OSHA Withdraws Proposed Changes to Its On-site Consultation Program

Each year, thousands of small businesses take advantage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s On-Site Consultation Program. This voluntary program offers small businesses free confidential advice to identify workplace hazards and to put in place effective safety and health management systems.

Following a safety inspection of the work site, a safety consultant works with the employer to abate any identified safety hazards in a timely manner.  Many small businesses utilize this popular program to ensure a safe workplace.  This is why the Office of Advocacy and other small business representatives were alarmed when OSHA published a draft rule proposing a change in the criteria surrounding enforcement inspections of participants in the On-site Consultation program.

You see, one of the hallmarks of the On-site Consultation program is the “wall of separation” between the on-site consultant and OSHA enforcement.  Unless an imminent threat to employee health or safety exists, the consultant does not inform OSHA with the results of the safety inspection.  In discussing the proposed changes to the On-site Consultation program at Advocacy’s regular small business labor safety roundtable and elsewhere, small business representatives expressed concern that small businesses would be deterred from participating in the On-site Consultation program if they thought they were going to be turned over to OSHA enforcement.  Accordingly, Advocacy filed public comments on OSHA’s proposed rule questioning the need for the change and urging OSHA to maintain the wall of separation between consultation and enforcement.  As a result of Advocacy’s comments and other stakeholder input, OSHA has now formally withdrawn the proposed rule and will not go forward

We were pleased to see that OSHA decided to keep the integrity of this important program for America’s small businesses.

— Assistant Chief Counsel Bruce Lundegren

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