New England Seafood Processing Employers Under ScrutinyJul 11, 2023
On June 1, 2023, OSHA announced a new Local Emphasis Program (LEP) targeting the seafood processing industry in Region 1. The LEP was launched as a result of 2021 injury and illness data for specific seafood industry-related NAICS codes for businesses located in New England. According to the LEP, the injury and illness rates in Region 1 are well above the national average. Enforcement activities will begin in September 2023 and remain in effect for five years.
Who is targeted?
The LEP will apply to all covered employers throughout Region 1. The following NAICS codes are the targets:
31170 (Seafood Product Preparation and Packaging)
311711 (Seafood Canning)
311712 (Fresh and Frozen Seafood Processing)
424460 (Fish and Seafood Merchant Wholesalers)
What can employers expect?
If you are an employer in the seafood industry located in Region 1, plan on an OSHA inspection. OSHA’s Compliance Safety & Health Officers (CSHOs) will be prepared to focus on the types of injuries and illnesses reflected in the 2021 injury and illness data.
CSHOs will also use the opportunity to expand the inspection scope. If an employer covered under the new Region 1 LEP is also covered under a National Emphasis Program (NEP) — or if they’re on OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program list — any site visits could expand in scope.
Besides reviewing current injury and illness logs, OSHA will be very interested in the employer’s use of temporary workers and any documentation about how temporary workers are trained. Is training received in a language that the worker understands?
An LEP inspection is thorough. CSHOs will be interested in scrutinizing sanitation practices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Lock-Out-Tag-Out (LOTO) protocols, and hazard communication. Some of the specific standards OSHA will use to guide their inspection are:
29 CFR §1910 Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment.
29 CFR §1910 Subpart O Machinery and Machine Guarding.
29 CFR §1910.146 Permit-required confined spaces.
29 CFR §1910.147 The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout).
29 CFR §1910.178 Powered industrial trucks.
What should employers do?
An employer can do many things to prepare for an OSHA inspection. However, working with outside counsel to conduct a privileged safety audit is recommended if you are at all concerned about possible violations. Are you worried about what an OSHA inspection could reveal about your operations? Being prepared today will greatly decrease tomorrow’s downstream liabilities, e.g. OSHA citations, etc.
Feel free to contact Orr & Reno if you would like to further explore this new Region 1 LEP — and your potential vulnerability — before OSHA appears in your front office.
About the Author: James Laboe