OT-Sidestepping OSHA This Week

I was at a customer's today that makes large fiberglass tubing and flanges, up to 36in. in diameter and larger. The fumes and dust is usually atrocious
but I noticed that the plant seemed almost empty of people and only 3 or 4 people were working on making pipe, usually this plant has more than 30 people busily mixing resins and grinding on flanges, gluing pipe, etc. The owner had a meeting last week and scheduled the bulk of people to be at the sub-plant down the street (that OSHA doesn't know about) and cut production down to %15 of the norm for the duration of OSHA's visit. A huge cleanup of the plant ensued, mopping and washing, hiding buckets of materials, etc. I couldn't believe the difference. So OSHA shows up this week and has no idea what the real working conditions are. They make a few employees wear air quality sensors as they perform their inspection, but it'll prove nothing about "normal" working conditions. The older employees were upset as they know the conditions are unhealthy and would like the plant conditions improved but are afraid to say anything. The younger employees seemed to think it was cool fooling "the man" and being in on the scam.
Is this unusual for a plant to fool an organization that's purpose is to protect the working man?
Bart
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Bart wrote:

Depends....on a LOT of factors
OSHA inspectors can be anything from helpful to outright nutcases who try and nail you for a speck of dust out of place. If you've been burned in the past by the stupid end of things, I would expect a plant to try and hide the truth to save the hassle. At our main plant, we've been slightly nailed on things that should have been done years ago like welding screens but also nailed for stupid stuff..so stupid I can't even remember specifics. We never tried to hide it though (other than a quick clean-up). Often it's better to make sure you have at least one obvious problem because the inspector writes you up and leaves without nit-picking until they find something to complain about.
We DO go through and make sure things that have gotten out of whack get back into order before the yearly fire inspection. I guess that's not quite the same as "hiding" the real conditions.
However, your description of the plant implies that it was a scam to NOT get nailed for really hazardous working conditions. The youngsters probably still have their "invinceable" genes intact and feel that bad is better (more macho) where the oldsters are just lucky to not be knocking on doors for another job. Unfortunately, a bad employer like this is exactly why there is an OSHA. Not "perfect" is one thing but breathing in glass fibers all day is NOT a healthy work environment. The employees probably have 2 choices....fink and the place closes down because the boss doesn't want to spend the money to be safe, or quit and leave the other guys to fend for themselves. Neither is good.
Oh yea..OSHA is not there to "protect the working man" as you said. Their job is to LOOK like they are there to protect the working man and be able to blame someone else (other then their own laxness) if an accident happens. I don't have proof of this, just an opinion....backed up by the incinsistencency of inspections from one plant to another.
As has been said about the US Forest Service: "Our appearence of careful management is really the careful management of appearances"
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No, this is not unusual at 'announced' inspections. A dime drop or two though, can get an 'unannounced' inspection.
--
Anthony

You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
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Typical Senario:
Osha rep shows up. The floor is notified along with plant manager and safety director. A quick clean up on floor takes place as greetings and chatting take place in the front office.
Floor supervisors are frantically making sure anything they think is iffy is shut down. Safety glasses, ear plugs, yada suddenly are required. Office people w/o steel toe shoe stay in their offices.
Panel boxes that are open to cool over heated electronics are closed. The fan that was blowing in is moved out of area.
A certain amount of normal activity stops, just in case.
I could go on....
Wes
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