NATE had a webinar about OSHA inspections. It seems to be geared towards tower owners and it is narrated by Former OSHA director Ed Foulke Jr. He currently works for a law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP.  The handout is available and I have the link below with some other information that NATE put out.

Please, take some time to review the PDF file because it will show you a few things that the worker should know. It also has information in it about how the employer should work with the employees. They also talk about the OSHA inspections after an accident.

They talk about the 12 point action plan, which I will summarize here with my notes after;

1)   Adopt a ZERO tolerance policy! So the employer will adopt a strict rigid zero tolerance policy which they will publicize. This may help them get rid of some loose cannons but it will be up to the worker in the field to make sure that safety is the culture. Many companies throw out a new policy and think that’s enough. Just make a rule and the workers will follow it, well it has to be a culture. Rules are usually made by companies that are trying to protect themselves from this legal system which want to lay blame quickly and move on. In my experience the legal system, (unfortunately), is more worried about money than justice or improving the system.

2)   Update and review employee backgrounds. They will also look at pre-employment records.  Conduct background investigation on all job applicants. I think most companies look at new hires before they make an offer in today’s world.

3)   Release personnel records from previous employers. If you read this they are going to take the background check to a new level. They state here that they will start looking extensively into your background, which may include a personnel record, education, certifications, professional organizations, credit reports, and criminal convictions. So, I don’t know how your credit report plays into this but be ready for an extensive background check!

4)   Update personnel policies and employee handbooks.  I am OK with this if they tell the employee. I worked at places where they would update the employee handbook and not let the employees know of the changes. So you would break a policy that you didn’t know existed.

5)   Review temp employees for violence. I am lost on this one, are temps starting a lot of fights at work? No opinion from me on this one.

6)   Conduct periodic security audits and risk assessments of each facility. Listen, if you’re doing tower work this should be a daily activity at the tower site. It would probably be a good idea to look around the shop for hazards periodically as well.

7)   Prepare a comprehensive crisis management plan for each facility. You should have a safety and rescue plan for every tower you go to. It should be part of the tailgate meeting. It would be nice to have a list of all the local emergency agencies, but what you really need is to be ready to dial 911 and have the directions to the hospital that is nearest to the tower site. If you rely on your GPS, make sure that it is up to date. I was at a cabin and a friend of mine fell and the GPS took me to a hospital that was closed. For real, the hospital was shut down and the other hospital was 20 minutes away!

8)   Train management officials for crisis incidents and counseling situations. This is a good idea, but with most small companies it will probably be the owner or supervisor or an HR person. In a larger company it will probably be the safety group.

9)   Instruct all managers and supervisors to identify and deal with early warning signs and potential safety problems associate with workplace violence. Should they already be doing this?

10)   Identify and publicize employee assistance programs. This should be done already but it’s good to remind everybody.

11)   Institute policies to investigate all harassment complaints. Again, should be doing this already.

12)   Review and publicize company procedures and management officials responsible for complaints. This is something that every company should do but chances are you will go to your supervisor first unless you are complaining about your supervisor, then it’s good to know who you should talk to.

 Another page you should take the time to look at is page 15 on the PDF because it goes into who is allowed to inspect a workplace.  A non-union workplace is allowed to have a union representative represent them to act as a personal representative. Even a lawyer could inspect the work area. You may have a certified bargaining agent, an authorized employee, or a safety committee assigned employee work with OSHA.  This may help the employees get fair representation when dealing with bad workplace conditions. It’s something to think about.

This article also goes over the blacklisting of employers, OSHA checklists, and so much more. It is a lot to take in but I think it may be worth saving this document as a reference.

 Links about webinar and Ed Foulke Jr.







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