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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default Diary Of An OSHA Inspector

    I get regular safety msg emails from SafetyXChange, and this is one of the latest stories from todays installation:

    DIARY OF AN OSHA INSPECTOR

    The Tale of Window Dressing

    By Nick O'Shay, OSHA CSHO

    NOVEMBER 21, 2005:
    Some companies just don't get it. They know they gotta train workers. They also know that us OSHA inspectors are gonna want to see proof that they delivered the right training.

    But here's where they screw up. Instead of hard and specific documentation, they got nothing to show us but a bunch of window dressing. So we got no choice but to hit them with a citation.

    What happened today is just typical. Maybe if I tell you what these guys did wrong, you won't make the same mistake.

    9:28 A.M.
    I'm on my third donut. I should be counting the calories but, hey, this is Bavarian Crème. The guilt quickly passes. But just as I'm getting set to dive into Bavarian Bliss, the bloody beeper goes off.

    "This better be good, Donna." [Editor's Note: You may remember from last time that Donna Tellow is Nick's Associate Area Director, or immediate supervisor.]

    "Oh it's good, all right. There's just been an incident at the Deare John Tractor Plant."

    News like this kills my appetite. "Geez, Donna. What happened?"

    "A fall."

    "How bad?"

    "He'll live. But we're talking broken bones. I want you to get over to that plant and give it the white glove treatment."

    "I'm on my way, Donna."

    12:25
    "Sir, a Nick O'Shay from the Department of Homeland Security is here to see you."

    "Occupational Safety & Health Administration," I correct the receptionist.

    "Sorry, sir, he says he's from the Health Department," she tells her boss.

    "Just tell him it's the OSHA guy," I suggest.

    She complies and announces "Mr. Wiley will see you right away." She's waiting for me to fall to my knees in gratitude - like St. Peter's has just opened the pearly gates. I just grunt and make my way into the suit's suite.

    "Will Wiley," he holds out his hand with a phony grin. "I've asked our company safety representative, Allen Wrench, to show you around the place."

    Oh, he's a real cutie, this one. Companies have a right to have one or more representative accompany OSHA inspectors. In fact, we gotta ask them if they want one. These reps look over our shoulder and make notes of what we do. Trained right, a good rep can spot an error and make a record that companies can use to get a case thrown out.

    This guy is making it sound like the rep is doing me a favor.

    12:47
    We've gone through the formalities and are holding the opening conference. Wrench is telling me what he thinks happened. The victim's name is Sam Diego. 34. On the job just three months. I'm getting the feeling that he might not be too fluent in English.

    "I wasn't there but Mr. Diego's supervisor tells me that Mr. Diego fell about 28 feet from a scaffold while doing maintenance work on a venting duct," Wrench says.

    "Was he wearing fall arrest equipment," I ask.

    "Well, yeah, he had a harness - the whole nine yards. But he didn't have his lanyard tied off."

    A light goes off in my brain. Bad English. New guy. Right equipment. Improper use. Sounds like a Cool Hand, Luke situation. You know that movie where the prison guard says to the prisoners "What we got here, gentlemen, is a failure to communicate."

    "Where is Mr. Diego now?"

    "He was taken to the ER for treatment right after the accident," Wrench tells me. "Still no word on his condition."

    "All right. Then take me to the scene."

    2:07
    I've photographed the accident scene and made all my measurements and observations. Now I want to talk to Diego's supervisor. The supervisor confirms Wrench's story. Diego fell from a scaffold, was wearing a harness but hadn't secured the lanyard.

    "Is English Mr. Diego's native language," I ask.

    The supervisor chuckles and rolls his eyes. I know what he's thinking and my case is coming together. "No, he's from Santo Domingo. Nice guy but his English isn't great."

    This is too easy. "Did Mr. Diego receive training in the proper use of fall protection equipment?"

    "Absolutely. Every worker gets a full course on fall protection and PPE when they start," he beams. "When they get done, we give them a copy of this."

