How we handled our COVID-19 Non-Formal IOSHA Complaint
Posted in Blog

How We Handled our COVID-19 Non-Formal IOSHA Complaint

13 April 2020

Recently, an IOSHA Complaint landed in our Info Account’s inbox. As a small business owner, it would be easy to see this and become wrought with worry, start panicking, become paranoid, etc. Instead, we followed advice from the man Jocko Willink and said, “Good.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMDpizis8

Good? Yes, Good. OSHA raíses the bar for safety. COVID-19 is uncharted territory and if there’s something we could be doing better as a junk removal company, then we wanted to know about it. Who better to help our growing company become more well rounded in regards to safety than OSHA.

How we handled our COVID-19 Non-Formal IOSHA Complaint

What is a Non-Formal Complaint?

https://www.in.gov/dol/3145.htm

A non-formal complaint can be made anonymously by anyone and does not require a signature. The person submitting the non-formal complaint even has the option to forego leaving their name, phone number and email thereby completely anonymous. Non-formal complaints result in IOSHA contacting the company by phone, mail, e-mail or fax to investigate alleged hazards.

The Non-Formal Complaint

Here is what it looked like:

Email Subject: COVID-19 Non-formal Complaint Form

Dear Employer,

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) received a complaint concerning alleged health hazards related to the coronavirus outbreak at your company.

The specific nature of the concern is as follows:

Employer not enforcing social distancing

Other

They keep scheduling jobs that require us to go into customers homes and violate social distancing.

This letter is not a citation, nor is it a notification of proposed penalty which, according to the IOSH Act, may be issued only after an inspection of the workplace. We have not determined whether the hazard(s), as alleged, exist at your workplace and are not planning to conduct on onsite inspection at this time. However, if we do not receive a response from you indicating the appropriate action has been taken, an inspection may be conducted.

Since allegations of hazardous conditions have been made, you should investigate the alleged conditions and make any necessary corrections or modifications. Please advise the Agency in writing of your findings and of any necessary corrective actions taken within five (5) working days of receipt of this letter. Your response should be detailed, stating specifically what action you have taken to correct any hazards along with documentation like photos, invoices, etc. Merely reciting the actions you have taken in not a sufficient response without documentary evidence. The preferable method of communicating your response is by email to the below email address.

Applicable photographic evidence of any corrected conditions must be provided. Other information concerning corrected items including, but not limited to, training records, copies of programs, directives or memos sent to employees, equipment purchase orders, and other supporting materials must also be provided.

The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including seasonal flu and other flu-like viruses, in non-healthcare settings. The recommended strategies for employers to use at this time cover the following topics, and can be found at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website which is updated regularly: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html

The CDC is also recommending employers take the following steps to prevent the spread of Influenza and other Influenza-like viruses:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Accommodate sick employees through separation or telework (if possible)
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning
  • Check government websites (CDC, State Department) for any travel advisories (where applicable)
  • Develop a workplace plan for public health emergencies.
  • The CDC and federal OSHA maintain a website that provides information to employers concerned with COVID-19 infections in the workplace. The information can be found at the following website and is updated regularly:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus

The CDC’s general public website contains relevant information on what you should know, situation updates and information for communities, healthcare professionals, health departments, travel and laboratories: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Please note that Section 38.1 of the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Act, IC 22-8-1.1, provides that “no person shall discharge or discriminate against any employee because that employee has filed a complaint”. Employees must notify us immediately through the website https://www.in.gov/dol/2391.htm, if they are punished or discriminated against for job safety and health activities including filing complaints with IOSHA. IOSHA will investigate claims of discrimination and, if warranted, will act on behalf of an employee to restore their job, earnings, and benefits.

This letter is to be posted for 3 days or until the issue is corrected in a prominent place where employees may review it, preferably at or near the alleged safety or health hazard.

Email response to: NFR@dol.in.gov

*Please include the employer name in the subject line of the email.

If you email a copy, then please do not send a response by regular mail.

If you cannot email a response, mail or fax a response to:

Indiana Department of Labor – Attention Nonformal Response

402 W. Washington St. Room # W195

Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Phone: 317-232-2693 FAX: 317-974-2064 – Nonformal Response

The Indiana Department of Labor offers consultation services, without charge, to assist in resolving all occupational safety and health issues. INSafe offers a variety of services in response to the needs of employers and employees, within the state of Indiana. These services include training and education, on-site consultation, and assistance in correcting hazards. INSafe assistance may be limited by the bureau’s requirement to give priority to small businesses in high hazard industries and by its backlog. INSafe may be contacted through their web address of http://www.in.gov/dol/insafeconsultation.htm or at Email: insafe@dol.in.gov. Please be advised that contact with INSafe does not fulfill your responsibility to abate, or take action on, any safety/health hazards within five working days with respect to this notice.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please feel free to email the IOSHA Duty Officer at NFR@DOL.IN.GOV, including requests for extensions.

Sincerely,

Intake Duty Officer

IDOL-IOSHA

317-232-2693

Fire Dawgs Junk Removal Indianapolis in Tyvek Suits

The Company Response to IOSHA

Supporting Documents were Attached

Good afternoon,

I am responding to the non-formal complaint lodged against Fire Dawgs, Inc. As the CEO of Fire Dawgs, Inc., it is my responsibility to take the lodged complaint and concerns seriously. I truly want to ensure we are providing a safe workplace and a safe culture.  I have been working diligently to both keep my small business afloat, while also ensuring that I am taking the precautions necessary to look out for the safety and well being of my team members.

