State Assists Companies to be OSHA Compliant

By Renée Rewiski

During the information-packed February meeting, Michael Levy, OSHA Assistant Regional Administrator, explained how remodeling companies can assist themselves in being OSHA compliant without being penalized for safety hazards. By participating in the On-Site Consultation program, small business owners — contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, etc. with fewer than 250 employees — can work with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development to have an on-site review of working conditions.

This review is a federally funded program performed by the state. The Dept of Labor employee is trained to look for OSHA violations and bring them to the attention of the manager/employer. “The state official looks for everything an OSHA Compliance official would look for,” explained James Giarraputo, OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist Region 2. No violation is issued at the time. No fine is issued. The owner is given an opportunity to remedy the situation, said Giarraputo.

According to the NJDLWD website: Under the Small Business Focus (SBF) initiative, companies with 50 or fewer employees will receive a special priority in scheduling consultations. Your name, your firm's name, and any information you provide about your workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers is kept confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA enforcement staff. Your only obligation will be to commit to correcting serious job safety and health hazards -- a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner.

Getting StartedSince consultation is a voluntary activity, you must request it. You can request a consultation using our request form, by phone (609) 292-0404, by email, or by letter to New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health, P.O. Box 953, Trenton, NJ 08625. A consultant will discuss your specific needs with you and set up a visit based on the priority assigned to your request, your work schedule, and the time needed for the consultant to prepare adequately to serve you. OSHA encourages a complete review of your firm's safety and health situation; however, if you wish you may limit the visit to one or more specific problems.

An Opening Conference is held to explain the consultant’s role and the employer’s obligations. A Walk-Through is scheduled at which time the employer can discuss problems. Maximum employee participation is recommended. A comprehensive consultation also includes:  (1) appraisal of all mechanical and environmental hazards and physical work practices; (2) appraisal of the present job safety and health program or the establishment of one; (3) a conference with management on findings; (4) a written report of recommendations and agreements; and, (5) training and assistance with implementing recommendations

Closing Conference: The consultant will then review detailed findings with you in a closing conference. You will learn not only what you need to improve, but what you are doing right, as well. At that time, you can discuss problems, possible solutions and an abatement period to eliminate or control any serious hazards identified during the walk-through. In rare instances, the consultant may find an "imminent danger" situation during the walk-through. If so, you must take immediate action to protect all employees. In certain other situations, those which would be judged a "serious violation" under OSHA criteria -- you and the consultant are required to develop and agree to a reasonable plan and schedule to eliminate or control that hazard. The consultants will offer general approaches and options to you. They may also suggest other sources for technical help.

Abatement and Follow Through: Following the closing conference, the consultant will send you a detailed written report explaining the findings and confirming the abatement periods agreed upon. Consultants may also contact you from time to time to check your progress. You, of course, may always contact them for assistance.
You must agree to post the "List of Hazards," in a prominent place, as it was received from the consultation project for three working days or until the hazards are corrected, whichever is later. Ultimately, OSHA does require hazard abatement so that each consultation visit achieves its objective -- effective employee protection. If you fail to eliminate or control identified serious hazards (or an imminent danger) according to the plan and within the limits agreed upon or an agreed-upon extension, the situation must be referred from consultation to an OSHA enforcement office for appropriate action. However, this has occurred only rarely in the past.

Benefits: Knowledge of your workplace hazards and ways to eliminate them can only improve your own operations -- and the management of your firm. You will get professional advice and assistance on the correction of workplace hazards and benefits from on-site training and assistance provided by the consultant to you and your employees. The consultant can help you establish or strengthen an employee safety and health program, making safety and health activities routine considerations rather than crisis-oriented responses. However, the consultation service cannot guarantee you will pass an OSHA inspection.

To request a free, advisory occupational safety and health consultation, please call (609) 292-0404; or by letter to New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health, P.O. Box 953, Trenton, NJ 08625; or by e-mail at

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development On-Site Consultation Program is designed to help employers control costs by reducing accidents and illnesses, by helping to identify workplace hazards, by assisting with safety and health program development and by offering safety and health training. This cooperative agreement program is 90 percent funded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and 10% by the state of New Jersey. See the website below for the details outlined above:

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