Jill James, Chief Safety Officer Vivid Learning System
Safety Consultant with Sheldon Primus
Jill James, Chief Safety Officer Vivid Learning System
September 28, 2020
In this week's episode, Sheldon speaks with Jill James, the Chief Safety Officer of Vivid Learning Systems and the host of The Accidental Safety Pro podcast. This is episode 1 of 2 where they speak about Jill's journey as a safety professional and her time with the Minnesota OSHA state program. They also give tips for active consultants for inspections, audits, informal conferences, and settlement agreements. Jill gives tips to the safety consultant and conforts the active OSHA inspector during the trying COVID-19 times. Don't miss this episode.
Keywords for this episode
Jill James, The Accidental Safety Pro, Safety FM, EHS, Minnesota, Minnesota OSHA, OSHA, COVID-19, Safety, Health, Safety and Health, Sheldon, Primus, Sheldon Primus, Safety Consultant, Consultant, Empathy, Compliance, Safety Culture, Mentoring, Consultation, Mindfulness, Meditation, Entrepreneur, Coaching, Business Coaching, Negotiation, US, Florida, Just Culture, HOP, BBS, Safety Officer, OSHA citation, OSHA standards, Job, Construction, Hazard, Analysis, Hazard Control, Incident Investigation, Incident Causation, Head Trauma, Injuries, Illness, Reiki, Healing

[00:00:00] spk_0: This is Sheldon Primus, the host of the safety consultant podcast. During this time, we've all been tightening our belts because of Cove in 19. I have been as well. Recently. I found cost effective alternative to some of the services and programs that I was using, such as email, marketing, hosting services and even one of my favorites. Teachable Visit www.SheldonPrimus.com/resources is for special offers to help you reduce your business overhead. If you're hosting a podcast or one of host a podcast, then visit www.SheldonPrimus.com/hosting for a knockout deal Don't give up on your dream. Get smarter on the back end of your business. This episode is powered by Safety FM. 

Welcome to the safety consultant Podcast. I am your host, Sheldon Primers on this is the episode or Excuse me, This is the podcast that I teach you. How Thio do the business of being a safety consultant. So this is a very special episode. In this episode, I talked to a follow a fellow safety FM podcaster, and she is Jill James. So some of you may know her as the chief safety officer of Vivid Learning System, HSI Company and Vivid Learning System and Jill Change together. I guess they are of the accidental safety pro. She is the host of that podcast, and I had a great time with her. We truly talked about just about everything. He was awesome. You're gonna break this into two episodes. First episode is going to be focused on OSHA. Because if you didn't know, she was ex, uh, investigator for, well, not the only one but a senior safety investigator for the state of Minnesota for their OSHA plan. And we talked a little bit about if you are going to be a consultant and part of your, uh, services and be mock OSHA audits and a few other things. Then what do you need to do? What do you need to look for? She talked to me a little bit about her mentoring and what that meant to her, Uh, meaning people that meant to her in the business. And then also why she left OSHA. And she talked about how she got, uh, just pretty much it was time for her to go. She felt it. And that's the first half of our conversation and a few other things through in there. Later on, we talked about what she does, uh, with her, Ricky. And that is, uh, healing touches. Might be the way to think of it. Laying on of hands eso We talked about that in the second episode, which is going to come out on Thursday of this week. So you're gonna have Jill James, uh, talking about ocean and everything else on Monday. This episode now and then on Thursday, we're gonna go ahead, and we're going to talk a little bit about the other side of her life in some of the grounding things that she does. And then I do is well, and she's gonna lead us into a meditation. So I look forward to that one. So without any further do we're gonna go straight into the episode without any sponsor tag, and they will not be a tip of the week this week. Just gonna be me and Jill. Alright, So enjoy. You like, you just

[00:03:57] spk_1: want me to go for it. It's

[00:04:01] spk_0: gonna be fun. I get already. Go

[00:04:04] spk_1: for it, Jill. Well, Sheldon, my name is Jill. James E. I am a safety professional. I have been in this field for I think is 24 years. I don't think I've hit the quarter century mark yet. And I work for a company called HSI. I am the chief safety officer. There have been with the company for 60 years. And before that, Well, gosh, if you want to know before that, maybe you should ask me more questions. Oh, that sounds more fun than we. Just rattling off

[00:04:40] spk_0: history. I'm doing the math in my head here. I started safety in 94 I think we're started safety in the same time.

[00:04:50] spk_1: Yeah, we did, then. Yeah, that is when I finish my graduate degree.

[00:04:55] spk_0: Oh, man, I was just once you said 24 years, I was like, Hold on, E. Think that's me too.

[00:05:02] spk_1: Sometimes I have to go find my diploma, which is in a box somewhere and year to make sure, like Okay, what year? What's that again?

[00:05:10] spk_0: Yeah, absolutely. What was your degrees?

