Are You REALLY Prepared for a COVID-19 Safety Inspection?
Each morning when I open my email, there are messages telling me “NAME YOUR STATE cites 19 (often a higher number) businesses, totaling $51,400 (again, often a higher number) in penalties, for COVID-19 workplace safety violations.” That is an average penalty of $2,700 per company! So, again I ask you, are you truly prepared if a safety inspector walks in?
Yes, there are differences in what states, and often, municipalities, are asking businesses to do, but there are enough similarities. The violations cited sound like a broken record: failure to require face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained, failure to train employees on COVID-19, failure to maintain social distancing where possible. And, in certain states, failure to have a preparedness plan in place.
And, why are businesses getting inspected? Two words: employee complaints. If an employee contacts the state or federal safety agency and states that there are no requirements in place for wearing face masks, then guess who shows up… Yes, you guessed it, your safety inspector. What we find interesting is that a recent accident in a print shop involving an amputation generated a letter response from OSHA. You are not providing face masks, or proper social distancing, and the inspector shows up at your door. Are you prepared?
If you are operating in Virginia or Oregon – you need to make sure that you have your formal program in place. These two states have adopted temporary emergency safety standards requiring employers to implement more formal programs. And, California is on the cusp of proposing its own standard governing exposures to COVID-19 in the workplace.
We at the PRINTING United Alliance have been opposing the adoption of these temporary safety standards, as we believe the agencies already have all the necessary standards in place to cover workplace exposures to the virus. So what is a printing facility to do?
First, check your state’s safety agency website or Department of Health website to gain a clearer understanding of what your state is requiring. Often, there is a requirement to post signs, develop policies, etc. Then, download our COVID-19 Prepardness and Response Plan. We developed this with you in mind, and it contains policies and programs that you can immediately implement in your facility.
Still have questions, contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees are not afraid to speak out if they see a problem. Take time to now make sure your safe work practices include special attention to exposures to COVID-19 in the workplace. It is worth the time to save the potential fine. That is unless you have $2,700 to throw down the drain…
Marcia Kinter is the Vice President, Government & Regulatory Affairs at PRINTING United Alliance. Ms. Kinter oversees the development of resources for the Association addressing environmental, safety & health, and sustainability issues. She represents the printing industry, as well as their associated supplier base, before federal and state regulatory agencies on environmental, safety and other government issues directly impacting the printing industry.
In 2008, Kinter, in conjunction with colleagues from other printing trade associations, was instrumental in launching the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership program. The SGP Program is a registry system for printing facilities that includes third party verification. The program successfully launched as an independent organization in August 2008.
Kinter is a member of and serves as Secretary for the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. In 2001, Kinter received the William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award for significant advancement of environmental awareness in the graphic arts industry.
Before joining PRINTING United Alliance, Kinter worked for The American Waterways Operators, Inc., the national association for the barge and towing industry.
She holds bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University.