Non-compliance in NMI not alarming, says OSHA

THERE are companies in the CNMI that are not complying with U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration rules and regulations, but such violations have not reached an alarming level, U.S. Department of Labor-San Francisco regional office public affairs director Leo Kay told Variety in an email interview.

“Past and present OSHA inspections indicate that it is still manageable,” he added.

Kay said OSHA tools are available to companies at no cost which include but are not limited to health and safety information available in the worker’s native language.

These include a video on YouTube to alert workers to potential hazards in their specific line of work; health and safety program plans that companies can download and tailor to their needs; outreach OSHA training venues via internet or classroom; and “safety pays” programs, he added.

Earlier this month, an OSHA officer was here to investigate the accident at a Commonwealth Utilities Corp. sewer-lift-station project which claimed the lives of three USA Fanter workers.

Kay said any alleged violation of OSHA standards requires an investigation. “This information is confidential at this point and becomes public knowledge as soon as a final order has been issued for each violation which may take up to six months,” he added.

Kay said there are factors that contribute to non-compliance.

“Factors include but are not limited to a lack of understanding of OSHA requirements; lack of understanding of worker’s rights; lack of the ability to identify potential hazards; lack of on-the-job training; lack of training to use the right safety equipment to do the job; lack of training to use the safety equipment properly; lack of authority to enforce safety; and a tendency to hurry the job, to name a few.”

Kay said there has been no case in the CNMI in which OSHA recommended temporary stoppage of work or a company’s closure due to severe safety and health issues in the work place.

He said they’ve been getting complaints from CNMI workers, but “OSHA estimates that there are few complaints and referrals from the CNMI compared with Guam and Hawaii.”

Kay said they continue to address issues in the work place.

“OSHA inspections identify job hazards and applicable OSHA standards that apply to protect workers from injury and illness.   If the employer had knowledge of the hazard but did not take reasonable corrective measures to mitigate the hazard, then citations are issued,” he said.  

“OSHA will continue to conduct inspections in the CNMI.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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