[00:05:12] spk_1: Yes. So my undergrad is in community health, education and minor and women's studies and my master's degrees in industrial safety.

[00:05:23] spk_0: Wow. Excellent. And one of them was a U of M. Duluth

[00:05:29] spk_1: Yes, right. So my my graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota, a Duluth campus on and yeah, wasn't something I thought I would ever dio. I was finishing my undergrad degree in community health education, and I needed an internship, and I was looking at this long list of internships, and it was like, American Red Cross American heart, you know, community health kind of organizations. And it was It was really a tough job market at the time. And anyone in community health really needed a nursing degree in order to get a job because they wanted people to serve dual functions and at the very bottom of the list, it said Safety Department of Transportation. And I thought, Well, e, nobody's gonna want so boring. I need to get this degree, John. And who's gonna want this way have, like, a little tiny touch of safety as an undergrad, And I thought, Well, I'm gonna I'm gonna inquire about this. So I met with the safety director for a region in Minnesota for the D O T. And he told me just a little bit about safety, and it's like, Yeah, internship is yours. And so well, Yes. So, while I was, they probably probably couldn't find very many people. Yeah, on the

[00:06:54] spk_0: the one and only candidate. It's yours.

[00:06:56] spk_1: Yeah. And so while I did, while I was doing that internship, I really started to understand a little bit about workplace safety and what it was all about. And I was then connected to the Greater safety network with the Department of Transportation at the time. And there were all these safety directors that served all these regions, and I was taking part in their training and their meetings and learning more about it. And they kept saying, Hey, kid, because I waas Hey, kid, you know, you should get your master's degree and safety like we did. A lot of us went to the University of Minnesota and got our master's degrees. And you should do it, too, because it's a way to get a job and you will get a job and you'll be able to pay off your student loan. So you should do

[00:07:41] spk_0: that. They're checking all the boxes for a young person's find after they get out of school. Yeah,

[00:07:48] spk_1: exactly. And so I thought, Well, I like the safety stuff well enough. Based on this three month internship, I'm gonna go for it and so applied to grad school and got in. And, you know, my family kept asking me since I was the first person to go to college in our history. Kept saying, Whoa, what kind of job can you get with this degree, anyway? E don't know. I suppose I could work for, like, OSHA E. And then, um you know, I was finishing my masters degree, and I was doing an internship with the Department of Military Affairs in their environmental health and safety division at at a military installation in Minnesota. And I got a phone call from my mentor at the D O T. And he said, Hey, kid. Yes? What?

[00:08:41] spk_0: I think the hearing theme. Yeah.

[00:08:45] spk_1: Hey, kid, Ocean is hiring. You should apply. And I'm like, Okay, you know, and so I did. And, Yeah, I got a job as an investigator with OSHA and my person who would be my boss, uh, named Paul. Paul was a very, very large Italian man with the white kind of the stereotype, even with the white hair back in big glasses. And he was so kind to me. But in that interview I was was young, 24 year old sitting across the table from all these guys from OSHA and, you know, they're leaning in and they're saying now, how are you going, Thio? Flash a badge and tell owners of companies and CEOs that you're going to find them like, Do you think you could do it was their

[00:09:39] spk_0: question. Do you have the fortitude to do it?

[00:09:42] spk_1: Yeah. Do I have the fortitude to do it like, are you gonna You gonna cry? You're going to run out the door. You know what happened? Do you Do you think you can handle it? E had to kind of pull on the history that I had at the time is a 24 year old E said, Well, in my undergraduate degree, I spent many years doing safe sex education during the height of the AIDS crisis and teaching people teaching people how thio prevent sexually transmitted diseases and how to use condoms the right way. And I said, I guess if I can speak about safe sex in front of audiences, I can probably stand my ground with CEOs in companies you're hired all of those guys in that interview. I don't think anybody had ever said sexually transmitted disease or condoms in an interview before. And I guess that might have sealed the deal. And I got the job. Yeah, and I stayed with OSHA as an investigator for almost 12 years.

[00:10:44] spk_0: Almost 12 years. And this is the state plane, right? So it's a Minnesota state plane.

[00:10:49] spk_1: Yeah. Minnesota has jurisdiction over ocean on the state of Minnesota.

[00:10:54] spk_0: Does your jurisdiction go for a public and private? Yes. Okay, So kind of like Cal OSHA.

[00:11:00] spk_1: Yeah. And so the only place we couldn't go was a federal installation, like a prisoner of post office second.

[00:11:06] spk_0: Okay. Did you guys Is there any maritime in Minnesota? I guess all the lakes? Maybe I don't

[00:11:13] spk_1: dio Yes. So we did not have jurisdiction over maritime in Minnesota. And we do have the great lake, um, like superior, of course. And so that would have applied there. But my jurisdiction did not. Did not spread there? No.