    He hands me a manual about the dangers of working at heights and everything you'd ever want to know about fall protection equipment. Somebody obviously paid a pretty penny for this fine bit of technical work.

    I play along.

    "Nice manual. You got proof that Diego took these courses and got this manual?"

    "Absolutely, Mr. O'Shay." It's Wrench, the employer representative. He's been sitting in on the interview, which is his right. Now he pulls a piece of paper out of a file folder and hands it to me. It's an attendance sheet for a course on fall protection signed and dated by Diego.

    "What about the manual?"

    Wrench gives me a second sheet - an acknowledgement of receiving the manual signed by Diego.

    "How do you know he understood any of this?"

    With a trace of a smile that borders on a smirk, Wrench says, "Please, Mr. O'Shay. Would you be kind enough to read the bottom line of each form."

    "Sure," I say. "'I hereby acknowledge that I have read and completely understood the foregoing material . . .'" It's signed "Sam Diego."

    I move in for the kill.

    "Very impressive, Mr. Wrench. The manual you gave to Mr. Diego was, I assume, a Spanish translation?"

    "Well, not exactly. . ." I see the confidence disappear from Wrench's face. I live for these moments.

    "How about those training courses. Were they in Spanish?"

    "No."

    "Then how do you know Mr. Diego really understood any of this stuff?"

    "He, he signed the forms," Wrench responds in desperation.

    "And. . .?"

    "And what, Mr. O'Shay?"

    "Let me repeat the question. Can you prove he really understood the training."

    The Aftermath

    Sure enough, interviews with co-workers and Diego himself confirm that Diego had no idea how to properly use fall protection equipment. Most of the training went over his head. And the manual was so technical that even a fluent English speaker would have had trouble understanding it.

    I issued the company a citation for violating OSHA fall protection and training standards. A month later, the company paid an $80,000 fine.

    The Moral

    We OSHA inspectors aren't stupid. If an accident happens we're gonna ask for proof not just that training was provided but that it was understood. I mean solid proof. A signed attendance sheet and acknowledgement of understanding won't cut it. That stuff is just window dressing. We're going to want something more meaningful like:

    Post-training quizes;
    Post-training observations and evaluations documenting that lessons were actually applied; and
    Follow-up training.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and remember. I'll be watching you.

    Nick O'Shay
    OSHA Inspector

    The Canadian Perspective

    Most of what Nick relates applies equally in Canada. The one exception: The right to have one of your representatives accompany an OHS inspector isn't assured in Canada like it is in the US. It varies from province to province.

    'GOT A CASE FOR NICK?

    Have you or anybody you know had a real-life encounter with an OSHA or OHS inspector that might work for a Nick O'Shay story? Send it to glennd@bongarde.com.


    Sadly this type of conversation happens way too often.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Default

    Good article Rick.

    We have recently gone to a computer based software system for our core OH&S training. It finally includes an electronic quiz for each module that the employee must complete with 100% accuracy before being approved. If the employee gets a questions wrong, the quiz takes them back to the peice of information to review, and then asks the question again. It is still only part of the program, and the practical element is still the most important, but it is a much better option to the old "read this" - "sign here" form of training.

    Unfortuantely, even the best tools in the world won't help if the organization and it's management don't buy in. That is the real challenge.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7
    I get regular safety msg emails from SafetyXChange, and this is one of the latest stories from todays installation:

    DIARY OF AN OSHA INSPECTOR

    The Tale of Window Dressing

    By Nick O'Shay, OSHA CSHO

    NOVEMBER 21, 2005:
    Some companies just don't get it. They know they gotta train workers. They also know that us OSHA inspectors are gonna want to see proof that they delivered the right training.

    But here's where they screw up. Instead of hard and specific documentation, they got nothing to show us but a bunch of window dressing. So we got no choice but to hit them with a citation.

    What happened today is just typical. Maybe if I tell you what these guys did wrong, you won't make the same mistake.

