Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

Being proactive is key to workplace safety. You don’t need to see an emergency or be in a disaster to prepare for a workplace emergency. Being proactive in preparedness can make all the difference in an emergent situation. There are ways to be proactive in on-the-job safety that can involve everyone.

Designate a Safety Officer

Designating a safety officer in your office can help keep workplace safety steps organized and proactive. A safety officer doesn’t need to be a new hire; it can be an existing employee who can help organize safety demonstrations, quizzes, drills, and more involvement in workplace safety. Having an actual person in charge can keep your office on top of everything ahead of schedule, and in line with standards. They can keep a record of employees knowledge of safety procedures; they can help write or re-write procedures and drills based on industry standards, and keep everyone up to date with any changes or upcoming safety training.

Smart Hiring Practices

Hiring people who showcase safe practices in certain injuries is key to keeping a safe workplace. In industries that handle hazardous materials, screening employees to ensure they know the importance of workplace safety in those areas is very important. Hiring too quickly or without proper screening can waste valuable time and resources within a business, and lead to a break in workplace safety. Hiring good workers is key to not only a productive workplace but a safe workplace. You want to hire people that existing employees can trust with the job and their lives.

Emergency Preparedness

Following OSHA guidelines and online tips based on your industry, your safety officer can help your office in emergency preparedness. Having the supplies, checklists, and drills organized and in place long before an emergency ever happens is where your workplace should be at all times. Emergency preparedness can help your team feel more confident in an emergency, both in and out of work, and can even save lives. The last thing you want to be in an emergency is unprepared.

Develop a Solid Safety Plan

For your team, you should have a safety plan in place that everyone knows in and out. This may be escape plans in an office setting or on-site crashes or incidents on a construction site. No matter the emergency, the safety plans should be laid out, practiced, and every employee should be able to pass a quiz when asked about the plan. New employees will learn the safety plan in their first week, and it will be reviewed by everyone once a quarter, or once a month if the workplace is more hazardous.

Quarterly Safety Checks

To lock in the emergency preparedness, practice with quarterly drills, and a run-through of the safety procedures you’ve laid out for your team. If your safety procedures involve having in-depth knowledge of hazardous materials, handling of hazardous materials, or potentially dangerous situations – you should conduct quarterly tests for your employees. Everyone should be able to pass a test on the safety measures before fulfilling certain duties of the job. You can’t risk the safety of others because someone didn’t know the details of safety practices. Your safety officer can help facilitate these quarterly checks and keep everyone on track.

Note these important workplace safety dates as well, which are opportunities to review safety procedures and practices:

October 6-12 National Fire Prevention Week

October 12 Home Fire Drill Day

November 3-10 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

April 20-24 National Work Zone Awareness Week

May National Electrical Safety Month, Building Safety Month

June National Safety Month

September National Preparedness Month

Learn From Mistakes

Learning from the mistakes of others can be the best way to perfect and build out your safety plans. Looking up historical data of failed workplace safety can help facilitate necessary changes and updates to existing procedures and safety plans for you and your coworkers. Some of the leading causes of workplace accidents and injuries are due to lack of preparation, people taking shortcuts, and not following protocol. Being prepared can prevent a large majority of these incidents and learn from others to not make the same mistakes.

Expect the Unexpected

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Having a mindset where you expect the unexpected is key to being prepared for anything and everything. As you know, even the most thought out plans are not foolproof. You should have backup plans to your backup plans, and worst-case practice scenarios so everyone can be ready to react under pressure and on the fly.

 

Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere

If you work in an industry that requires safety inspections and OSHA compliance workspaces, you may often visit sites that require these things, or you work for a company that does these things. OSHA standards are divided into four basic categories based on different industries. They include general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture. If your company lies within any of these categories, it’s very important to know that a company has gone through the proper steps to create an OSHA compliant workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 says, “To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health.” No one should ever be injured, fall ill, or die because they were trying to get a paycheck.