[00:11:26] spk_0: Okay, because I noticed that with some state plans, they have the certain things that they say. Alright, too much. But you take over this thing, and we'll just stay with our public and private. And then, of course, the hybrid states that just, you know, they're just stealing money from OSHA, where you know it. Give me 50% of the operating costs and I'll just take care of the public sector and you take care of the private, pay me 50% and then I'll got to public. I got the So I should say that they're not stealing money, they're doing the work. But

[00:11:55] spk_1: yeah, it was, It was it was a great career. It was a great career to be able to experience and see so many places where human beings work and to feel like I was making a contribution. I had responsibilities for general industry and construction settings on, and I did my six months of training in the Minneapolis ST Paul area, the offices air in Saint Paul, and then I was sent to what they call Greater Minnesota, which means rural Minnesota to the had a 10 county responsibility along the North Dakota and Canadian borders. So two counties wide and they stuck me kind of in the middle, found a place to live, had a home office. They gave me the worst car in the fleet to use because they needed miles put on it. And there was a lot of miles to put on along the North Dakota and Canadian border. And, you know, that car left me sit two times.

[00:12:57] spk_0: No, no, that must have sucked. Was it winter to Yes, man Waas. Wow, that is much. And, uh, what was that called like when you had to call home base and say help?

[00:13:13] spk_1: Yeah. And so my my my boss Paul, I was telling you about earlier. He was in a different part of the statement. He dissented. He, um, asked one of my closest co workers to come get me like to come fetch me off the highway where I was and he was Richard. My coworker was probably a three hour one way drive to get to me. Oh, yeah. So came and got me,

[00:13:41] spk_0: man. Hopefully it wasn't like you ran out of gas or something like that. You know, the alternator went out alternated. Oh, man.

[00:13:49] spk_1: Yeah, it wasn't that. It was not some goofy thing. The alternator died and it died twice in that car.

[00:13:55] spk_0: Oh, my goodness. twice. Oh, my goodness. That means it's probably some sort of electrical. Where? There it was being drained. Eso Well, not bad. So for for the purposes of my audience, they're going to be safety consultants. They're gonna wanna just, like, pick your brain for OSHA. And before we get to that, have you ever heard a show without accidental safety? There's a show out there. Oh, you're talking about my podcast. Yes, your podcast. Oh, so from what I'm hearing your story as faras the accidental safety was coming from the college. And then truly picking, you know, something that you thought no one else would pick or you're just drawn to it. Is that Is that your accidental safety story?

[00:14:47] spk_1: Yeah, absolutely. It is. You know, and and so that's the That's the shit right of the podcast that I host is entitled The Accidental Safety Pro. And, you know, ask any safety professional everybody listening right now. And you ask them how you got into safety. It was It's very seldom. In fact, I've spoken with one person so far who knew they wanted to be a safety professional when they were a little kid. People ask you. What do you want to be when you grow up? How many of us actually said a safety professional like zero, With the exception of one woman whose mother teaches at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in the safety program. And thus she actually knew about the profession. Like growing up as a kid. She knew it. Waas Yeah, eso She did want to grow up to be a safety professional, but she is the only person I know.

[00:15:39] spk_0: She must have been really tough around the playground. Billy, don't do that. You know

[00:15:44] spk_1: that Z growing up somehow somehow somehow that was somehow safety was Well, I know how safety was woven into my DNA but woven into my life. So it makes sense that that I chose this profession.

[00:15:57] spk_0: Uh, we have the liberty to find out how safety was woven into your life.

[00:16:01] spk_1: Yeah, sure. So it za personal story, I when I grew up in a house with a parent who had a traumatic brain injury and so as a as a young person. My dad, this is prior to me being born in prior to my parents being married. My dad was in a farm accident. We know that lots of people are in farm accidents, right? And so he took a flywheel to the forehead. Wow. Right. And he lived by the grace of the talent at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and his his frontal bone of his head was smashed in on and it couldn't right. And so this all happens before I'm born. And it, um he was allergic to any kind of substitutes that they would use for the bone. And it was shattered so they couldn't put the pieces back together like a puzzle and whatever materials they had at the time to try Thio replace the frontal bone he was allergic to. And so he had this literal hole in the front of his head. If you could imagine that was just covered by skin. Wow. You could see his pulse as a kid. We could see his pulse Beating through this little like it was like a little It was like a drum. So you knew when he was mad at you? Yeah, kind of like a drum. Right? And so I grew up in a house where we were extremely cautious about anything that could hit our dad's head. So you know, when you're a kid and you have maybe the cereal boxes all kind of smushed in tow, some cabinet above the refrigerator, whatever. And you're gonna just like, shut it and make sure, you know, just get it shut. It might pop open on the next person. You did not do that in my house because it could hit my dad in the head. You loaded the dishwasher. So all the knives and forks and everything we're facing down in case, you know, if you had the dishwasher open and he fell or there was a trip or something, that he wouldn't fall into any impalement hazards. So I grew up understanding. I didn't have the word for what an impalement hazard, waas. But but I think I think that's kind of what got my head, so to speak. Unintended, I guess, um, to be thinking about safety as a little kid because it was literally part of my existence. Like, don't hurt Dad's Don't hurt. Like we're on high hazard alert looking through your house garage, everything you dio to make sure he doesn't get hit.

