It’s time to review your workplace safety program.
One way to start this process is to look at OSHA’s top 10 violations lists. Ask yourself, “are any of these hazards found in my workplace?”
Other steps to take may include:
- Review safety practices that apply to the hazards in your workplace, i.e., fall protection.
- Review any accidents, near-miss incidents, investigations and follow up actions taken and incorporate as needed into your safety program. This may include looking at OSHA logs, first aid logs, worker comp reports, and near miss reports.
- Review inspection reports and insurance surveys.
- Look for trends, i.e., are there commonalities such as the kinds of injuries and illnesses sustained, the time of day accidents occur, the location or the equipment involved.
- Make sure that all OSHA regulations that apply to your workplace are addressed.
Finding and fixing hazards typically takes a number of methods, not just one and you’re done. Other steps to consider include:
- Safety and health self-inspections or audits
- Job hazard analysis
- Preventive maintenance
- Formal inspections by third parties, such as an outside consultant
Once you know the hazards, you can make a plan to control them.
- Elimination of the hazard is always preferred. That could also include substitution of something less hazardous.
- Next, engineering controls are preferred because they take care of the hazard without a human factor, i.e., machine guarding, guardrails, using mechanical lifts, etc.
- Safe work practices included in operating procedures are the next best way to eliminate or minimize hazards. However, these require the human being to implement them. Good examples are lockout/tagout procedures and hand washing to minimize infectious disease.
- Administrative controls will not get rid of hazards, nor will they control them; limiting access or exposure, rest and rotation, barricades and signage are just a few.
- Personal protective equipment is the last option to use and is the least desirable because of the human factor involved. PPE may be the use of a glove or safety goggles. Somebody has to use the equipment and use it correctly every single time.
Just remember, under the workers’ rights, employees have the right to:
- Be trained in a language you understand
- Work on machines that are safe
- Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves of a harness and lifeline for falls
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
- Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector
- Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
- See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace
- File a complaint if you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealtful and do it without retaliation
Being proactive with regards to workplace safety is critical. Other good times to review your workplace safety program include:
- New equipment is required
- Update to Federal OSHA, State or Local requirements that affect your business
- New employees are hired
- Changes are made to your safety department
- Safety improvements are identified