For all employers, providing a safe work environment for employees should be top priority. To ensure this obligation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was set up to keep employees as safe and healthy as possible. OSHA creates actionable standards and rules for employers that are enforceable by law to ensure workplace safety. As with rules of any federal regulatory agency, compliance is key. Read on for tips on how operations stay compliant with safety procedures and regulations?
What Does It Mean to be OSHA Compliant?
Since employers need to comply with OSHA standards, it’s crucial to know exactly what compliance means. To put it simply, being OSHA compliant means adhering to the agency’s rules and regulations that help keep workers safe by preventing workplace injuries and illnesses.
Companies have a duty to create a safe working environment and to follow health and safety standards. Creating an OSHA compliant work environment is much more complicated than just providing the proper PPE, employers must identify and correct all operational safety hazards by making required changes to working conditions, and even operational procedures. Employers need to address the compliance on a continuous basis to improve the working conditions and prevent illness or injury.
The following are the top OSHA violations so far this year:
- Fall Protection, General
- Respiratory Protection
- Hazard Communication
- Fall Protection, Training Requirements
- Eye and Face Protection (PPE)
- Powered Industrial Trucks
- Machinery/Machine Guard
As employers look to stay compliant, they must also:
- Inform employees of chemical hazards via training, information sheets, and other methods.
- Enforce latest COVID-19 mandates.
- Provide safety training to employees in languages they understand.
- Keep accurate records of all workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Conduct required exposure testing in the workplace.
- Provide hearing exams and other medical testing.
- Post any OSHA citations and injury data where employees can read them.
- Notify OSHA of a workplace fatality within 8 hours or 24 hours of a workplace injury.
By being vigilant and proactive, you can make sure your company remains fully compliant with OSHA regulations. Here are three additional strategies you can utilize to help ensure year-round compliance.
Inspect Equipment and Workplace Regularly
One way to stay in full compliance with OSHA regulations is to schedule regular inspections of your equipment and workspace. These inspections should include OSHA rules that apply to your specific company along with any other safety-related areas. For example, if your operation uses machinery, routinely inspect this machinery and whenever possible take apart the equipment to check the working parts inside. If you discover parts worn, cracked or broken, replace them before letting your team use the equipment. To keep this process moving forward and not fall behind on your work, keep basic parts on hand.
Determine Rules Applicable to Your Operation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific rules that affect many industries. To stay OSHA compliant, you should determine which rules and regulations apply to your company. Some rules are true across the board, like containing, storing and labeling hazardous chemicals, keeping floors and work surfaces clear, and providing proper safety equipment. There are also other OSHA requirements that pertain to certain types of operations. For example, a plant that utilizes loud machinery must protect employees with proper hearing PPE, such as earmuffs or earplugs.
Common requirements that apply to most industries include:
- Hazard Communication – This requirement includes using appropriate GHS labels for hazardous chemicals.
- Emergency Action Plan – You want your workers to be prepared for worst-case scenarios: emergencies such as injuries or toxic contamination. Employers must have a plan to ensure safety in a fire or other emergency, including identified evacuation routes.
- Fire Safety – OSHA recommends all employers have a plan for fire prevention. You should also train your personnel on how to use firefighting equipment and how to safely exit the building.
- Exit Routes – It’s important that exit routes are unobstructed with doors that are clearly marked.
- Walking / Working Surfaces – These areas must be clear from potential hazards and include standards for fall protection.
- OSHA Compliant First Aid Kit – Make sure employees know where first aid kits are kept and understand basic first-aid protocols.
Assign a Safety/Health Compliance Officer
Having someone to manage employee safety is a great way to stay OSHA compliant. Allow your safety compliance officer the time and space to proactively research any changes in rules, create safety plans, and record any injuries that happen at work. By having a safety officer on staff, you’ll be reassured knowing that someone is devoted to OSHA related issues in the workplace, and alerting you to any situations before they become a problem. With COVID-19, for example, guidelines are constantly changing in response to managing the health and safety of workers. Total Safety Health Compliance Officers are trained in current pandemic workplace guidelines, and they have the leadership skills to adequately address issues with your management team on current health compliance.
By knowing what rules apply to your business, performing regular inspections, and assigning a safety officer, you can easily stay compliant with OSHA regulations. These are just a few ways your company can stay compliant and more importantly…keep your workforce safe year-round.