OSHA Targets Auto Parts Suppliers

By Roy Maurer Mar 19, 2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) in the southeastern U.S. to improve hazardous working conditions in the automotive-parts-supplier industry.

The inspection program covers Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi through January 2015.

“Hazards associated with the auto-parts-supplier industry that are the focus of this REP continue to be the source of serious injuries, including amputations, and deaths to employees,” OSHA said. “Workers in this industry are exposed to caught-in, crushing, struck-by and electrical hazards due to the machinery utilized in the making of these parts.”

“As a result of the REP, most automotive-supply manufacturers located in the Southeast can expect a comprehensive, wall-to-wall OSHA inspection within the next two years,” said Amanda Strainis-Walker, a senior counsel in Epstein Becker Green’s labor and employment practice, based in Washington, D.C. “The only way these automotive-supply manufacturers can avoid such an inspection is if they were already the subject of a comprehensive OSHA inspection during the preceding two years.”

Inspection Procedure

Inspections will begin 30 days after notification letters have been mailed to employers, to give them the opportunity to contact OSHA’s consultation service for an onsite visit, the agency said. OSHA is often charged with carrying out enforcement measures only, and it wishes to make sure businesses are aware of the agency’s outreach and compliance-assistance services. The onsite consultations will be conducted independent of OSHA’s enforcement activities, and the discovery of hazards will not mandate citations or penalties. Nevertheless, employers will be required to take necessary protective measures. If a company corrects hazards that a consultant identifies, the employer could be exempt from OSHA inspections under this REP.

Strainis-Walker recommends that employers prepare now for an inspection by:

  • Ensuring that injury and illness record-keeping forms are current, accurate and ready to produce to OSHA.
  • Reviewing written programs to confirm they are up-to-date, compliant and consistent with what is happening on the plant floor. “Focus on lockout/tagout, including the requirement to conduct annual lockout/tagout certifications,” she said.
  • Certifying employee training is current and filling in any gaps.
  • Conducting regular walkthrough inspections to affirm employees are following company policies and training.
  • Having a third-party safety audit conducted, preferably under the protection of attorney-client privilege.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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