Legal Aspects of Safety and Health
You receive a follow-up call from the area director saying the employee filing the original non-formal complaint has provided additional information about the alleged health situation and submitted a formal complaint using the OSHA-7 form, making the complaint a formal complaint. A few days later, an OSHA compliance officer shows up at your facility to perform a comprehensive inspection. The compliance officer presents the proper credentials, and you verify that the compliance officer is employed by OSHA and assigned to the local office.
During the opening conference, the compliance officer provides you with the formal complaint, alleging that employees are exposed to hazardous concentrations of metal fumes in welding areas of the plant, that you have not performed any air sampling to determine exposure levels, that adequate ventilation is not present in welding areas, and that adequate respiratory protection has not been provided to welders. As a part of the inspection, the compliance officer requests the following documents:
- Hazard Communication Program, including training records;
- any sampling data that you have;
- Respiratory Protection Program, including medical clearance letters and training records;
- written hazard assessment for personal protective equipment (PPE) used at the facility;
- Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for the metals you use in the production process and any welding rods/wire used in the welding area; and
- any other written programs you have that are required by an OSHA regulation.
The compliance officer takes a walk-through tour of the facility, spending extra time in the welding areas. During the walk-through, the compliance officer points out several issues believed to be apparent violations. The issues are as follows:
- Heavy haze is present in the welding area.
- Individuals wearing half-mask air-purifying respirators have full beards.
- Employees are using chemicals that could be injurious to the eyes, and no emergency eyewash is present.
- Eyewash is present in another area of the plant that is covered in dust, and there is no indication of recent operation or inspection.
- Employees are using chemicals that could be absorbed through the skin and are not using any gloves.
- Employees are performing maintenance inside a press with no lock-out/tag-out applied.
- No written lock-out/tag-out program is available at the time of the inspection.
- Welding operation is performed near flammable materials, and no fire watch present.
- There is no record of training for fork truck drivers.
- Extension cords are stretched across walkways.
- Three containers are present in the plant with no label present on any of the containers.
- An employee could not find a SDS for the chemical he or she was using.
The compliance officer asks for a private conference room and a list of non-managerial employees. He tells you that he intends to interview four non-managerial employees before leaving for the day. He also states that he will return the next day to collect some air samples at the facility.
You are worried about the number of citations and penalties that you may face. Provide a document summarizing the steps you would take as soon as the compliance officer leaves, and the steps you believe you could have taken during the walk-through that may have resulted in a quick-fix penalty reduction.
Your document must be at least three pages in length, not counting the title or reference pages. You must also include at least one reference using appropriate APA style.