Workplace safety is a hot topic, indeed. But what does workplace safety actually encompass? Of course, employers want to keep their employees safe and injury free while at work, but many are not familiar with Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) requirements.
Below are the five top safety requirements every business owner should know and incorporate, regardless of size or industry.
1. OSHA Recordkeeping and Posting
Each year, between February 1 and April 30, OSHA requires certain employers to post OSHA Form 300A. This form contains a summary of the total number of job-related injuries (anything beyond first aid) and illnesses that occurred the previous calendar year. Throughout the year, employers need to track all illnesses and injuries on the OSHA 300 form. Recordkeeping is also a great tool to identify problem departments or problem areas. These forms can be found at http://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms.html.
2. Accident Investigation and Reporting
OSHA also requires employers to investigate any injury beyond first aid. Investigations are vital to find the root cause of why the injury or illness occurred. Discovering the cause will assist in finding ways to prevent the injury or illness from occurring again in the future. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/accidentinvestigation/index.html.
3. Hazard Communication
Hazard communication (HAZCOM) violations are the number one reason OSHA cites employers. HAZCOM is necessary to make employees aware of any hazardous chemicals or materials employees may be exposed to while at work. Employers must provide and maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS), previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS, for all potentially hazardous materials in the workplace. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.
4. Emergency Action Plan
All companies are required to develop an emergency action plan and companies with 11 or more employees must have this plan in writing. The action plan should include a variety of potential emergencies such as cases of work violence, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes etc. For more information visit, http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/eap.html.
5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Employers are required to assess whether PPE must be provided for their employees to perform their jobs safely. OSHA has an order of preference on ways to protect employees. Ideally, using engineering controls would be the best way to protect employees. An example of an engineering control would be to add a blade guard on a saw machine. If an engineering control is not feasible, the next step would be work practice control (i.e. job rotation or substituting chemicals for non-hazardous ones). Finally, if an engineering or work practice control cannot completely protect the employee, PPE must be implemented.
There are five different types of PPE:
- Face and eye protections (i.e. safety glasses, face shields)
- Foot protection (i.e. steel tipped boots)
- Hand protection (i.e. latex gloves)
- Head protection (i.e. hard hats)
- Hearing protection (i.e. ear plugs)
For more information visit, http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/personalprotectiveequipment/index.html.
The five tips outlined above are an important part of any workplace safety program, but these only begin to scrape the surface of a full safety initiative. You may want to consider working with a safety professional to assist you in putting together a full program for your company. With a little help, workplace safety can be an integral part of your business plan and your future success.