MIOSHA Consulting Services for Small Business
Many small businesses have limited resources and access to expertise to assist in complying with the many Health & Safety regulations that are a part of today’s business environment. This does not alleviate your responsibilities to comply with existing regulations. In fact, this probably leaves small business more vulnerable to liabilities resulting from injuries and occupational hazards than large companies with full time staff devoted to addressing these issues.
In the State of Michigan, small business have free help available to assist them in becoming compliant with OSHA requirements through the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) Consultation Education & Training Division. The following article written by Eric Zaban, Senior Industrial Hygienist, Consultation Education & Training Division, provides an update on the part of MIOSHA’s strategic plan dealing with reducing Noise Induced Hearing Loss for Michigan workers.
Hearing Health as a Priority in the State of Michigan
By Eric Zaban, CIH
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has included the goal of reducing the incidence of Noise Induced Hearing Loss for Michigan worker’s in its strategic plan. Through enforcement, outreach, and consultation services, MIOSHA offers resources to help employers implement and administer hearing conservation programs. Targeted industries include (major SIC groups):
• 25 Furniture and Fixtures
• 33 Primary Metal
• 34 Fabricated Metal
• 35 Industrial Machinery
• 37 Transportation Equipment
Scheduled occupation health inspections are conducted in these establishments to determine compliance with the noise rules. In addition, when compliance industrial hygienists respond to employee complaints in these industries, compliance with the noise rules is investigated regardless of whether it was a complaint issue.
MIOSHA’s Consultation Education and Training Division’s two main consultation programs regularly perform noise-training sessions and sound exposure monitoring. For example, in fiscal year 2004:
Five (23g) or “Traditional” industrial hygienists performed 56 training seminars or workshops where the health effects of noise and hearing protection use were discussed. Fourteen (14) noise surveys were also performed.
Six (21d) or “On-Site” industrial hygienists performed 75 hazard surveys where compliance with the noise rules was included in the scope the health hazard survey. Twelve (12) training and assistance visits were also performed.
Project SENSOR (Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks) is a federally funded grant to assist Michigan in conducting patient and work place follow up based on the approximately 15,000 to 20,000 occupational disease reports received each year at Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG). The SENSOR project uses occupational disease reports to target evaluation and intervention strategies that are effective in identifying work places in Michigan with problems.
The occupational and environmental health team at Michigan State University under the direction of Kenneth Rosenman, M.D., is under contract to DLEG to administer the occupational disease reporting and surveillance program. Interviews of patients with noise-induced hearing loss are conducted routinely conducted to determine the patient's work history. A MIOSHA enforcement inspection may then be conducted to determine current conditions and exposures at the facility where the patient developed their illness. For example, in 2003 and 2004 MIOSHA conducted twenty compliance inspections as a result of referrals from the SENSOR team. For more information see the Michigan SENSOR Project website, http://www.chm.msu.edu/oem/
MIOSHA is interested in assisting employers with preventing hearing loss. For guidance on administering hearing conservation programs, several handouts are available at our website, www.michigan.gov/miosha. For on-site assistance call (517) 322–1809.
Free help for small business:
By using a free consultation service largely funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers can find out about occupational hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational safety and health management systems, and even qualify for an exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. No citations are issued or penalties proposed. The findings are confidential, with the exception of exposure monitoring data, which must be shared with affected employees.
Employers using the on-site service are required to correct serious safety and health hazards identified and a list of serious hazards must be prominently posted in the workplace.
On-site consultants, consisting of safety officers or industrial hygienists, mimic an OSHA compliance investigation. Industrial hygienists often perform personal exposure monitoring for air contamination and noise. After the opening conference, a walkthrough and review of written programs, a closing conference is performed. Following the closing conference, the consultant will send you a detailed written report explaining the findings and confirming any abatement periods agreed upon. Consultants may also contact you from time to time to check your progress.
In Michigan, employers can contact MIOSHA at (517) 322-1809 to request onsite help. Elsewhere, employers can find help by visiting http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/index.html
For consultation in other states please contact your OSHA state branch. State websites can be found at http///www.osha.gov/oshdir/consult.html
Eric Zaban is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and is currently working as Senior Industrial Hygienist for the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) Consultation Education & Training Division. For more information contact Eric at (517) 322-6986 Ext. 80229 or email@example.com
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