I have attached company memos/emails that were sent to both the team members and our customers regarding our service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I dated the attachments so you could read them in order and try to align them with the guidance that was being delivered by the State at the time. In addition to these company emails, we have a daily safety briefing as part of our morning roll call led by our Operations Manager. This is a practice that is part of our daily operations even prior to the pandemic. From the emails and guidance provided to both our operations and dispatch team, we were not sending teams into customer homes without providing them full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) above and beyond recommendations from the CDC. Specifically, we provided each team member with Reusable Air Filtration Masks. In addition, we kept dust masks in the shop as a back up and gave each team member a dust mask to take home to their spouse or loved one that goes to the grocery store. We did this prior to the president’s recommendations. Aside from the PPE we provided, you can see in the attachment we sent our customers that we were also doing everything we could to encourage and incentivize them to not have us come into their home.

Regarding the filing of the complaint, is there any way for you to confirm if the team member works for our company? I understand they may want to remain anonymous, and I respect that, but I was wondering if I sent you a roster of our team members if you’d be able to compare that to the filing information? I wouldn’t be looking to find out who it was, merely confirm if the individual does in fact work for us. I just want to rule out foul play by a competitor.

I understand that’s a dark road and I don’t want to focus on that possibility. I mainly want to make sure we are doing what we can as an employer.

Guiding Principle: Treat every customer the way you would want your family to be treated.

At Fire Dawgs, Inc., we say that our number 1 customer is our team members. If you feel after reviewing the information and guidance provided to my team that I am failing in my Guiding Principle, then please let me know.

Mission Statement: Build Leaders and Pursue Growth while providing Award Winning Service.

I can only pursue personal and professional growth and get better by surrounding myself with people who raise the bar. I count OSHA as one of those organizations that raises the bar. If I can do better, then I genuinely want to know.

 

Thank you for your time and hard work during this pandemic,

Bennett J. Grove II

Founder & CEO

Fire Dawgs Junk Removal

FireDawgsJunkRemoval.com

317-291-DAWG (3294)

“Treat every customer the way you would want your family to be treated”

Attached to the email that we sent IOSHA were all emails and correspondence that we had been having with our team from the onset of the pandemic up until the date of the complaint. We also provided pictures and links to the PPE that we had been using for the team members. We also sent them a copy of the email we had sent all of our customers letting them know that we were considered Essential, but would need to make drastic changes to our service. That email is below:

Email Subject: New Servicing Options amid COVID-19 Guidance

Email Body

How can we still provide junk removal services amid the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer is that we must do so tactfully and thoughtfully. Until we are told otherwise, we need to keep working. We are a small business that services our community and is supported by our community. However, it can’t be business as usual given the new guidance from our government and given the concerns of our customers. Below are some changes that you can expect from the team at Fire Dawgs Junk Removal.

1. Curbside, Garage or Outside the House – Discount Provided

We recommend putting as many items in your garage, outside your home or curbside so that we can limit our team’s presence in your home. Not only does this adhere to social distancing, it will also result in $25 OFF the service.

2. Tyvek Suits and PPE Option Available

If you are not able to get the items curbside, garage or outside the house, but are still needing removal services, then we have an option for that too. We will staff all trucks with tyvek suits, booties, gloves and masks. We would normally charge extra for this service but given the climate, we will provide this option at no extra cost.

3. Convenient, Distancing Payment Options

When we send our invoices, they have an “online payment” option attached. With this option, we will give you the option to pay through the invoice with a Credit Card rather than paying our team upon completion with our on-site processor. We respectfully ask that you pay within 24 hours.

4. No Credit Card Processing Fees!

Given that we are encouraging the payment with credit cards or debit cards through the invoice, we will waive all Credit Card Processing Fees while our nation battles this pandemic.

5. Thank You!

While we may not be able to give you a physical hug, you can rest assured that each one of our team members will be giving you a virtual hug, or a hug in spirit. We are a small business and are so grateful for you keeping us busy. We don’t have unlimited resources so during this uncertain time the support we receive from our loyal customers will be met with the utmost gratitude and appreciation.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

This is our think outside the box question. We want to be here to help you, your loved ones, OUR COMMUNITY! If you have a unique need, and you need help, please let us know. While we are a junk removal and hauling company, we are also a company full of capable and caring team members. We want to get creative to help you so we all get through this together.

IOSHA’s Response as of 4/9/2020

If this is in response to a nonformal complaint, this email will serve as your confirmation that IOSHA has received your response.  Your response will be reviewed by this office for sufficiency. If your response is unsatisfactory, then you will receive a letter from this office requesting additional information.  Therefore, it is not necessary to contact this office for confirmation of receipt.

 

In addition, please send all requests for extension of time to this email.  You will receive confirmation of the extension via email. Therefore, you do not need to call this office for extension requests.

 

Thank you,

 

Intake Division

Conclusion

In closing, we thought we were doing all the right things with the guidance that was being given by our President and the Governor of Indiana. IOSHA may agree with us after they finish reviewing our response, policies and procedures. However, even if they find that we weren’t in compliance, or should be doing something differently, GOOD! That only makes us better! We will come out of it an even stronger company because we will learn, grow and continue providing an amazing place to work for team members that want to abide by our Guiding Principle and Mission Statement.

Guiding Principle: Treat every customer the way you would want your family to be treated.

Mission Statement: Build Leaders and Pursue Growth while providing Award Winning Service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *