Would Parenthood Pass An OSHA Inspection?

During a recent loud and chaotic day with my kids, which involved skyrocketing stress levels and driving after a night of minimal sleep, I wondered: Would my job as a stay-at-home mom pass an OSHA inspection? Call it a need for validation of my current career, but I thought it would be enlightening to compare the real occupational safety and health standards to my everyday existence as a mom of three children, 4 and under. (You can read the standards here: http://tinyurl.com/yfmf5pj.)

Occupational Noise Exposure (Standard #1910.95)

Bet you already know what I’m going to say! When all three of my kids howl, whine, and shriek at the top of their lungs, my ears feel like they’re melting off my head, right along with my brain cells. This OSHA standard says that the “permissible noise exposure” for workers over 8 hours is 90 decibels, which is equivalent to a lawnmower. A crying baby is estimated to be about 110 decibels, which OSHA only allows for 30 minutes per day (“Secrets of Baby Behavior:” http://tinyurl.com/7j68no9). My children are awake for at least 12 hours each day. I like the footnote in OSHA’s Permissible Noise Exposure chart too: “When the daily noise exposure is composed of two or more periods of noise exposure of different levels, their combined effect should be considered, rather than the individual effect of each…” I often find the combined effect of three children to be considerable.

If I had an employer besides this Trio, they would have to provide a “Hearing Conservation Program,” with periodic auditory testing and provision of “hearing protectors.” Come to think of it, I might implement this at home. Big earmuffs would be a perfect solution to the whining and multiple requests for cheese.

Walking-Working Surfaces (Standard #1910.22)

“All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.”

Oh, my place of employment would fail miserably. We trip on toys in the kitchen, we step over toys in the bathroom, we walk around a minefield of pointy-edged toys in the hallways, and we jump over toys on the stairs. Sometimes, we miss our diapers and create other types of landmines on the floor. Storerooms become catch-alls, piled high with the leaves, stones, sticks, and insects from our outdoor adventures.

The one area we surpass OSHA’s requirements is in this: “Covers and guardrails shall be provided to protect personnel from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats, ditches, etc.” This establishment has been childproofed to the point of no furniture and covers over every hazard. Even duct tape on the fireplace and old crib rails blocking off the route behind the TV, so personnel can’t get tangled in power cords. I would expect high marks from an OSHA inspector in this one area, but it’s doubtful that would make up for our failings.

General Environmental Controls: Sanitation (Standard # 1910.141)

“Any receptacle used for putrescible solid or liquid waste or refuse shall be so constructed that it does not leak and may be thoroughly cleaned and maintained in a sanitary condition.”

My carpet is still wet from today’s diaper leakthrough, so we’ve failed this standard. In addition, my youngest two personnel members like to pull the bag out of the diaper pail and scatter the ingredients all over the floor, so that’s certainly not maintained in a sanitary condition.

“A common drinking cup and other common utensils are prohibited.”

We share cups and spoons all the time, which is probably why germs pass through this house like wildfire. I’m just so glad to see sharing instead of fighting (refer back to the Occupational Noise Exposure standard), that I’m not about to demand change on this one.

“Eating and drinking areas. No employee shall be allowed to consume food or beverages in a toilet room nor in any area exposed to a toxic material.”

Sometimes, the bathroom is the only place I have privacy and personal space to grab a snack. Although it only lasts until Mr. Twin realizes I’m missing and sets to screaming outside the door. In order to decrease the decibels, I let him in, but he brings his crackers with him and usually eats one off the floor. I would consider that toxic.

“Food handling: “…In all places of employment where all or part of the food service is provided, the food dispensed shall be wholesome, free from spoilage, and shall be processed, prepared, handled, and stored in such a manner as to be protected against contamination.”

We do offer wholesome food, but the personnel often accept only processed food, and while it’s protected from contamination while being prepared, once it’s distri-buted, we try hard to not look and live by the 5-second rule. Or, sometimes, 10 seconds. Or, sometimes, as long as Mom blows it off, since we don’t have anymore and we’d like to avoid a tantrum. (Refer to Occupational Noise Exposure.)

Perhaps we just won’t invite any OSHA inspectors in. They might deem sloppy goodnight kisses to be unsanitary, or require earplugs to drown out the decibels of giggles as much as cries. They probably wouldn’t survive the clouds of toxic gas that accumulate here anyway. But a parent can.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. abbyplambeck
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 22:27:23

    Thanks to my hubby for suggesting this topic!


  2. Amy Verwiel Kline
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 22:45:21

    Abby, I just love your blog, makes me smile!


  3. Beth Louw
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 07:57:06

    Abby- Great blog. I was laughing out loud! I think that my home wouldn’t pass either and we only have the dogs. Oh well, love is worth the craziness!


  4. Lynda Olsen
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:02:58

    As usual, your wit and creativity are a true joy to behold. Thanks for writing and keeping us in a good mood for the day.


  5. jrm
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:34:10

    Hmmm, maybe this is why your munchkins decided to play outside the last time by. Me thinks they may be smarter than both of us, or maybe just very lucky….. or both.


  6. annettecrey
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 10:47:50

    Kudos, Abby! “Professionals” in the workaday world can not compete with you and probably lack your patience and problem solving talents. You are a CEO who truly deals with “the little people” on the corporate/private ladder. =)


  7. abbyplambeck
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 20:14:33

    Thank you, Beth, Lynda, Jon, and Annette! Glad to bring some joy to your day and your comments made ME smile! 🙂


  8. Unca Phil
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 05:37:34

    Loved it Abby
    I know a OSHA inspector I could send your way. I wonder if he’d close you down LOL
    Probably not, he/she probably has kids too.
    Keep Smiling 🙂


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