    9:28 A.M.
    I'm on my third donut. I should be counting the calories but, hey, this is Bavarian Crème. The guilt quickly passes. But just as I'm getting set to dive into Bavarian Bliss, the bloody beeper goes off.

    "This better be good, Donna." [Editor's Note: You may remember from last time that Donna Tellow is Nick's Associate Area Director, or immediate supervisor.]

    "Oh it's good, all right. There's just been an incident at the Deare John Tractor Plant."

    News like this kills my appetite. "Geez, Donna. What happened?"

    "A fall."

    "How bad?"

    "He'll live. But we're talking broken bones. I want you to get over to that plant and give it the white glove treatment."

    "I'm on my way, Donna."

    12:25
    "Sir, a Nick O'Shay from the Department of Homeland Security is here to see you."

    "Occupational Safety & Health Administration," I correct the receptionist.

    "Sorry, sir, he says he's from the Health Department," she tells her boss.

    "Just tell him it's the OSHA guy," I suggest.

    She complies and announces "Mr. Wiley will see you right away." She's waiting for me to fall to my knees in gratitude - like St. Peter's has just opened the pearly gates. I just grunt and make my way into the suit's suite.

    "Will Wiley," he holds out his hand with a phony grin. "I've asked our company safety representative, Allen Wrench, to show you around the place."

    Oh, he's a real cutie, this one. Companies have a right to have one or more representative accompany OSHA inspectors. In fact, we gotta ask them if they want one. These reps look over our shoulder and make notes of what we do. Trained right, a good rep can spot an error and make a record that companies can use to get a case thrown out.

    This guy is making it sound like the rep is doing me a favor.

    12:47
    We've gone through the formalities and are holding the opening conference. Wrench is telling me what he thinks happened. The victim's name is Sam Diego. 34. On the job just three months. I'm getting the feeling that he might not be too fluent in English.

    "I wasn't there but Mr. Diego's supervisor tells me that Mr. Diego fell about 28 feet from a scaffold while doing maintenance work on a venting duct," Wrench says.

    "Was he wearing fall arrest equipment," I ask.

    "Well, yeah, he had a harness - the whole nine yards. But he didn't have his lanyard tied off."

    A light goes off in my brain. Bad English. New guy. Right equipment. Improper use. Sounds like a Cool Hand, Luke situation. You know that movie where the prison guard says to the prisoners "What we got here, gentlemen, is a failure to communicate."

    "Where is Mr. Diego now?"

    "He was taken to the ER for treatment right after the accident," Wrench tells me. "Still no word on his condition."

    "All right. Then take me to the scene."

    2:07
    I've photographed the accident scene and made all my measurements and observations. Now I want to talk to Diego's supervisor. The supervisor confirms Wrench's story. Diego fell from a scaffold, was wearing a harness but hadn't secured the lanyard.

    "Is English Mr. Diego's native language," I ask.

    The supervisor chuckles and rolls his eyes. I know what he's thinking and my case is coming together. "No, he's from Santo Domingo. Nice guy but his English isn't great."

    This is too easy. "Did Mr. Diego receive training in the proper use of fall protection equipment?"

    "Absolutely. Every worker gets a full course on fall protection and PPE when they start," he beams. "When they get done, we give them a copy of this."

    He hands me a manual about the dangers of working at heights and everything you'd ever want to know about fall protection equipment. Somebody obviously paid a pretty penny for this fine bit of technical work.

    I play along.

    "Nice manual. You got proof that Diego took these courses and got this manual?"

    "Absolutely, Mr. O'Shay." It's Wrench, the employer representative. He's been sitting in on the interview, which is his right. Now he pulls a piece of paper out of a file folder and hands it to me. It's an attendance sheet for a course on fall protection signed and dated by Diego.

    "What about the manual?"

    Wrench gives me a second sheet - an acknowledgement of receiving the manual signed by Diego.

    "How do you know he understood any of this?"

