It probably seems foolhardy to many tire dealers- inviting in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to inspect their operations and suggest what should be done to bring them into compliance with OSHA safety regulations. Nevertheless, in today's regulatory climate it makes sense for dealers and other owners of small businesses to place themselves squarely on the right side of the law rather than face the possibility of having to explain their non-compliance in court.
Thus, a small but growing number of dealers have begun taking advantage of this little-known and heretofore seldom-used free service on the part of OSHA-so far with reportedly positive results.
Thanks to this federally-funded program, run at the state level, dealerships and other small businesses can request the assistance of OSHA consultants-without cost and without fear of being fined for their dealership's shortcomings. (See related article, page 10.)
Under the rules of the program, OSHA consultants who conduct such inspections are only permitted to make recommendations. Unlike their counterparts in OSHA's enforcement division, these consultants can't levy fines for noncompliance. Nor are they permitted to report such occurrences to OSHA enforcement officials.
Assuming everyone continues playing by these rules, this would appear to be the sort of OSHA visit nearly every dealer might welcome and appreciate.
The arrangement also helps OSHA to assure that those employed by small business labor in safe working conditions.
Meanwhile, owners of small businesses-who otherwise might be unable to afford paid consultants to undertake similar mock OSHA inspections-can voluntarily bring their operations into compliance without having to face the unwelcome aggravation and expense of being fined before doing so.
So far, at least, this program appears to be a textbook example of enlightened regulation by the federal government, a rarity. As such, it rates open-minded consideration from independent tire dealers.