Workplace Safety Consulting in Utah

Workplace Safety Consulting

If you conduct business here in Utah, it is likely that at least one regulatory agency will have jurisdiction over your operations. On the occupational health and safety side, that would be UOSH – Utah Occupational Safety and Health – a division of the Utah Labor Commission. UOSH has received Federal approval to manage a State-level OSHA program. State agencies must enforce occupational health and safety regulations that at least meet Federal ones because those Federal laws are “preemptive” and override State laws. However, they can and sometimes do add additional requirements (notably as with California).

Notable to UOSH are stricter requirements for machine guarding, personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency preparedness and other workplace safety aspects. As with virtually all regulatory agencies, UOSH is perennially underfunded and under-staffed. However UOSH remains a good resource for workplace safety information and guidance.

Utah’s regulatory environment has a reputation for being business-friendly. Regardless, your business must still meet OSHA requirements. It has been said that UOSH lacks resources for broadly effective business outreach and so many businesses simply are not meeting OSHA requirements on a day-to-day basis.

We regularly encounter established Utah business with little in the way of compliant OSHA programs, records and documentation. Again, that fact of life does not mean that your Utah business can skate on the margins and escape regulatory requirements. The burden naturally falls to the business to implement effective and conforming workplace safety management. The long and short of it is this: regardless the degree of active enforcement by regulatory agencies, the burden always remains on the business to comply. And where specific regulatory language may be lacking, OSHA still has an overarching “general duty clause” that compels employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.

OSHA requirements may vary depending upon your business sector, number of employees you have and other factors. UOSH may visit your facilities based on several different reasons such as a complaint, a workplace injury or fatality, and/or due to your SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code. As with most all OSHA enforcement agencies, UOSH targets specific industries based on workplace exposures, hazard classification, incident rates and other factors. A UOSH visit to your business means open doors and their opportunity to investigate and audit your workplace. But it is better to be prepared and to be able to demonstrate compliance rather than face penalties and/or fines.

That being said, UOSH offers consulting services to all businesses. They will send an inspector to your location to conduct a compliance audit and present their findings. Of course you must meet their timetable for compliance lest you face resulting fines. For businesses reluctant to invite UOSH in, we provide the same level of consulting service.

The best mechanism for improvement is to make changes before the hammer drops. When it comes to workplace safety and health, preemptive beneficial management is always superior to reactionary after-the-fact damage control. Employee well-being is critical to any company’s success. Therefore, invest properly in best practices for meeting workplace occupational safety and health (OSH). Look at compliance opportunity costs as an investment strategy; as insurance. But there is an art to developing and implementing a good OHS management system. Ask us to assess your current processes, goals and objectives and consult with you to help develop and implement improvements to yield less risk and greater productivity.

Conclusion

Workplace health and safety regulations and environmental regulations exist to protect well-being of workers as well as the environment in which we all live and work. Compliance is a natural cost of doing business. However, violating workplace safety or environmental regulations is not a natural or justifiable business cost. And yet violations of workplace safety and environmental regulations are seemingly commonplace and far too often newsworthy when egregious events occur. The common rationale behind corporate decisions to not comply with regulations is nearly always driven by cost. Some businesses would rather pay a calculated price for non-compliance (read: fines) rather than invest in long-term compliance because it is deemed less expensive. The reality is that sometimes fines cost less than capital investments to enact compliant processes. But this thinking neglects the accumulation of costs over time. Some businesses operate in that realm; where they avoid for a time large investment by continuing to pay regulatory fines that are perhaps thought of as nuisance costs and part of doing business. But this mindset actually reduces business opportunity and viability over time not to mention the possibility of criminal charges and even prison time for managers who knowingly violate regulations. Those who appreciate this aspect of environmental regulations in particular sometimes refer to it as the “be a manager go to jail” clause. There is similar exposure for employers who willfully expose employees to unsafe working conditions. But as business practices have evolved and have incorporated regulatory compliance into a best practices model, supply chain requirements are increasingly dictating the necessity of having effective management systems. For example, many businesses will only engage suppliers and vendors who can demonstrate a good regulatory compliance record and often then also verify certification with one or more EHS management systems. So besides obvious direct financial costs, failing to meet regulatory requirements can and does cancel business opportunities.

In our book, there is no substitute for compliance. Companies must do so regardless the degree of enforcement. That means that your management systems must be geared to naturally seek compliance and that your corporate culture is committed to meeting (or exceeding) occupational health and safety and environmental regulations. We are here to help you succeed by ensuring that you are able to meet regulatory requirements by seamlessly integrating those aspects into your management systems and corporate culture.

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