Featured image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards are legally enforceable rules aimed at keeping US workers as safe and healthy as possible. Simply put, any business and organization in the US needs to be compliant with OSHA standards before they can begin operations.
RELATED ARTICLE: CLEANING PROCEDURES FOR COMPLIANCE WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY RULES
A key aspect of staying in compliance with OSHA safety standards is to establish a proper safety management system. In other words, your business needs a program to align the whole workplace as a safety culture.
Below, we discuss how you can develop a safety management program to ensure your business is in compliance with OSHA standards and other safety standards. This program will reduce reportable incidents and eliminate potential workplace hazards.
Establish a System to Meet OSHA Safety Standards: A Step-by-Step Guide
Before anything else, it’s important to understand that a safety management system, or safety program, is an ongoing, continuous initiative. A safety program is not a one-off project. It will never be complete until the business closes down.
Therefore, it’s important to design your company’s safety management system as a long-term program. In short, it should not be solely about meeting OSHA safety standards. Instead, think of it as a long-term commitment across the whole organization.
Below is a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing a safety management system. There are five core steps:
Step 1: Establish Top-Down Commitment to OSHA Standards
A safety management system can only be successful when both management and workers work together. Everyone must properly align to achieve the same objective.
Executive leaders, especially the chief safety officer or the equivalent role, should act as the planner and initiator of safety programs. However, it’s the workers who execute the day-to-day details. The company’s employees must ensure the organization stays in compliance with OSHA safety standards. Management should encourage workers, while workers need to be able to trust management. Without this relationship, the safety management system won’t succeed.
In other words, it’s crucial that workers can clearly see the management’s commitment and contribution to safety-related policies and activities. Equally important, the company’s onboarding process for new employees must integrate health and safety policies in accordance with OSHA safety standards.
Additionally, you should also develop and communicate safety objectives. Without clear, specific, and measurable objectives, it’s going to be very challenging to monitor the effects of various safety policies.
Step 2: Conduct a Safety Audit to Identify Workplace Safety Hazards
In this step, you need to gather as much information as you can about workplace hazards. We call this a safety audit. As you perform the safety audit be sure to properly document your findings. Only in this way will you be able to address outstanding issues moving forward. Moreover, this may also be a legal requirement according to OSHA standards in your area.
You can use different approaches in performing a safety audit, including:
- Manual observation of the workplace to identify hazards and risks, while assessing current safety conditions in the workplace.
- Interviewing workers and management, gathering input and feedback, and encouraging all team members to report future incidents, ill-health situations, and near misses.
- Consulting documentation such as equipment datasheets and instruction manuals to identify potential hazards.
A safety incident reporting, tracking and management software such as iReportSource can make it much easier to audit the work environment for potential risks and hazards. The same software will make it easier to record your findings in a centralized, structured hub. Then you can easily review and analyze your findings to identify the best possible measures that will bring your company into compliance with OSHA standards.
Step 3: Implement Control Measures to Bring Your Business into Compliance with OSHA Standards
In this step, we will develop control measures to prevent, reduce, and if possible, eliminate hazards. This is often the most challenging step. This is because the resulting policies must hold both management and workers accountable to safety.
Some OSHA safety standards require written safety programs, including:
- Bloodborne Pathogens Post-Exposure Plan
- Emergency Actions Plans
- Permit-Required Confined Spaces
- Electrical Safety
- Hazard Communication Program
- Lockout / Tagout Program (Energy Control Procedures)
- Respiratory Protection Program
- Personal Protective Equipment (Hazard Assessment)
- Fire Prevention Plan
- Hearing Conservation Program
- Trenching and Excavation Safety
Again, tools like iReportSource can help in documenting these programs.
Step 4: Implement Continuous Safety Training
Now that your company has put safety policies in place, the next step is to educate both workers and management about maintaining compliance with OSHA standards.
RELATED ARTICLE: SAFETY WORKWEAR: YES, YOU CAN GIVE EMPLOYEES STYLISH OPTIONS
Safety training should be made mandatory as a part of onboarding new employees. Therefore, implement a multi-step training program. If necessary, this should involve one-on-one supervision from a designated trainer/expert.
Existing workers should also undergo regular refresher training courses to update their knowledge regarding existing and new safety policies.
Step 5: Monitor and Refine
As mentioned earlier, don’t think of your company’s safety program as a one-off project. Instead, continuously monitor it throughout your business’s entire lifecycle. Evaluate it periodically and adjust it:
- When there are any significant changes to the activity in question.
- When new activities are introduced to the workplace.
- After reporting an incident or injury.
- After a near-miss.
Also, collect feedback from workers and management regularly about the ongoing safety program. They can provide valuable insights into how you can further improve the safety management system and continue to remain in compliance with OSHA standards.
A key step in ensuring your organization stays in compliance with the OSHA safety standards is to develop a comprehensive safety management system. OSHA compliance will not only make your workplace safer for your employees but can allow your business to save more money in the long run. For example, your company’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums will be lower if you are OSHA safety-compliant.
Regardless, it’s important to continuously monitor your existing safety program and policies and review them regularly. Finally, protect your workers and your business by following OSHA safety standards.
RELATED ARTICLE: ABSENCE MANAGEMENT: A HEADACHE OR A REMEDY?