Last week, we outlined that OSHA’s proposed appropriations language revisions for FY 2017 may signal increased inspections, particularly PSM audits, for certain employers in Region 6, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.  Employers have an opportunity to get and stay prepared now for this possible inspection glut.  To that end, over the next several weeks, we are outlining some tips for employers to consider and implement.  This is the second segment of that five-part series.

Be proactive in training and coaching employees in workplace safety.

As we outlined last week, an employer’s regular review, update, and revision of written policies, procedures, and safety information is a necessary first step to ensuring its employees are educated about workplace safety.  But employees need—and employers are required to provide—further instruction in the form of ongoing training.  The PSM standard, for example, requires initial training for the operation of new processes and refresher training at least every 3 years, unless a more frequent schedule is necessary.  See, e.g.29 C.F.R. §§ 1910.119(g)(1), (g)(2).  This training is in addition to what must be provided to contract workers and those employees involved in the maintenance of process equipment.  See, e.g.29 C.F.R. §§ 1910.119(h)(3)(iii), (j)(3).

Importantly, during an inspection, an OSHA compliance officer or industrial hygienist will often request documentation of the training provided to employees on the particular process or procedure involved.  At a minimum, employers covered by the PSM regulations should document the training by recording the names of the employees who were trained, the date the training was provided, and the means by which the employer verified that the employees understood the training.  See 29 C.F.R. § 1910.119(g)(3).  And best practices may require the documentation of additional information as well.  The training documentation required under the PSM standard should be retained for at least 3 years by the employers covered by the standard.  See 29 C.F.R. § 1910.119(g)(2).  There may be other training requirements and considerations inside and outside of the PSM standard that an attorney can help employers navigate.

Just as with proper advance review of safety policies and procedures, adequate training and retention of related documentation will ensure that employees understand safety in the workplace and that employers are ready for OSHA inspections.  This is another win-win for employers.

Recap.  To summarize the tips we have outlined in the previous weeks, employers should:

  1. Review, revise, and update safety policies, procedures, and safety information.
  2. Be proactive in training and coaching employees in workplace safety.