SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements?
Many employers have substantial safety and health workplace programs in place; some are more than adequate and are working well to provide for the well-being of their employees. Others, well let us just say they could use some improvement. As you take a few minutes to read the following guidelines included in OSHA’s draft proposal for an inclusive safety and health program, see where your present program meets these criteria and note areas of needed improvement.
Management leadership and employee participation:
Each employer must establish the program responsibilities of managers, supervisors and employees for safety and health in the workplace and hold them accountable for carrying out those responsibilities; provide the authority, access to information, training and resources; designate at least one person be responsible for the overall program; and ensure that all employees have the opportunity to participate.
Hazard identification and assessment:
Each employer must assess the workplace to identify all hazards; evaluate new equipment, materials and processes; and review safety and health information. This would need to be done initially, then at least once every two years or when workplace conditions change. Assessment records must be kept – employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt under the law, but should participate.
Hazard prevention and control:
An employer’s basic obligation is to systematically comply with the hazard prevention and control requirements of the General Duty Clause and OSHA standards; or develop a plan for coming into compliance as promptly as possible, which includes setting priorities and deadlines and tracking progress in controlling hazards.
Information and training:
The employer must ensure that employees are provided with information and training in the safety and health pro-ram and any hazards they may be exposed to. This would include the nature of the hazards and how to recognize them; what is being done to control hazards; and the protective measures that must be taken to prevent or minimize exposure. Information and training must be provided for current employees before the rule’s compliance date and for new employees, before initial assignment to a job involving exposure to a hazard. Refresher training and information must be done as often as necessary to ensure that employees are adequately trained and informed or when workplace conditions change.
Evaluation of program effectiveness:
The employer must evaluate the safety and health program to ensure that it is effective and appropriate to workplace conditions as often as necessary to ensure program effectiveness; at least once in the first 12 months; and then at least once every two years.
The host employer would be responsible to provide information about hazards, controls, safety and health rules, and emergency procedures to all employers at the workplace. The contract employer must ensure that the host employer is aware of the hazards associated with the contract employer’s work and what is being done to address them; and advise the host employer of any previously unidentified hazards that the contract employer identifies at the workplace.
Remember to document all safety-related activities. Technical assistance may be available to you if you are a small business owner through your insurance carrier, safety council and many local, state and federal agencies, including state consultation programs and OSHA area offices. You may even find help in the yellow pages of your telephone listing with companies that specialize in items and services relating to safety, health and fire prevention.
The purpose of this plan is to reduce the number of job-related fatalities, illnesses and injuries. Isn’t that the goal of every company owner, manager, supervisor or worker?
No one wakes up every day to go to work in the hopes of either being injured themselves or watching a co-worker become injured. In everyday working life, accidents do happen, but when management has instituted an aggressive safety and health plan, properly trained its employees, protected against obvious hazards, periodically checked their safety and health program and shown employees they are important to the company’s functionality and success; then the safety plan is working. This, in turn, will reduce safety and health risks and increase efficiency and profitability.
As an additional resource, the following websites provide a wealth of information on safety related topics and programs.
| Occupational Safety & Health Administration |
| www.osha.gov |
|National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health
| www.cdc.gov/niosh |
| Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety |
| National Safety Council |
| www.nsc.org |
|American Society of Safety Engineers|
| www.asse.org |
For more information, click on the Author Biography link at the top of this page.
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