Best of Success Seminar: Know How to Handle OSHA Inspections
Keven Yarbrough has a unique perspective on the roofing industry. He previously served as the assistant area director in the Tampa Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and he now offers assistance to contractors during OSHA inspections as the president of Yarbrough Safety Solutions, a safety consulting company headquartered in in Valrico, Fla. Yarbrough prides himself in his ability to guide employers through the maze of OSHA regulations, and he shared his insights with Best of Success attendees during a rollicking session titled “Top 10 Things You Must Know About OSHA.”
He offered the following tips for dealing with OSHA inspections:
1. Greet the compliance officer. A compliance officer should not be allowed to wander around freely on the jobsite, noted Yarbrough. “Everyone in your company should know how to greet a compliance officer and tell him what to do,” he said.
2. Develop a plan of protection. Contractors must have a written safety program and make sure everyone understands it. “Don’t include information in your safety program that is irrelevant,” Yarbrough advised. “Don’t have sections on trenching if there is not a shovel in the company. Keep it simple.”
3. It’s all about training and documentation. “You have to train your people,” he said. “And training isn’t enough — you have to document the training. Train your people on how to avoid a serious, serious accident. Forget about OSHA. Keep your people safe.”
4. Know your Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). “You can’t play the game unless you know the rules of the game,” Yarbrough said. “If you can’t read the regulations, hire someone that will read them and explain them to you.”
5. You have rights. “There are only two ways an OSHA inspector can get on your site: you invite him, or he has a warrant,” Yarbrough said. “You can deny OSHA access to the jobsite.”
The key is to know what you can and cannot do under the law. “If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any rights,” he said.
6. Be a copycat. While the inspection is in process, imitate the inspector. “Do what he does,” Yarbrough advised. “Document what he documents. If the compliance officer takes samples of dirt, take samples of dirt. Don’t be afraid to ask what he is doing and why.”
7. Argue with referees, not compliance officers. “Don’t argue with compliance officers,” Yarbrough said. “If you have a problem, just tell him you have a problem with him and ask for another compliance officer. Compliance officers are human. If you get a compliance officer angry, what type of day do you think you are you going to have? A long one.”
8. You’re never off the record. Everything employees say can go into a compliance officer’s report. “You’ve got to train your people to deal with compliance officers,” Yarbrough said. “No idle chatter.”
9. You don’t have to sign statements. “You do not ever want to sign a document prepared by an OSHA inspector,” Yarbrough said.
10. It’s an open-book test. There is no need to guess at an answer when an OSHA inspector asks a question, noted Yarbrough. “They are going to ask you questions, but it’s an open-book test,” he said. “You can say, ‘Give me a minute to check my safety manual.’ Don’t play gotcha with a compliance officer.”