About the only thing an agricultural industry manager would dread as much as seeing the late Mike Wallace and the crew of “60 Minutes” drive up to his facility would be to open the door to hear someone from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say “we’re here for an inspection.”

It need not be that frightening, says Miriam McGee, outreach compliance assistance with South Texas OSHA.

McGee, speaking at the Coastal Bend Grain Storage and Handling Safety Conference recently in Sinton, Texas, explained that she is not in enforcement but works with businesses, typically small ones, to help them comply with regulations before they risk citations.

“We offer a consultation service free of charge,” she said, “usually for companies with fewer than 250 employees at a fixed site or no more than 500 nationally.”

She said prevention is much cheaper than the fines and other losses that could result from citations for hazardous working conditions. “Cost could go as high as seven to 10 times higher than the initial loss,” she said.

A safe workplace is important. In the United States, 16 people die in the workplace every day and 45 are injured every minute. Fatalities and workplace catastrophes require OSHA investigation. “Also, three or more hospitalizations require an investigation.” She said South Texas OSHA offices may investigate as many as 30 fatalities each year.

Employers have eight hours to report a catastrophe or a fatality. “Even a heart attack death must be reported,” she said. A site investigation may be necessary to determine if the death resulted from workplace hazards.

OSHA often receives referrals from other agencies and county sheriffs. “We also see media referrals,” media reports or photos showing unsafe workplace actions or conditions.