Occupational Safety and Health On-Site Consultations for Private Sector Employers
The Occupational Safety and Health On-Site Consultation program provides free On-Site Safety and Health Consultation services to private sector employers. Trained staff identify safety and health violations of the OSHA Standards and work with employers to improve their internal occupational safety and health management systems. Through this program, employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational safety and health management systems, arrange safety and health training, and even qualify for a safety recognition award.
The service is delivered by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health, using well-trained safety and health professionals. Consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available.
Primarily targeted for smaller businesses (less than 250 employees), this safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. In addition, no citations are issued or penalties proposed.
Under the Small Business Focus (SBF) initiative, companies with 50 or fewer employees will receive a special priority in scheduling consultations.
Your name, your firm's name, and any information you provide about your workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, is kept confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA enforcement staff. Your only obligation will be to commit to correcting serious job safety and health hazards—a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the visit and carry out in a timely manner.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development On-Site Consultation Program is designed to help employers control costs by reducing accidents and illnesses, by helping to identify workplace hazards, by assisting with safety and health program development, and by offering safety and health training. This cooperative agreement program is 90% funded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and 10% by the state of New Jersey.
Step 1: Opening Conference
When the consultant arrives at your worksite for the scheduled visit, he or she will first meet with you in an opening conference to briefly review the consultant's role and the obligations you incur as an employer.
Employee participation is required in all site visits. At unionized sites, an employee representative must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the opening and closing conferences and to accompany the consultant and employer representative during the walkthrough.
Step 2: Walk-Through
Together, you and the consultant will examine conditions in your workplace. Maximum employee participation in the walk-through is encouraged. Better informed and more alert employees can more easily work with you to identify and correct potential injury and illness hazards in your workplace. Talking with employees during the walk-through helps the consultant identify and judge the nature and extent of specific hazards.
The consultant will study your entire workplace or the specific operations you designate and discuss the applicable OSHA standards. Consultants will also point out other safety or health risks which might not be cited under OSHA standards, but which nevertheless may pose safety or health risks to your employees. They may suggest and even provide other measures such as self-inspection and safety and health training you and your employees can apply to prevent future hazardous situations.
A comprehensive consultation also includes:
- Appraisal of all mechanical and environmental hazards and physical work practices
- Appraisal of the present job safety and health program or the establishment of one
- A conference with management on findings
- A written report of recommendations and agreements
- Training and assistance with implementing recommendations.
Step 3: Closing Conference
The consultant will then review detailed findings with you in a closing conference. You will learn not only what you need to improve, but what you are doing right, as well. At that time, you can discuss problems, possible solutions, and an abatement period to eliminate or control any serious hazards identified during the walk-through.
In rare instances, the consultant may find an "imminent danger" situation during the walk-through. If so, you must take immediate action to protect all employees. In certain other situations, those which would be judged a "serious violation" under OSHA criteria -- you and the consultant are required to develop and agree to a reasonable plan and schedule to eliminate or control that hazard. The consultants will offer general approaches and options to you. They may also suggest other sources for technical help.
Step 4: Abatement and Follow Through
Following the closing conference, the consultant will send you a detailed written report explaining the findings and confirming the abatement periods agreed upon. Consultants may also contact you from time to time to check your progress. You, of course, may always contact them for assistance.
You must agree to post the "List of Hazards" in a prominent place, as it was received from the consultation project for three working days or until the hazards are corrected, whichever is later.
Ultimately, OSHA does require hazard abatement so that each consultation visit achieves its objective -- effective employee protection. If you fail to eliminate or control identified serious hazards (or an imminent danger) according to the plan and within the limits agreed upon or an agreed-upon extension, the situation must be referred from consultation to an OSHA enforcement office for appropriate action. However, this has occurred only rarely in the past.
Knowledge of your workplace hazards and ways to eliminate them can only improve your own operations -- and the management of your firm. You will get professional advice and assistance on the correction of workplace hazards and benefits from on-site training and assistance provided by the consultant to you and your employees. The consultant can help you establish or strengthen an employee safety and health program, making safety and health activities routine considerations rather than crisis-oriented responses. However, the consultation service cannot guarantee you will pass an OSHA inspection.
Since consultation is a voluntary activity, you must request it. You can request a consultation using our request form, by phone at (609) 292-0404, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by letter to New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health, P.O. Box 953, Trenton, NJ 08625.
A consultant will discuss your specific needs with you and set up a visit based on the priority assigned to your request, your work schedule, and the time needed for the consultant to prepare adequately to serve you. OSHA encourages a complete review of your firm's safety and health situation; however, if you wish you may limit the visit to one or more specific problems.