The Problem with OSHA Compliance Officers!
Safety Consultant with Sheldon Primus
The Problem with OSHA Compliance Officers!
March 8, 2023
In this episode, Sheldon reveals some hard truths about the new OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). OSHA has been in a hiring frenzy to make up for nearly 5 years without leadership. The switch from the Donald Trump administration to the Joe Biden OSHA has been stark and aggressive. New CSHOs need to hit the ground running, but they may be under trained and not informed as to the 29 CFR 1904 standard or the Field Operations Manual 164. What can a consultant do to prepare for a new OSHA workforce that has to do compliance enforcement without experience?
Keywords: Department of Labour, US OSHA, OSHA, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, HELP committee, US government, democrats, republicans, compliance enforcement, compliance assistance, EHS, Health and Safety, OSHA recordkeeping, Field Operations Manual, US politics, government, Sheldon Primus, Sheldon, Primus, SafetyFM, safety and health, occupational safety, worker safety, Informal conferences, fines, citations, Notice of Contest

[00:00:06] spk_0: This episode

[00:00:07] spk_1: is powered by Safety FM. Well, welcome to the Safety consultant podcast. I'm your host, Sheldon Primus, the podcast where I teach you the business of being a safety consultant. Talk about environmental stuff. Sometimes they throw that in, but primarily I'm just here to help you get your business going and help you stay safe, help your workers stay safe. If you are the person who is working for someone and you're playing the role of the safety consultant. I'm here for you. If you have not liked or subscribed to the show, please do. And that is going to be through whatever client you're looking at me. You're listening to me right now on itunes, Stitcher, Google music, all the ones, whatever it is, go ahead and subscribe. That'd be awesome to be a way to show your support, share with a friend will be awesome. I like that quite a bit. So this week I do want to talk about OSHA, but I'm going to talk about OSHA in a different way. And just because this is a class week for me, meaning that I have actual students that I'm teaching with the certified occupational safety specialist program. It's an online program that I'm teaching with a line safety council, not just online, but I started in person and now or online because we, you know, had to transition. There was a big event that happened right around 2019, going into 2020. You may have heard of it. So during that time period, we switched over and uh it's not switched. We added, how's that? I don't like that better. We added. So we added to the program, but that's what I'm doing this week. So day one, we always talk about OSHA. So I kinda remember that it's been a while since I talked to you guys about OSHA. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to make this kind of like my, um my traditional, um I believe I usually do it once a quarter. I haven't done it in a while. I did some record keeping stuff, but usually it's like one a quarter. And so I am going to tell you guys a little bit about what's happening right now with them. Oh man, they are in some flux. I gotta be honest with you and I am hearing things with compliance officers coming in that are really new. So the compliance officers that are coming in that are really new. Um They might need some more training too. So I'm gonna not be the trainer. I'm not that role. I'm open to it if the department of labor wants to hire me. But I honestly feel like, um, OSHA was put into a position that they had to do what they're doing now and that is to its labor market. Okay. Let me first start out with the labor market. Yes, there's other things that happened during, um, the tenure of the former president of the United States where OSHA was basically just put in a box and did not expand to anything. And honestly, uh they were, it was a crushing thing for people who were actually in the industry. Um and just, you know, we'll do what we wanted. Well, the idea was for the compliance officers and I'm not saying all compliance officers, the ones that I know is talking to me was, uh we really don't understand some of the things that we're doing, especially when it is that COVID 19 time. So it was more of a watch and wait for management to lead. But there wasn't a director of OSHA, the Assistant Secretary of Labor Department of Labor in the US. That person, the that position will be the head of OSHA. The position is appointed by the help committee in the Senate, but it's still that person's position during four years. Um They just basically had no ocean. So because that position was always put in, it was held by someone who wasn't, they were acting. So the oldest say, oh Chanel in two years of the new administration, they're trying to get their foundation back. So they're hiring like crazy if you're in the US or you are maybe trying to consider moving to the U S. That's why you're listening to the show to kind of get an idea of what the OSHA standard is. I would just say look at the Department of Labor site for OSHA OSHA dot gov. And there's a good section in there that tells you that they're hiring. So when you click on that and select that you'll be able to, they're gonna take you over to actually another page us jobs dot gov. I believe it is. So you can also go there and look up Department of Labor, but they are aggressively hiring. So let's put in our hats of management, right? Whenever we hire people, especially new, there's a risk, right? We're safety people. So we know that there is risk. So as you expand, especially rapidly expand, not only is there risk that these workers are facing in a normal setting. These are actually regulators now that are coming into a situation where they now have to learn, hit the ground running and be able to identify hazards to the degree that they are able to identify a hazard. And then also be able to know the rules that the compliance officers have to follow. Now that's going to be called the field operation manual. The current version is 1 64. So what you would do is go into the ocean dot co website when you're not listening on a vehicle or something like that. If you're driving, that's our rules are rules are, if you are driving, you do not operate your cell phone or whatever, stop signs to go to the website and giving you that is a no go. Okay. So what you are going to do a no go. So what you are going to do you're going to actually listen to is all the way through when you get home, man, that's your time to go ahead and look this up. So when you get an ocean dot gov, you're gonna put in the search field operation manual or abbreviated F OM 1 64. So that is the most current and the date of this recording is the date of my release, March eight, So at this time when you get there and you get that document downloaded, especially if you're a US um based safety officer, what that document is showing you is how the compliance officers have to do their job. So I would suggest that whenever you have clients who call you and say, hey man, oh she's here. I need some help. You're grabbing the FOM, you're gonna drive over to them or, or however you deal with that if it's a video conferencing or whatever, um pricing wise whenever that happens, just, you know, since we are safety consultants, um generally if it's someone, you know, I would say, um, as soon as they're telling you oceans there, that's not the time for, uh, you're gonna end up giving two things. One is gonna be some, some quick, quick, quick, um, information you want to gather and you want to respond and say, all right, you still have your rights and I know this compliance thing could be stressful, but it's okay breathe, encourage them to breathe first. And then the second thing you want to do is just tell them, uh that while the compliance officer is there, you need them to be a participant in the inspection. You need them to take pictures. If they're taking pictures, if they're doing measurements, you need them to do their measurements. And if anything varies, meaning um uh in general industry in OSHA, four ft from the, from the unguarded side to the actual lower level, That's your height, right? So at four ft in the card, rail safety net or some thought of uh personal fall arrest system, uh if your tape measure says three ft 11 inches, but Osha's magically says four ft and you don't have guardrails, then now we've got a one inch difference that could lead to a citation. So what you need to do at that point would be to say, hey, can you put this in your records? Not, can you please put this in your records that we have a different uh in our readings? So, that's what I would tell that individual first because you may not be able to get there, but at least you're going to get information I'll help you with what would be later on, uh, informal conference. So those are the things I would tell them. But the pricing now, um, I would let them know right ahead that for OSHA compliance, uh, like emergency needs, you're gonna price it as such, but you really want to price it so that it's almost like a two stage pricing. So first is the uh flat rate for general consulting stuff, whatever your rate is for. Um, I would imagine the time equivalent should probably be maybe about 10 hours, uh time equivalent. You may not take 10 hours to, to do some of the work that you're going to need to do in the background and, and going through the site and everything else and maybe less or maybe more. But if you're thinking whatever your 10 hour rate is, that should be your, your stipend that says, uh if you know, if you tell them what I just told them, I told you just, yeah, get them set in a moment, but then let them know that, hey, I'm willing to help you have the ability to help you. However, I'm going to have a flat rate of this amount and uh that is going to cover me helping you through this period. If we do an informal conference, then that's also going to cover you in that. However, there will be an additional price if I get your fines down. So that pricing for fines getting the fines down should be a percentage of what you are getting them down, getting them off. So basically if it's $100 fine And now you got them down to $20, that means it was a $60 reduction Right? So it's $80 reduction. Goodness it's too early. Hold on let me get my coffee. That was really bad. Oh God that was so bad that I'm gonna have to go ahead and give myself a sad turn bone. Alright let's do her math again please stop laughing at me. Everybody out there is like 2 6. Okay. Alright I know I know. Leave me alone. It's early. All right. So now My back to my analogy so $100 is defined that you got uh the person got you reduced it to $20 so they're pulling out $20, you know, this is ridiculously low but I was hoping to keep the number simple. So I wouldn't do so I wouldn't mess up like I did before. So now $80 was basically you know what they saved right there not paying that $80, they're only paying ocean $20. So the other part of your pricing is a percentage of that. I've got a buddy who's in consulting. His percentage is 50% of that. So basically that $80 that was saved, he's going to do an additional bill for $40. So he's taking 50% of what was saved. So, whatever that number is to you, of whatever was saved, you know, maybe 25%, Some of these fines for OSHA right now of $158,000 for one citation, if it's called a willful or repeat. So imagine saving your uh your whoever your client is 100,000 out of that. And let's say they're paying a max fine, but somehow you negotiate it down to 58,000. So basically the company That 100,000 that they would have had to pay, you got it down to 50,000. Imagine 50% of that 25% of that. That's what we're talking about. So again, it's gonna be a flat rate and that flat rate is going to be basically a retainer and you can mark it as such. And then on top of that and truly let them know ahead of time and you could even show them an example in your proposal if you need to do a proposal or just give them an example and make sure you get the math right. Stop it, stop it. Okay. So let's go back to what I was saying about the compliance officers. So now your I told you guys a little bit about what to what I've been seeing and honestly, things that I've been seeing and hearing is that currently the compliance officers that are new are very eager, but they may not know the actual rules of the 1903, which is the inspection rules in the US that's the part number 1903. So those 1903 rules are really heavy on employer rights. Uh, they give responsibilities for the compliance officer but they do really set out employers rights. So I'm hearing stories of um, compliance officers who are going beyond 1903. I don't think it's malicious. I honestly just think it's a function of hiring. So, like I started this conversation, if you go aggressively hiring, you're gonna have a whole bunch of new people. You get a whole bunch of new people, you're gonna need to train them, right. Uh, they're also gonna be exposed to new risks, but then they're also going to be those people that you're gonna really need to make sure that you watch them for a little while. Unfortunately, OSHA can't do that. Uh, they're gonna have to hit the ground running. So these new workers, uh, they're gonna have the normal transition period where there's training, but they're going to be left on their own to really work on lower hazard investigations, but they're still hazardous and they still need to know nuances. So that means they may make a mistake unknowingly and you now are going to be the consultant to help a client. So yes, there's opportunities here. So that's why I'm doing this whole thing because I want you to start thinking of doing mock OSHA audits, okay. And then not only just mock OSHA audits and whatever that is for your organization. Um If you are physically working for a place, you could do your own mock audit. If you want to call it an audit to call it your own department audit. That's up to you. But for us who are consultants full time, yeah, Macos audits has that ring to it and people really know of it, you in different countries, whatever your agency is, you know, throw that in there unless I wouldn't put their logo on your um advertising in any way. But what you want to do is say that you offer services that is going to find these things that are hazardous or could be cited prior to the regulatory agency getting there. So that's the the intent here with that. So I started out talking to you guys about compliance officers. I started telling me a little bit about what's happening with OSHA. So honestly, I think that we are covered enough for what I wanted to go over today and thank you guys for just listening to me. Um If you have not yet, I would just go ahead and encourage you to go to safety consultant dot TV. And what that is is a product that I created where I've got over 64 hours of videos-related to safety and health, starting your compliance, your safety, compliance, safety, consulting business. And then also some other things related to uh just fundamentals for safety. So this is a place where you can go and you can keep your chops up. Uh And then I also have documents there that you could download. So it's not only the site you can see on your Roku and Apple TV and, and all your devices, but you go online and you can download templates that you could use for your business. Uh And you know, it's tough that I've mentioned, how is that not just templates uh guides and everything and it even is the home of the safety consultant, 101. So if you have not heard of that one, The safety consultant, 101 is where I help people just get started right from scratch with your safety consulting. So that's also on safety consultant dot TV. So that's where you go or on your app store, look up safety consultant TV, on your app. And uh that's going to lead you to safety consultant TV. Putting code S C 101 for 30 days free S C 101. So with that, thanks everyone for listening because I have a wonderful rest of your week. Go get him.

[00:19:20] spk_0: This episode has been powered by safety FM expressed on this podcast or broadcast. Are those of the host and guest reflect the official policy or position of the company. Examples past hour are only examples the real world available as they are based on obviously assumptions made within this analysis, not reflective of the position of part of this podcast or broadcast may be reproduced stored within the retrieval system, any form or by any means mechanical, electronic recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the creator of the podcast or broadcast.

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