[00:18:46] spk_0: Wow. Now that is a story

[00:18:49] spk_1: Jill. Wow. Accidental safety throw, right.

[00:18:53] spk_0: He had no kidding. Well, so that that whole thing I could tell how that shape your life and then eventually this is working its way to his daughter in OSHA. Eso Now you're probably, uh, getting in their young twenties thes older guys. I would've soon because at that time period in the early nineties, you might might have been one of the few that would have been a co show. If you guys eyes that a term you guys like or is it a derogatory term co show?

[00:19:28] spk_1: Yeah. You know, that was a term that was used by the federal investigators. More e co shows. It was It was I don't know. We didn't use it very much. It was more of investigator. Okay. Uh, but co show is the acronym that stands for compliance. Health. And, uh, yeah, e eso. You're right. I had my co workers at the time, Were almost all male. There were a couple of women who were investigators. Not many, Which is kind of crazy to think in the nineties. Right? There were There were some, but there weren't many. My mentors. We're all men three guys who showed me the ropes, so to speak. And they were all also former military, which is also very common for people in the safety and health profession. Um, and, you know, at that time, so my mentors Richard, Dale and Bob rest in peace. They're all deceased. No, Um, they were out of the Army Navy. Oh, and Paul to he was from the Army, Navy and Air Force. Richard was from the Air Force. And, you know, when Minnesota's OSHA program got started, it was started in 1973. And, you know, OSHA was passed 1970 the act and in 73 Minnesota said, we're gonna you know, we're going to do it our own way. And the governor at the time in my state, um, was looking for people to be investigators. And so my my coworker and mentor Dale, formerly of the Navy. I was working for the United Auto Workers at the time as a as a union Stewart and he was doing things with safety. And so the governor tapped him and said, Hey, we've got this new things. New unit in the state of Minnesota. Will you come be an investigator s Oh, that's how many of them were chosen. And so they all had their own unique story, like that s So they came with this deep, deep knowledge and, you know, took me under their wing and, uh, you know, taught me I would do two week rotations with them while I was in training. They take me out and do inspections and give me pieces of the work to do together. And I got to see how they did what they did. And despite what I'm gonna keep of how they did their work and, um what I was going to develop on my own, and e was really fortunate to work to work with them, and under them they were just really great great mentors. And each taught me very different skill sets and very different things to focus on what really fun and kind.

[00:22:19] spk_0: That's great to me. What I'm thinking is you probably learned systems very early in your career on Lee because and I'm just throwing this out there because my mind kind of think so. Wow, military people teaching someone, they're probably going to be really good and really keen on systems and then being the front runners of a program. They had long nights. Ah, hard fought battles, learning give and take with even all the people that regulating. So that information being transferred to the next generation, especially since at that time I would imagine if they start in the seventies were coming into the nineties. You know, they had a pretty good, you know, feel for this thing. So, yeah, when you became a compliance investigator, uh, your inspector, I should say, right, Uh, when you were picking up these systems for you, was it something that was easy to follow? Or is it something that you you really was like? You didn't get it until there's Ah ah ha moment?

