Gun Ranges - Montana
Sender: Gary Marbut-MSSA <mssa@mtssa.org>
Subject: OSHA, lead and Montana shooting ranges
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:33:32 -0700
To: mssa@mtssa.org

Dear MSSA Friends,

Because of recent reports of OSHA interest in inspecting Montana ranges for lead pollution, I've written some information about that, posted below.

I will soon get this up on the MSSA Website as well.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.mtpublish.com

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OSHA and Montana Shooting Ranges

(February 5, 2009)

The "Area Director" for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) located in Billings has recently sent correspondence to more than one range-operating gun group in Montana. They are asking to inspect the club's facilities for compliance with federal regulations regarding lead pollution. The letters seen so far have been addressed to "Indoor Firing Range Employer."

If your club receives such a letter, how should you respond?

If your club doesn't have an indoor range, you should respond, by mail, return receipt requested, informing the sender that you do not have or maintain an indoor range - nothing more.

If your club doesn't have any employees, you should respond, by mail, return receipt requested, informing the sender that you do not have any employees - nothing more.

Having employees triggers OSHA's authority. No employees, no authority.

There are reports that teams of two OSHA employees may attempt to crowd their way into a facility using bluster or innocuous comments such as "We just want to look around." If they are allowed in, they will inspect every inch of the facility trying to uncover violations. One will take LOTS of photographs while the other hunts for possible violations.

Because of this intrusiveness and the "fishing expedition" nature of these visits, it is recommended that you NOT give them permission to enter your facility unless they have a court order. If their authority over your facility is genuine, they will be able to get a court order. Otherwise not.

If OHSA personnel should subsequently return with a court order, the personnel should absolutely be limited to inspecting ONLY that which is listed on the court order. Any court order should specify what they may inspect. Any documents that are not identified on their face as coming from a court are not a court order. A valid court order should have the name and location of the issuing court, an original signature by the issuing judge or magistrate, and should narrowly specify what the personnel are allowed to inspect.

Whatever paperwork is presented, you should ask for a copy of what is offered. If the visiting personnel did not bring copies for you, you should ask to run the papers offered through your copy machine. Also, these visiting OSHA personnel should possess government-issued, photo ID cards that identify them specifically as OSHA personnel having inspection/enforcement powers and duties. It is recommended that you record all information on any IDs presented, photocopy if you can.

Whether indoor or outdoor, all Montana shooting ranges are advised to be cautious about having employees. Again, having employees is what gives OSHA authority and access to your facility. If your club reimburses any club officers or members for materials provided for your range, be sure to mark the paying check as a reimbursement and be sure the payment goes on your books that way. If your club is paying anyone providing services at your range, make sure that that person is operating as an "independent contractor." Talk to a local CPA about what that means and how your club should arrange the work and arrange to pay the contractor for that person to qualify as an "independent contractor" (or "outside service").

If your club has an indoor range AND documentable employees AND gets a letter from OSHA wanting to inspect your facility, it is recommended that you contact Eric Smart of MCS Environmental in Missoula at 728-7755. Eric is a longtime and dedicated shooter and hunter, and is more familiar with OSHA regulations and procedures than you want to become. Environmental consulting and remediation are Eric's business - that's how he makes his living. So, if you need him, don't be surprised that he charges you for his service, but remember that he is your friend and knows a lot about this issue.

If your club gets to the point where it needs legal assistance to resolve any OSHA problems, call Lee Bruner of Butte, an attorney with Poore, Roth and Robinson, at 497-1200. Remember that this is also Lee's business, so don't expect to call him and visit at length without a bill. You negotiate that with Lee. His time is valuable. However, Lee is also a dedicated shooter and hunter and has been willing to study up on the OSHA/lead issue. So you don't have to wonder if he's on your side and you don't have to pay his time to get generally up to speed about OSHA and lead.

Jim McDonald of Missoula is on the Board of the organization that owns the Deer Creek Shooting Center. Because Jim owns a manufacturing business, he also has experience with OSHA. He is willing to receive calls at 251-3800 x 2222 about OSHA and ranges.

For any other shooting range issues, explore the "Shooting Ranges" portion of the Montana Shooting Sports Association website at http://www.mtssa.org or send an email to MSSA at: mssa AT mtssa.org.
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