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OSHA Site-Specific Inspection Plan Now In Place

osha logoThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a new national site-specific inspection plan that became effective Oct. 16, 2018, and is effective for one year. Under this directive, OSHA will develop a list of employers for each OSHA regional office to inspect. The notice specifically states that the program does not include construction sites but is silent on whether it includes agricultural sites.

There is a plan already in place to base inspections on data gathered under the old OSHA data initiative. This new program will base inspections on the injury and illness data submitted in the new Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records to OSHA program. This is the new program we have discussed for several years, where you enter your OSHA 300A data into the online database. The agency will base these inspections on the results from the 2016 data.

Criteria For ‘Making The List’

OSHA will look at three types of employers. The first criteria for making the list will be if your days away, restricted or transferred (DART) rate is high. It appears they will be comparing the DART rate for each facility to the industry average, but the basis for the comparison is not completely clear.

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The second set will be a random sample of establishments that did not enter their data into the new system. No explanation is given about how they will determine whether an establishment that did not send the data would be required to do so. They may review North American Industry Classification System codes for employers to help determine this issue.

The third set will be a “quality control” group that includes a random sample of establishments with a low DART rate. If a site has an on-site consultation “in progress,” the inspection will be deferred until the consultation process is complete.

In addition, employers who are part of the Voluntary Protection Program and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program will not be inspected. These are programs that some of the larger employers have used in the past. Gins have not historically used these programs, but it is also rare for a gin to receive a programmed inspection.

New Computer Program In Play

Each OSHA area office will be issued a new computer program that will be run for that area to select the employers for inspection. Guidance says the program will pick between five and 50 employers in an area, based on the size of the region.

It would stand to reason that a large area, such as Houston, would draw closer to 50 employers to inspect, whereas a small area, such as Lubbock, would draw a smaller number. But this is not completely clear.

In addition, it may be possible for an OSHA office to run the program more than once each year if they have inspectors who are not particularly busy.

The inspection will be a full one — not just a recordkeeping inspection. They probably will visit with the employees and go to the facility itself.

In addition, the inspection could take place at any time during the year, so the odds of it taking place during the off-season is higher than the odds of it happening while you are ginning. It is especially important to be sure everything is locked out during the off-season and any open pits or trenches are well protected while workers are repairing the ginning facility after the season is over.

Factors Influencing Inspections

These inspections should be lower priority than the inspections related to an injury or a complaint. If your local OSHA office is busy, inspections may get pushed off until much later. In addition, if you look at the sampling size, it seems likely that very few, if any, gins might get inspected.

Offsetting those numbers is the issue of the DART rate and the lack of data in the system. If your DART rate is very high or your data is not in the system, the odds of you being inspected may be raised.

We don’t really expect this to have a large impact on our industry since gins are small employers in the grand scheme of OSHA inspections. However, it is something you will want to keep in mind as a possibility during the upcoming year.

We will be watching this issue very carefully and will keep you informed as it progresses. In the meantime, be sure to let us know right away if you receive any type of visit or communication from your OSHA office.

Kelley Green, TCGA director of technical services, authored this article, which first appeared in the November 2018 issue of “The Ginnery.” Contact Green at kelley@tcga.org.