The sight of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) official pulling onto your dairy is probably not a welcomed one. Your level of anxiety probably correlates directly to your level of preparedness. There are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re ready for an OSHA visit.

  1. Identifying issues. It sounds simple, but the first step is making sure potential hazards are identified and plans established to make sure those hazards go away.
  2. Training employees. “Teaching your employees what hazards are and how to avoid them is a critical step in avoiding accidents,” says Bob Haese, senior health and safety manager with Bay Environmental Strategies, Inc. “An important part of training is not only providing them the information but also providing regular updates and quizzes to make sure your employees have actually learned the information.”
  3. Documentation and reporting. “When an OSHA representative stops for an inspection, the first thing they will want to see is your records,” says Haese.  That includes any workplace policies and procedures and verification that those policies are being followed. It also includes documentation and timely reporting of incidents. “Producers have eight hours to report work-related fatalities and catastrophes,” says Haese.

Reporting and record keeping is made easier through the OSHA website, www.osha.org. Documentation, including Form 300 guidelines used for incident recording, can be found on the site. Useful training information is available as well to make sure those in charge of overseeing workplace safety are fully aware of rules and regulations.

Most OSHA visits occur due to a fatality or casualty, or a complaint or referral from either an employee or third party. Periodically an OSHA inspector may conduct an inspection unrelated to an accident or referral to ensure policies are being followed and the proper documentation is in order. Dairies with more than 10 employees fall under OSHA regulations. If your dairy is in that category, make sure your policies and reporting processes are up to date.