[00:23:25] spk_1: No. You know, I had enough exposure with the three of them and rotating around enough, I was able to start thinking Okay, Yeah, I could do that. I like the way they do that. And then sometimes I was also in the field and training with other investigators from our Saint Paul office. And once in a while, I'd be like, you know, I'm not gonna do it that way, you know, like that wouldn't feel natural for me. Or I can see the employers eyes glazing over right now, or I can sense that they're scared. You know, I'm not going to I'm not going to do that. But like Richard, who was the most systematic of all of my mentors, he had no employers would say to him, What are you gonna look at? Where you going to start? How are you going to do this today? And his answer was always We're going to start at the front door knob and work our way in. And actually, hey, was he was very, very thorough. And so he kind of taught me some patterning. You know, when you walk into, like, let's say a factory or you walk on step onto a construction site and they're your eyes air just automatically filled with all of these things to look at. And you're like, Oh, I see an overhead gantry crane here and I see a conveyor belt here and I see a paint booth over there, and I see some welders over there and oh, my gosh. I see a press break over there and, you know, like, oh, where do I start? You know, Or maybe something you've never, ever, ever seen in your life before. Like a gigantic thing called a carding machine that cards wool. And it's a Zlata Jas, your house and it's in some kind of box. And you're like, Whoa, where do I start? You know eso Richard taught me, you know, like process, you know, do the perimeter or go up and down the aisles or look, look left as you're going, and then come back up and look right the next time and so you could break it down in your head as to how to approach looking for hazard. Yeah, right s So I did that every single time. I just have to grit it out because I first wanted to kind of see as much as I could see with my eyes first to go. Okay. Is there somewhere I need to go right now? Is there something that's so blatant I have to go to Or I would ask the company to give me a tour that would follow a process, a process flow, especially if it was in a factory like let's start at the beginning of the process and we're gonna take it that way or started the raw materials and we take it that way on DSO. You know, that has been my approach, and it's always been my approach Whenever I do a safety on it. Andi, I learned that from Richard and Dale. He's the one who came out of the u A. W He was all about people. He was all about studying people at the soft skills. Yeah, he was. He was really about that. And, you know, kind of How do we How do we kind of de escalate when we get there? How do we make these people not so scared because you walk in? You asked for the top official, You show a badge, you tell him you're there for an inspection and people are like, Oh, either get really, really scared or they get really, really mad. If it's a safety professional that you're dealing with most of the time, they're like, thank you. Thanks for coming on. They whisper something like, Could you check this for me, E Why Your hair on S o. You know, he really he really taught me how toe to do some of that, you know, we're watching for people's physical cues. You know, when you see someone's next starting to get read on. And you know, I would really try to work with my body language and work really hard at explaining the reason why everybody wanted to know the reason Why am I being inspected on? I made it my absolute promise. Um, in all the years that I did that, that I would never say because you came upon a list because that I mean truthfully, that is the reason they came upon a list. But what list? How did I get on the list? What do these numbers mean? And so OSHA every year decides who they will target for inspection. And in Minnesota, they would always give out the new list in March and some years, it was based on the modification rates, and if you had over a particular number, you'd be put on a list. Some years. It was based on BLS data related to type of industry on, you know, the industries that we're seeing the greatest injuries you'd be put on a list

[00:28:21] spk_0: and that's from the dark sector meeting the days away. Restricted transfer rates if you're higher of a certain percentage. Then you're on that list.

[00:28:29] spk_1: Yeah. And so some years it was We're going to focus on public sector employers, and we're going to take every 10th one on the list, you know, something like that. And so every year there was a different decision made within the agency as to which employers would be targeted for inspection. But it was always based on data. That meant something. It wasn't randomized. It s so I would spend time every year when the list would come out and ask. Okay. What is it this year? How did you get to this? So that when those employers, when I met them and they go, how did I get on a list? How did Why are you here? You stay. You have probable cause. What does that mean? And so part of my de escalation technique was to explain that, And this is this is where this came from. This is why I'm here. Unless, of course, it was a complaint than that was obvious. Probable cause or if it was a death, um, you know, or a serious injury, that kind of thing. Those air those are more obvious reasons for probable cause. But I was really careful to do that as a way to respect to the employer and explained, You know, like, this is why I'm here today. It's not because I drove by and I looked at a sign I didn't like on your building or E can't do that

[00:29:44] spk_0: e from my audience. A lot of them. They have some really good information there because, especially if you say one of your services is a mock OSHA audit, you know, just kind of figuring out just a nice way Thio to just make a grid, if you will macro view versus micro view and then working your way through the process, talking to people and doing as if you're one of the inspectors s O. That was a great tip for everybody there. Who, Who has that Aziz? One of their services. Just someone that's been there before, showing how you do it and then soft skills, man. Goodness, there's so many soft skills that people don't have that you need to if you're going to get someone to comply in anything. And of course, I start thinking compliance for us before culture. And I know people really want safety culture, but sometimes they're not even hitting the basics of compliance. Eso uh so that's great. I had a question and everything that you said there. Uh, I'm very familiar with federal OSHA. I'm not as familiar with any of the state plans. It's a free Tosha or Cal OSHA and Tosha being Tennessee OSHA. But for me, when I'm dealing with, uh, if I'm doing an informal conference or or something similar to that, I always refer to the field operation manual. And for me, I have to go through that thing repeatedly, over and over again to get real familiar with the field operation manual, which is, I think, currently fom 1 64 and that that field operation manual for the feds on there. And it is truly saying if you're doing an inspection, you gotta follow these steps. If you're gonna say it's Ah, um, it's a serious violation, doesn't meet this criteria, and then you have even that has its own little breakdown, depending on the hazard itself and its rating, Uh, on the state plan or you kind of using that as well, or you have additional document that goes with that.

