Late one night I was returning home on a narrow, winding, two lane road through farm country. It was rainy and the fog was thick, making it hard to see. Abruptly, there in my headlights, was what I believed to be a very large pig. Unable to avoid him I felt a sickening thud. I immediately pulled over, but couldn’t see anything. There was nobody else around and the weather was nasty, so I continued home. Shortly after getting on my slippers, there was a knock on the door. Who could it be this late at night? I opened the door and there stood two uniformed state Police Officers. They questioned me and wanted to know if I had traveled on state highway 21 tonight, and did I drive a red SUV. I had to admit that I did. “Sir” he said “we’re going to have to cite you for leaving the scene.” Curiosity got the best of me; I just had to know how they knew. The officer looked me in the eye “Well” he said “the pig squealed.”
So if you are an employee and you see and unsafe situation or something you feel crosses the line in violation of OSHA requirements, or general safety, do you know the correct protocol for reporting it? Of course if there is imminent danger to life etc., then you need to get help immediately! If not, then your company should have a line of progression or protocol for reporting issues whether it be machine guarding, environmental, trenching, confined space, and on and on. Talk to your HHS Person and volunteer to help. Take a course in “Process Safety Management.”
So what if no one is paying attention? Or just doesn’t care. We see that in the OSHA News and fines every month. Now what? Call your OSHA Representative 800-321-OSHA. You are not the pig that squealed. You could be saving a life!! This is your responsibility! Further “Whistle Blowers” are protected not just in our industry but in our country in general. Don’t be afraid to get involved. You are also protected from retaliation. Know what your rights are under the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”. Recently OSHA Trade News announced the final rule on procedures for handling retaliation complaints.
Remember OSHA’s General Duty clause: Each Employer must furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.