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​One of the most interesting parts of being the editor of FenderBender is seeing what stories resonate with readers every month. Over time, you’re able to notice trends and I can almost guarantee what stories will be the most popular. And, with years under my belt, I can safely say that one type of stories almost always land with a thud: OSHA-related.

I actually get it. Obviously keeping your employees safe is a priority, but if you’re a shop owner who’s up to snuff, you probably already follow the rules mandated by OSHA. Plus, let’s be honest, the chances of OSHA stopping by unannounced are fairly slim. 

Right?

Well, I can say from firsthand experience that even if those chances are slim, it’s still within the realm of possibility that OSHA could stop by. And I would know, because that’s exactly what happened at my first job. 

In high school, I worked at a bakery in my hometown of St. Paul. It had been in business for years and was run by an extremely Type A woman who was well connected in the local business community and, by all accounts, ran a very successful operation.

It was a busy afternoon when, out of the blue, two men walked in (in my now-distant memory, they look like the characters from Men in Black) and announced they were there to do an on-the-spot OSHA inspection. 

Sweet. Good thing three teenagers and one college student on summer break were running the place that day.

Even though that was some 15 years ago, I still recall how stressful it was for the owner, particularly when the report came back—and it wasn’t pretty. Among other things, turns out, the big buckets of powdered sugar that we kept right by the industrial oven? Yeah, that was highly flammable.

It was a mad dash in the following weeks to right those wrongs before the re-inspection—and to avoid the thousands of dollars in fines. 

Perhaps surprisingly, though, what I also still remember is how grateful, ultimately, my boss was for that visit. She was alarmed by the results of that inspection—both in terms of where her business had slipped, but also of her own ignorance regarding certain practices. In the end, the visit actually made her business far better and safer.

So, that’s all a long-winded explanation for exactly why you should read associate editor Kelly’s Beaton’s story, “OSHA Visits 101." There are always components of running a business that might seem unimportant (in comparison to more pressing issues) and there’s always the feeling of, “It won’t happen to me.” But, if you let it, those little aspects can actually make a huge difference in your business. 

The point of preparing for OSHA, keeping meticulous documentation or ensuring your techs fill out accurate time cards isn’t to avoid an audit—it’s to run a sound business, one that values the safety of its employees and the details involved with business ownership.

Anna Zeck

Editor 

FenderBender

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