[00:31:51] spk_1: Yeah, and so, remembering that the state OSHA plans have to be as good or better than the federal government. That's part of what the agreement is When a state enters, you know, into agreement with federal OSHA to say we want jurisdiction over the Fed's, then they have to agree to be as good or better than. And so that translates to all of those kind of documents is well. And so we had our own version of the same thing eso when, um when it came to like figuring out what what the penalty would be for a violation. I had a grid, and then the grid e had a manual and a grid to follow, and every single time I had to answer the same questions. And so let's say it's, you know, through the, uh, the adjustable guard on the band saw was missing, right? And so I would have to answer these same questions, any hazard, same questions like how long is the hazard existed and then you give it a number rating. So you'd be asking these questions that when you did your inspection and I had to take notes on all of that as I was walking around. How many employees are exposed to this hazard? How long is the hazard existed? I think maybe I just said that, Um uh, there was a bunch of other mitigating questions that aren't coming to the top of my head right now, but it was all about severity and probability on. So I had this grid with severity and probability. I'd get get a number after I had my number after answered all the questions each time. Then I would go to another part of my manual, and I would look up that exact regulation. You know, whatever it was for that particular thing. And that would tell me what letter grade I had to give that particular violation. That hazard on an eight F scale. A meaning, the least serious thing that could occur to Owen employees f meaning most serious. This is a fatality. And so I had my probability number. Maybe it was a four. Maybe it was a five minute was a seven whatever. Then I had my my letter grade. And then whatever lined up in the box is what based penalty would be So whether that was $500.1000 dollars, 2000, you know, like that. And then I was able to give discounts from there based on some criteria. So every investigation involved looking at people's safety programs. They're written safety programs, and then they're training records as well.

[00:34:22] spk_0: Then they go for the good faith, then,

[00:34:24] spk_1: Yeah, good faith and then history. I'd have to look up their history to see if they'd ever had the same citations, same or similar in the past, whether or not I could give them a history credit. And so then I give a discount from there. Almost like a sale. Yeah. And so you do that calculation for each individual thing that you cited every single time? Yeah. So for consultants, you know, if you're helping an employer who's had an investigation, you know one thing You have the right to ask if the employer is like, I don't even know why the heck I got inspected. You know, you have a right to ask and have them ask. You know, what was the probable cause used for this inspection? And if they say, Hey, you landed on a list, say you know, tell me more about the list. You know, What is that list? And then tell me about how did you arrive at this rating for this particular penalty? You know, it's That's okay. That's okay to ask. It's not like it's a defensive thing. Just, like explain the science behind it. Eyes. One could do that for you or for your client that you're working with.

[00:35:29] spk_0: And usually that conversation will be in the informal conference. You're going over this thing and you're trying to figure out all right. Was this based on local Emphasis Program and National Emphasis Program? Is this because of my any I. C. S code? Or is this something that

[00:35:46] spk_1: experience modification?

[00:35:48] spk_0: Yeah, my email. So what What is this thing that has caused me to to do this? And then when you get that answer, uh, then that's gonna help you as the consultant figure out. OK, Well, uh, yeah. Chances are that could be, you know, a follow up from this. Or maybe it feels a referral. Then, you know, you gotta make sure you get all those things worked out to, uh but I would imagine that somewhere along the way you started getting like a like a good system down and you would well, first before the system. It's just I'm curious here. I just had a little something of the wrong mind. I don't want to forget it. So I'd better say it now, so I don't forget it. Were you affected by when Dr Michaels on federal OSHA? We went to the enforcement units. Eso basically instead of, you know, shooting a fish out of a barrel with a construction site and someone all their activity is going for those really low hazard. I should say, hi hazard high frequency things on one area and then trying to get all of their activity in one of those really small sites. And then all of a sudden there, racking up and racking up and racking up all these enforcement, uh, and then someone else who's on the process. Safety management could be in the one facility for four days, five days a week, and now they don't have the same activity as the other person who is truly, you know, racking up everything, looking really good, getting promotions, and then the enforcement unit to come out and then you were like, hold on these air waited at 50.9. And now this process safety management is rated at I forgot what I think it was an eight or something for process safety management. And that kind of equalized the field between, you know, inspectors. Uh, was that an effective for you in any way?

[00:37:38] spk_1: Yes. You're talking about how investigators are rated or judged in their performance. Essentially, if I'm getting it right, Sheldon, right? Yeah, that's right. And so e can't remember who was the head of OSHA on the federal level when I left. I know Dr Michaels. I know of him. E don't think I e don't think that he was the head when I was there. I could be wrong, but that because I was working with the state plan, um, he did not have influence over that, But my governor did. If that makes sense, eso when I was just about ready to hang up my OSHA credentials and move on, um, that actually was one of the reasons why was how investigators were being were being judged. And so a different governor came in and they pick a different set of commissioners as they as they often, but not always dio. And that really changes the dynamic of particularly enforcement agencies. Whether it's, you know, like Department of Natural Resource is or the state equivalent of the EPA. Um, that kind of thing, you know, they governors really do make impacts. Eso At that time, it was doom or inspections. Get in and get out. We want you to get in really fast. We want you to get out really fast. We want you to find something, but get out and get your report done really fast. And, you know, I had been trained by Richard, Dale and Bob. That's not how we did the work. We did a thorough job, and we found all the hazards really could find because the mission was to protect people. Right? And eso this new way under that particular governor just rubbed me the wrong way. I'm like, I'm here to do good work. I'm not here to do a quick and dirty working it out. Uh huh. Yeah. And I'm going to spend as much time as I need to doing these investigations to serve, uh, the common good for people. Eventually. That's why I left so similar to what you're talking about That Yeah, that happened in my career.

