There is a very common misconception among business owners and managers that their Workman’s Compensation insurance provider’s loss control services will address all of their company’s OSHA health & safety compliance requirements. Although it’s true that these loss control services are valuable and should be utilized to help prevent workplace accidents, they fall far short of ensuring that the insured business is OSHA compliant.
1) State Laws Don’t Require That WC Loss Control Services Provide OSHA Health & Safety Compliance:
According to the Texas Department of Insurance (Regulator of WC providers) Pursuant to Labor Code §411.061 and §411.068(a)(1), an insurance company writing workers’ compensation insurance in Texas shall maintain or provide accident prevention facilities that are adequate to provide accident prevention services required by the natureof its policyholders’ operations, and must include services such as surveys, recommendations, training programs, etc.
Notice that this requirement SAYS NOTHING ABOUT ENSURING OSHA COMPLIANCE for the insured, nor does it imply this.
2) State laws typically only require one loss control visit per year, per insured, depending on size and nature of the business, premium size, past losses, etc.
3) Limited Time and Resources:
Insurance loss control departments and consultants simply aren’t resourced to provide, let alone manage, all of OSHA’s mandated compliance requirements on behalf of their insured customers. It’s not uncommon for a single loss control consultant to be responsible for a 500 mile radius area, with literally hundreds of insured clients within their region. As a result, they simply don’t have the time to provide any sort of reasonable OSHA compliance program. And again, nor are they required to!
As one loss control consultant explained it to me at a recent conference, “we are interested in meeting Texas Department of Insurance injury prevention requirements and protecting our policies from injury related losses, and that’s it. And that’s very different from providing OSHA compliance services.”
More about employer mandated OSHA health and safety requirements:
OSHA has many requirements that employers must meet in order to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. These requirements are too numerous to list here but for the purposes of this discussion can be boiled down to 4 basic things:
1) Development and implementation of formal and customized OSHA safety programs to address all hazards present at a given workplace. Note the word “customized” which means that the programs must be created to address the unique job specific hazards present at a given facility or worksite. Generic/template programs don’t normally meet this requirement. (Examples include Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) programs and procedures for energized equipment, Personal Protection Equipment-PPE, Hazardous Communication, Emergency Response, Workplace Violence, etc.)
2) Provide ongoing, customized and job specific safety training to employees and contractors (Examples include orientation training for new employees, contractor training, formal OSHA program training, tailgate training, etc..)
3) Continuous monitoring and correction of workplace health & safety hazards through inspections and audits.
4) Record keeping requirements (Examples include OSHA 300 logs, training records, job hazard assessments, etc.)
And the list goes on and on. And these requirements must be maintained on an ONGOING basis by the employer.
Just ask your insurance company’s loss control consultant to do any of the following and see what sort of response you get:
- Provide customized safety training to your employees to meet OSHA program requirements (examples: Fall Protection, Hazardous Communication, Lockout/Tagout). And not just one training session, but ongoing training as required by OSHA.
- Write a Lockout/Tagout program and customized procedures for each piece of energized equipment/machinery at your facility.
- Perform monthly facility or job site health & safety inspections, including recommendations for corrective action.
- Complete a Job Hazard Assessment (JHA) for each work task in your company, to meet OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard requirements.
- Maintain and complete your OSHA 300 logs.
Also keep in mind that the level of service can vary widely between providers and often boils down to the knowledge, skill and commitment from the loss control consultant assigned to the account. Service level can also be heavily impacted by the size of the company, annual premium, hazardous nature of the business, and past losses. In other words, those companies ranking high in all areas typically get more service and attention than others. But smaller companies rarely get anything more than a once per year visit, maybe an inspection, and limited recommendations. If you specifically ask for things like OSHA programs, they can provide very generic templates and sometimes even basic training sessions. But again, keep in mind that OSHA requires customized programs and training that are specific to your companies’ activities.
I have had several loss control consultants assigned to me for my other businesses over the past 8 years. Some were good and helpful, while others not nearly as much. But even the best ones appeared only once a year for an hour or so, made some recommendations, showed me their on-line safety resources or catalog of training DVDs that we had free access to, but never returned again. In other words, my companies and I would have been in serious trouble if we had relied entirely on them to manage our safety compliance requirements.
So don’t make the mistake of believing that your workers comp carrier can cover all of your OSHA health & safety compliance requirements. It just isn’t true.
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