The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently sent letters to breweries and other beverage manufacturers in the southern half of Colorado informing them of an increase in inspections. OSHA has stated that the inspections are the result of a perceived increase in work-related injuries at beverage manufacturers over the last several years, most likely due to the dramatically increased number of manufacturers over the last several years. The observed injury rates are double, and in some cases five times the national average. OSHA has announced that they plan to begin these inspections in the fall of 2017 and continue them for as long as they continue to find pervasive violations within the industry.
Unlike other regulatory agencies, OSHA is not permitted to issue warning. This means if they find a violation during an inspection, they must issue a citation. In addition, all inspections occur without notice. So, what do breweries need to know to best prepare for the inspections? OSHA is not looking for specific violations, but they have announced the most common deficiencies in breweries. Respiratory protection, hazardous energy, first aid, and personal protective equipment are some of the areas in which most breweries are lacking. A properly planned safety protocol will not only prevent citations in these areas, but help to prevent other safety concerns in your brewery.
There are several free resources that can help you prepare for a potential inspection and ensure safety in the workplace. OSHA regularly posts compliance assistance products on their website at www.osha.gov. CSU has an OSHA Consultation Office which will do a mock-inspection on your premises in their SHARP program. The program is free, and confidential. They will review the results of the inspection with you and give guidance on avoiding citations in the event of an actual OSHA inspection. Any potential OSHA inspections would be avoided during participation in the SHARP program, and once complete, an employer will have all of the necessary information to pass any future OSHA inspection. Information to set up a consultation through this program is available here.
The resources above can help any brewery or employer prepare for a potential OSHA inspection. Please Contact Us if you have any questions about employer rights or responsibilities before, during, or after an inspection, or for additional resources to ensure a safe working environment for employees.