[00:39:50] spk_0: Okay, well, I got curious to thinking about that. And then I was like, Well, for me, I have another business called Shell Bro Safety and me and my business partner. He's ex OSHA. As I told you before, when we were talking and he retired from the Tampa office is the assistant area director. But he had worked all the way up in director and other areas throughout OSHA, and, uh, he's been telling me. I remember when the enforcement units was really a big thing, and he's like, Oh, yeah, you know, those people just they do all activities just to make themselves look really big, and therefore they get the promotions, they get some sort of recognition because of all the activity they do. And then when those enforcement unit kicked in, it was just like, want, want, want

[00:40:35] spk_1: Well, you know, I wanted to make a difference. Yeah, I really wanted to make a I wanted to make a difference for four people. And you know, I have lots of stories in the ways that I did, and I have lots of employers who still follow my career, who still called me and asked for help that I investigated on. And, you know, I think I think that's e think that's a good thing you were. You were talking about informal conference and so as an investigator, you know, after citations were issued, OSHA citations were issued. The employer always has the right to contest the citations and nearly every single time in when I was doing my closing conference, which means the investigation is done, and I'm explaining to them what I'm citing, specifically which regulations and why I would encourage them to contest. Which sounds like what? Unless the employer had been really awful to me, I would, which happened Not often, but it would. You know someone's threatening you with their Dobermans on the site or trying to bribe you with drinks or whatever. I mean, that happened to it didn't happen very often, but it happened. But But I would encourage people to contest, and they'd be like, What are not going to get in trouble if I contest? I said no, it's your right to do that. As an employer, you have that right and you should exercise that right and make sure you do it before your time runs out. Because there's a time clock that starts. Yeah, as soon as you get those citations in the mail and please contest and they'd be like, But I'm not disagreeing with anything you found. What am I going to say? And so for your consultants, encourage your employers to contest. It doesn't mean that you're not agreeing with what was found. Maybe sometimes you disagree, and that's perfectly fine, too. But I said, You know, it's a way for you to get penalties reduced, go into an informal contest and say, You know what? I fixed everything. Here's how much it costs. Here's pictures. Here's how I did it. Here's processes, we change. Here's we got how we got employees involved. And rather than giving you government this money, I would like to take this amount of money and invested in safety in this way. I said, Come up with an idea. Come up with a plan, something that you want to do or bring invoicing along of how you fixed what you did and how much it costs and start there as a negotiating point and see what you can dio see where you could go and people did that and you always worked. People didn't get turned down and at least their monetary penalty got reduced.

[00:43:25] spk_0: A lot of people Now they're just going straight to that expedited settlement agreement as soon as they see that, you know, they're like, Oh, yeah, I don't have to do an informal conference. We just got a percentage off. So let's do this expedited settlement agreement and then they usually, you know, if it's if it's a good figure. I remember I had a past client of mine. Get one of those and they have me write him up a little. A little, uh, it was more of a summary of if they should take this or not. And I gave them my opinion on Should we go ahead and do in a formal conference? And they had to include my price and all that stuff, and then the other side is expedited settlement agreement and they were repeat offender and the prices would have been higher. And I like, take it, just do

[00:44:11] spk_1: the math. I mean, sometimes do the math. If it's if it's small to begin with. And you think you might get a 20 to 30% reduction versus taking a day off of work and driving to an office and spending time on the road. And you may end up with the same thing. Yeah, that's definitely definitely wise. Wise consideration.

[00:44:29] spk_0: Yeah. And I just said, you know, at this at this rate and what they're having and what you you know, we're doing, you know? Sure. You want to tell them that you have abated this thing, but in this, the dollar figure there often with this agreement, I go, I would go ahead the agreement, you know s oh, I've done that of for for another topic that hopefully you have enough time for I got my fingers crossed because I know it's a long day for you to Andi. I'm just gonna go ahead and ask. We'll ask forgiveness later. Uh, if you're still, like, plugged in with with OSHA and can explain how this covert 19 thing is affecting them because, you know, we see it in many different ways. But now I know that there's so many regulators that air gonna they're just getting beaten up about? What are they doing with Cove in 19 and why hasn't been been mawr citations. And I know you may not be able to speak on the federal side, but but maybe, you know, now that you're you're on the other end of people all over the globe comes to talk to you. But, you know, in this situation with Kovar 19 let's ask you two distinct questions first, how do you feel is an inspector. This has been, uh, on a personal level, affecting these inspectors as they're seeing their hands tied in some ways as things they can't do. And then, secondly, you got your magic show, Sheldon wand I just gave you. And what would you do when you wave that magic wand to say we could fix the scenario in the proper way? If you were, you know, Mrs Magic Wand Holder.