    With a trace of a smile that borders on a smirk, Wrench says, "Please, Mr. O'Shay. Would you be kind enough to read the bottom line of each form."

    "Sure," I say. "'I hereby acknowledge that I have read and completely understood the foregoing material . . .'" It's signed "Sam Diego."

    I move in for the kill.

    "Very impressive, Mr. Wrench. The manual you gave to Mr. Diego was, I assume, a Spanish translation?"

    "Well, not exactly. . ." I see the confidence disappear from Wrench's face. I live for these moments.

    "How about those training courses. Were they in Spanish?"

    "No."

    "Then how do you know Mr. Diego really understood any of this stuff?"

    "He, he signed the forms," Wrench responds in desperation.

    "And. . .?"

    "And what, Mr. O'Shay?"

    "Let me repeat the question. Can you prove he really understood the training."

    The Aftermath

    Sure enough, interviews with co-workers and Diego himself confirm that Diego had no idea how to properly use fall protection equipment. Most of the training went over his head. And the manual was so technical that even a fluent English speaker would have had trouble understanding it.

    I issued the company a citation for violating OSHA fall protection and training standards. A month later, the company paid an $80,000 fine.

    The Moral

    We OSHA inspectors aren't stupid. If an accident happens we're gonna ask for proof not just that training was provided but that it was understood. I mean solid proof. A signed attendance sheet and acknowledgement of understanding won't cut it. That stuff is just window dressing. We're going to want something more meaningful like:

    Post-training quizes;
    Post-training observations and evaluations documenting that lessons were actually applied; and
    Follow-up training.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and remember. I'll be watching you.

    Nick O'Shay
    OSHA Inspector

    The Canadian Perspective

    Most of what Nick relates applies equally in Canada. The one exception: The right to have one of your representatives accompany an OHS inspector isn't assured in Canada like it is in the US. It varies from province to province.

    'GOT A CASE FOR NICK?

    Have you or anybody you know had a real-life encounter with an OSHA or OHS inspector that might work for a Nick O'Shay story? Send it to glennd@bongarde.com.


    Sadly this type of conversation happens way too often.
    Hey, Rick:
    I subscribe to this where I work. They got some good stuff.
    I liked the picture of the endloader with the ladder in it, too.
    I work closely with OSHA where I work. Most of the time, they have been very helpful. Some of them even have a sense of humor.
    But there's been a very few who were very "stiff" to say the least.
    OSHA isn't a town in Wisconsin!
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason
    Hey, Rick:
    I subscribe to this where I work. They got some good stuff.
    I liked the picture of the endloader with the ladder in it, too.
    CR
    I have that one in my new staff safety orientation.

    This one is still my favorite though.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason
    Hey, Rick:
    I subscribe to this where I work. They got some good stuff.
    I liked the picture of the endloader with the ladder in it, too.
    I work closely with OSHA where I work. Most of the time, they have been very helpful. Some of them even have a sense of humor.
    But there's been a very few who were very "stiff" to say the least.
    OSHA isn't a town in Wisconsin!
    CR
    I wonder if there is a guy named Ken, that works for OSHA, and lives in Kenosha...
    -Bozz

    Air Force Medic

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    These guys have some great articles for sure. I still kinda liked it when I received the Bonguard newletter, because it always had a "Hey Cletus, watch this" story. Thats where I saw the above photo the first time, which included an A-frame ladder leaning against a power pole, with some dork doing electrical work on the line. Or the step ladder at the 3 foot mark of a swimming pool (filled) changing something electrical.

    And ya, sometimes the Inspectors do have a bit of a sense of humour. Sometimes....
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  7. #7
    Forum Member firemanpat29's Avatar
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    I love this pic
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    DATS DA ONE! (and notice too, he is soaked from the hips down?)
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  9. #9
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!
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    Question hmmmmmmmmm

    Do ya think there might be some alcohol involved? Check out all the bottles!
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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