Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its decision to withdraw a proposed rule to amend its regulations for the federally funded On-site Consultation Program.
According to the Automotive Service Association (ASA), OSHA is withdrawing this rule based on concerns that the proposed changes would discourage employers from participating in the program. ASA has a number of members who use this program.
The notice of proposed rulemaking for 29 CFR 1908, consultation agreement, published Sept. 3, 2010, provided clarification of the length of the exemption period provided to “recognized” sites that have been removed from OSHA’s programmed inspection schedule and the initiation of certain unprogrammed inspections at both sites that have achieved recognition and sites undergoing a consultation visit.
ASA and other small-business organizations were concerned about the proposed changes. OSHA administers and funds the On-site Consultation Program, which offers free safety and health advice to small businesses, with priority given to high-hazard worksites.
Employers who successfully complete a comprehensive on-site consultation visit, correct all hazards identified during the visit and implement an ongoing safety and health program to identify and correct workplace hazards may achieve status in OSHA’s Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP).
Exemplary employers who receive SHARP status receive an exemption from OSHA’s programmed inspection schedule during a specified period.
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy sent a letter expressing concern about the proposed rule changes, on behalf of small-business groups, such as ASA. The SBA letter outlined the sentiments that OSHA’s proposed rule would change the criteria under which participants in OSHA’s “On-site Consultation” program could now be subject to enforcement inspections by OSHA and could discourage small business participation in the program.
ASA says it believes this is a valuable program for shop owners and would like to see the program continue as it is today. To view the proposed regulation and the letter sent by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, in its entirety, visit ASA’s legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.