Generally speaking, all employees are much more productive in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable. Meanwhile, employers will have peace of mind if their teams are protected from various risks and dangers in the workplace. As the manager of your company, you should know by now that building a safe working environment is one of your primary responsibilities.
Workplace safety must be prioritized in all organizations, especially in heavy industries—think construction and manufacturing, where employees use heavy machinery and accidents are highly prevalent. In these lines of work, having clear workplace safety policies is a must.
Fortunately, federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are highly aware of these risks and have taken the necessary measures to ensure employee safety. This guide will provide an overview of what the OSHA expects from employers regarding safety compliance.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
The Occupational Safety and Healty Act of 1970 was established to assure safe and healthful working conditions for all employees. The law seeks to protect the nation’s human resources by reducing work-related injuries and illnesses, which have corresponding financial costs.
To promote workplace safety, the OSHA provides research, information, education, and training, among other initiatives, through the office of the Secretary of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The law also recognizes the critical role of employers and employees in promoting workplace safety.
What Does the Occupational Safety and Health Act Cover?
The OSHA regulations businesses must abide by include, but are not limited to, the following.
1. Violence in the worksite
Workplace violence can fall into one of these four categories: criminal intent, customer or client, worker-on-worker, and personal relationship. Incidents of bullying and harassment, even without a physical component, may constitute workplace violence.
2. Unsafe processes and equipment
Workers must use safe machines and be guided by processes that consider their welfare. Any new technology introduced on-floor must come alongside new rounds of training. Furthermore, employees should not operate equipment without proper training.
3. Safety equipment and facilities
Employees working in hazardous areas must have access to PPE and other safety tools. For example, your staff members who regularly work in high areas must know how to use ladder harnesses, fall arrest systems, and more.
4. Safety and health training
Workers need sufficient and consistent safety and health training. They should know the dangers present in the workplace and the safety tips to prevent them.
5. Toxic chemicals
On-floor safety standards must be in place to protect workers from exposure to toxic chemicals. Employees who handle them must know how to deal with them, from processing to disposal.
6. Regular inspection
OSHA representatives conduct inspections, and the results must be accessible to all employees regardless of rank. Managers cannot gatekeep the findings that may directly or indirectly affect the workers’ welfare.
7. Injury and illness
OSHA representatives can review employees’ medical records to find a correlation between recorded injuries or illnesses and existing workplace conditions. This also allows for careful consideration and arbitration of workplace safety cases.
8. Safety Tests
OSHA representatives may request access to safety and hazard tests initiated by businesses to see whether the findings from those tests align with OSHA regulations.
Workplace Safety Tips: How Employers Can Stay Compliant with the OSHA
There will be repercussions should businesses fail to meet OSHA’s standards. For strict compliance, follow these workplace safety tips.
1. Risk awareness and training
Communicate the hazards and proactive measures to keep your employees safe. Additionally, refrain from using jargon when educating them, as this may only lead to confusion.
2. Constant identification and monitoring of potential hazards
Periodical risk assessments are crucial. Your workplace conditions may change as your company expands, so you should conduct inspections as you introduce new equipment or switch up your processes.
3. Proper equipment and workplace maintenance
Upkeep of work tools and areas must be done diligently. Some tools may require daily checkups, while others only require a weekly or monthly assessment. Ultimately, you should troubleshoot things as soon as problems are spotted or once a set amount of time has passed.
4. Warning signs
Place signages and labels in strategic areas in the workplace to warn employees of potential hazards. Moreover, employ signs reminding them to use PPE and follow safety protocols.
5. Update operating procedures
Ensure that operating procedures align with current workplace conditions. The processes must recognize the uniqueness of a particular workplace setting, so you should change your operations scale up. Moreover, updates must be made known to all employees, whether their work is directly affected or not.
6. Medical examinations
Strictly comply with OSHA’s standards regarding when to give medical examinations to employees. Ensure result transparency by notifying relevant entities should medical tests reveal alarming results that might be related to workplace safety.
7. Report to the OSHA in case of an accident
Inform the OSHA about work-related injuries within eight to 24 hours of occurrence. Adherence to this protocol is crucial for ensuring workplace safety incidents do not get out of hand.
What Can Employees Do in the Event of a Violation?
If an incident that goes against OSHA regulations for workplace safety occurs, an employee must do the following:
1. Refuse to work and file a complaint to your manager
Vacate the workplace and inform the employer about the incident through official channels. Write an incident report and have it received and signed by the immediate supervisor—if the employee can have witnesses corroborate the written incident report, the better.
The employee must not return to the work area. Leave the workplace immediately to protect against further harm or attempts from the managers or employers to diminish what they went through.
2. Contact the OSHA for proper inspection and assessment
If the employer takes no action, reach out to an OSHA representative and request a case study. The employee can also do this if the resolution taken by the manager or employer negates OSHA regulations.
Expect OSHA to conduct a more thorough review of what happened and determine the best course of action for everyone involved.
3. Acquire legal assistance
If things take a turn for the worst, seek help from a legal professional. Considering the complexities of the case, having an expert to consult with will allow the employee to manage the situation carefully.
Keep Workplace Safety a Top Priority
It’s no secret that managers have a lot of responsibilities to handle. They must ensure the quality of their products and services, optimize employee productivity, and other aspects crucial to the operations. Amid all these responsibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of equally important priorities, such as workplace safety.
Negligence of workplace safety compliance will prove just as detrimental to a business as substandard outputs and missed sales. In addition to financial repercussions, failure to prioritize it will negatively impact workplace culture and can even diminish your reputation in your industry.
To prevent those unfavorable scenarios, take to heart workplace safety compliance. For expert assistance, consult with an employment lawyer from Shegerian and Associates.