OSHA compliance and workplace safety begin with the employer. Employers have a responsibility to create and maintain a safe work environment for themselves, employees, contractors, and visitors. Employers are responsible for providing the following:

  • A workplace free from serious recognized hazards
  • Safe, properly maintained tools and equipment
  • Necessary signage and labels on all potentially hazardous materials and areas
  • Updated operating procedures, and safety and health requirements
  • Safety training for all employees, in languages they can understand
  • Safety training on all hazardous chemicals, with accompanying safety data sheets
  • Post applicable OSHA posters in prominent locations for all employees
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses, and allow employees, current and former, access to that log

More information and responsibilities can be found here.

 

A few things to know about OSHA compliance

A small business with 10 or fewer employees is exempt from many of the OSHA rules and standards when it comes to recordkeeping and compliance. Industries considered low-hazard are also exempt such as, retail, finance, insurance, real estate.

 

Common Violations

The most common workplace violations after an OSHA inspection include, but are not limited to, the following:

Improperly Labeled Hazardous Materials

Hazardous chemicals that are flammable, carcinogenic, and reactive need to be properly labeled so hazards are visibly seen. This includes propane, chlorine, and other everyday items. This is especially important in laboratories and job sites where explosive materials need to be stored appropriately and safely. Hazard communication standards must be trained to all employees, and all appropriate signage, warnings, and labels must be posted to be OSHA compliant.

Scaffolding Not Meeting Standards

The complex scaffolding you see on sides of buildings of construction zones require proper construction with suspension ropes and appropriate counterweights. A study done by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that of all the scaffolding injuries, 72% of the workers slipped or their support gave way.

Slip and Fall Protection

One of the most widespread workplace concerns for safety is slip and fall protection. This stems across all varieties of industries, in both office settings and on-the-job sites. The OSHA standard requires employers to maintain safe walking surfaces and areas surrounding them, such as steps, handrails, elevator platforms, etc. Anywhere people are walking, needs to be free of cracks, change in elevation, spills, etc. The National Floor Safety Institute states that slips and falls account for over 8 million emergency room visits per year, are the primary cause of lost days from work, and are the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims. Preventing these from happening to both employees and visitors is key to protecting your company and its workers.

Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection can also apply to multiple industries, not just those in laboratories or construction zones. Anything from dust, fog, smoke, sprays, dust from mixing dry ingredients, and solvent vapors – even from paint, can all cause sickness or death when inhaled. OSHA signage, labeling, and respiratory protection devices should always be used and displayed for all employees.

Electrical Problems

If you work at a business, this applies to you, unless you work in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity. This standard takes a lot of time to read through and determine what your site’s specific needs are to avoid electrical problems. The amount of electricity used, and types of electricity conducting materials vary per industry. Electrical wiring problems can stem from grounding circuits, temporary wiring, conductive materials, and more – and should be installed and maintained properly.

Non-Compliance Citations

Being cited for OSHA non-compliance is not only expensive, but can completely ruin a company’s reputation. OSHA defines five types of violations served for non-compliance. Serious, Other-Than-Serious, and Posting Requirements all cost $13,260 per violation. Failure to Abate also costs $13,260 but per DAY beyond the abatement date. Abate means to end or reduce something, so failure to end a violation will result in that fee per day until it is resolved. The third penalty is Willful or Repeated violation to the tune of $132,598 per violation. Ouch!

If you ever suspect a company is not following OSHA compliant safety practices and procedures, know that there are whistleblower protections through OSHA for anyone refusing to operate machinery deemed unsafe by safety standards, or reporting unsafe conditions to OSHA. It is always better safe than sorry. OSHA also provides support to businesses to ensure compliance. They offer free, confidential on-site consultation programs in all 50 states, D.C., and several U.S. territories. They will walk through and assist in establishing or improving the safety and health programs on the site.

First Response takes your safety very seriously and trains in OSHA compliant practices to keep your business safe, knowledgeable, and compliant. Contact us any time with questions or to schedule your in-house training that will leave a lasting impression with your employees.

 

 

 

Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan

Even after 23 years of conducting training, we continue to build our business one satisfied customer at a time. Interest is generated amongst your employees by creating a fun learning atmosphere