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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.
March 1, 1999
Mr. Alan Goldfarb
Alan Goldfarb Consultants, Inc.
103 Echo Hill Drive
Stamford, CT 06903
Dear Mr. Goldfarb,
This is in response to your letter dated January 2, 1999, addressed to Mr. Charles Jeffress, Assistant Secretary, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), regarding the options that small business owners have relating to their employees' safety and hazard protection while at work. We apologize for the delay in getting this response to you. In your letter you make several points alluding to the difficulties that a small business owner may have in hiring a specialized safety professional or in finding the proper expertise on safety and health issues, so that their workplaces are safe and in compliance with OSHA regulations.
In 1995, Congress passed the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), which requires all Federal agencies who regulate small businesses to provide guidance and compliance assistance and have penalty relief programs in place. Federal regulatory agencies must have a program in effect that is able to answer inquiries by small entities concerning information on, and advice about, compliance with statutes and regulations. OSHA's response to the SBREFA regulation is discussed in OSHA Instruction CPL 2-0.121, "Providing Assistance to Smaller Employers." This directive, along with other related information, is available for your perusal on OSHA's Internet website located at: http://www.osha.gov.
Foremost among OSHA programs to address the needs of small employers is the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. OSHA Consultation is a broad network of occupational safety and health services funded primarily by Federal OSHA, but delivered by all 50 state governments, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These programs offer the expertise of highly qualified occupational safety and health professionals to employers who request help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. This program is explained in the OSHA's Publication: OSHA 3047, Consultation Services for the Employer, a copy of which is enclosed. The OSHA Consultation assistance service is free to employers upon request. It is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses (those with 250 employees or fewer) in high-hazard industries or those involved in especially hazardous operations. OSHA consultants assist smaller employers in interpreting complex federal and state safety and health standards, as well as helping employers create their own workplace safety and health programs. The consultation program is a confidential service. The results of an OSHA consultation visit are not shared with OSHA enforcement offices, unless an employer fails or refuses to eliminate or control a serious hazard which has been identified to exist in their workplace.
A full range of consultation services is available in all states. OSHA encourages employers to request what is known as "full service consultation." The full service consultation covers all working conditions and includes assistance in establishing effective workplace safety and health programs, with an emphasis on preventing worker injuries and illnesses. Assistance may also include training and education for the employer and his or her employees and supervisors as well. Limited service consultation is also available, in which the consultant focuses on more specific workplace problems or specific issues or hazardous processes relating to a particular business. The employer with a 3-10 person auto body shop, as you indicate in your letter, could benefit greatly from requesting an OSHA on-site consultation visit. Doing so would enable such an employer to get into full compliance with OSHA standards. Employers who work voluntarily with an OSHA consultant receive help in identifying and correcting workplace hazards, providing training as needed, and in developing or maintaining an effective safety and health program.
For your information, the Consultation program for the state of Connecticut is run by:
The Connecticut Division of Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA Consultation Project
Connecticut Department of Labor
38 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Phone: (860) 566-4550
Fax: (860) 566-6916
We hope this information is useful to you. If you need further assistance regarding this matter, please feel free to call the office of Connecticut's Consultation Program, listed above, or OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax
Directorate of Compliance Programs