[00:46:14] spk_1: Hmm. Well, first, let's take the magic wand. Okay. So, you know, Magic Wand is that State of California has had a lot on the books for 10 years on dealing with airborne hazards such as viruses. Yeah, and it has been sitting at the feet of federal OSHA for some time. without action. Yeah, and unfortunately of California also has not been enforcing. It s o, you know, is there Is there a way that we could have protected workers better with things that were already in place, Tried true and tested and already on the books? Yes. And so, you know, magic wand thing Number one would have been that the law of the land in California would have spread across the entire United States to be able to be used and utilized by safety and health professionals like everybody's looked like everybody who is listening. Um, you know, the second, of course, would have been Thio have actually been able to use the pandemic response plan that had been put together by prior presidential administration on and actually used and actually used. That would have been a lovely guidebook for all safety and health professionals as well as employers in general. And just, you know, so many agencies to be able to use so magic wand, um, having having access and ability and force and use things such as those would have would have been

[00:48:00] spk_0: good. Good. All right, now, let's go back to the first one. The the empathy

[00:48:05] spk_1: side of ocean. Yeah, right. So, yes. Have I been thinking about my OSHA counterparts? Oh, my gosh, Yes. And of course, every safety health professional right now. I mean, what an incredibly challenging time. You know, a novel, a novel hazard. We're used to dealing with hazards. And in fact, we've, you know, we've had respiratory type hazards before that we deal with and protect forest. Well, but this is novel. This is new. This is We don't have a handbook for it. Well, of course. You know,

[00:48:36] spk_0: we were able to at

[00:48:37] spk_1: least use something that California came up with. That gonna help many people. Um, but which, by the way, doesn't mean anyone can't You can still use their guide. Your guidance is just that doesn't have teeth right now on DSO when you think about ocean, Ocean Enforcement, um, you know, on the federal level, um, I looked at the history or I'm not the history of looked at the press releases of what they have released by way of inspections. And I think it was six cases that I saw that they have press releases for on their website right now.

[00:49:11] spk_0: E Well, I think there were two.

[00:49:13] spk_1: Yeah. 123455 that I'm looking at right now. Some in health care and summon meatpacking where there were citations that were issued, um, somewhere general general duty for employers not protecting employees from from known hazard i e the virus. And then others were very specific to personal protective equipment or respirators, respirator fit, testing and training, that kind of thing. Um, so that's not a lot, right? Yeah, that's not a lot. And are there more that are in play that haven't been finalized? Maybe Probably e don't know. You know, in terms of state plans, which about half the states have a state OSHA plan? Um, you know, interesting to know how they're all doing it in different states and what their governors are allowing for not allowing for ICANN. E can speak and know what's happening in my state. In Minnesota. I know that our investigators here are doing investigations, and it's interesting. My my governor was explaining along with his commissioners last week two weeks ago about targeted inspections that were taking place with employers across the state of Minnesota, and they were agencies that were working together. Uh, and this is really interesting. So it was Department of Labor, which is where OSHA is in Minnesota. It was Department of Agriculture. It was the Department of Health. And I think there was one other agency and they were working together in partnership doing investigations over the course of a couple of weekends after they received thousands of complaints. Eso they were trying to decide how to tackle that, and they did it together. Now, is that unusual for agencies to do investigations at the same time together? Yes, it is. It's not unusual Foreign agency to make a referral to another agency. You know, like I may have made a referral to, um, Pollution control agency. Or I may have made a referral thio someone in, uh, you know, with with fire. But it was very unusual that I would ever have, you know, done a joint inspection with other agencies at the same time. But they're doing that right now in Minnesota, and so it would be interesting to find out what other states are doing if they're if they're providing services and help to employers, if they're doing consultative work, if they're doing enforcement activity. Yeah, I don't know about the other. The other OSHA.

[00:51:52] spk_0: You're the only one that I've really heard about. Virginia is now have ah Anak Chua law on the books that that they are now enforcing for Yeah, Virginia s O that state plan the Commonwealth State plan. They do have, ah, plan that they they're going and it's effective right now to eso truly. They said That's it. We're not waiting for the Fed. We're gonna do this and they're gonna be more stringent. And they started that and then e don't recall. I believe there was another one that is just starting, and I really the name just escaping which state? But, uh, man, I think it was a northern state. But I know for Virginia for sure.

[00:52:41] spk_1: Yeah, you know, And so, to any fellow ocean investigators, so there who might might be listening or found this podcast somewhere honor the struggle. I really honor the struggle and particularly those who are being hampered because we know that everybody wants to do their best work. And everyone wants to be helpful to people on employers and employees right now as well, thanks to everybody who's working their hearts

[00:53:09] spk_0: out. This episode has been powered by safety FM