Safety Awakening – “What” Is Right Trumps “Who” Is Right

November 7, 2014 No Comments

“What” Is Right Trumps “Who” Is Right

In my 40-year safety career, I’ve had many interactions with OSHA inspectors.  Also, for five years I worked for a division of OSHA and performed hundreds of inspections. One thing I learned from these experiences was that OSHA inspectors are not perfect – they sometimes make the wrong call.

A few years ago, the company that I worked at was inspected by an OSHA inspector who was a former librarian.  She had recently left the library to work for OSHA.  I met her when she visited my company to investigate a complaint involving one of our huge production machines (as big as a house).  When inspecting this machine she didn’t have a clue what it did or how it worked. None-the-less, she declared it safe and in compliance with OSHA standards, even though it had some serious hazards and numerous OSHA violations.

When it comes to the enforcement of safety regulations, it does not matter “who” is right, what really matters is “what” is right!  The safety standard itself is what is right, regardless of what the inspector says.  When there’s a discrepancy between what the inspector says and what the standard says – the standard usually wins (i.e. “what is right” trumps “who is right”).



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