The foundation of a safety program lies in OSHA’s General Duty Clause:
» Provide a safe workplace
» Set clear policies on safe work behaviors
» Involve all levels of staff – from top leadership to lowest levels – in the program
» Ensure all employees are accountable
Performing a worksite analysis is the second element in your safety program.
Worksite analysis, according to OSHA, means that “managers and employees analyze all worksite conditions to identify and eliminate existing or potential hazards.” You should develop a baseline and then put in place a system for periodic updates.
Your worksite analysis should emphasize hazard assessment – recognition of any hazards – and then implementation of prevention and controls.
Finding and fixing hazards takes using a variety of methods, not just one.
» Safety and health self-inspections or audits
» Job Hazard Analysis
» Employee notification to management about conditions that appear hazardous
» Investigation of accidents and “near miss” incidents
» Analysis of injury and illness trends
» Preventive maintenance
» Formal inspections by third parties, such as an outside consultant
Why the need to use all types of assessments? Each type of assessment looks at different elements of your worksite. For instance, a self-inspection is more macro in nature whereas a Job Hazard Analysis is more micro, focusing on a specific task or location.
The third element in a safety plan focuses on hazard prevention and control. How do you do that?
Engineering controls. Control the hazard at its source meaning the “work environment and job itself should be designed to remove the hazard or substitute something that isn’t hazardous.”
Safe work practices. Standard operating procedures should always include safe operating procedures that will minimize, if not eliminate, the hazard. Having general workplace rules is another way to reduce exposur to hazards.
Administrative controls. OSHA uses this term to “mean other measures aimed at reducing employee exposure to hazards” such as additional relief workers, isolating hazards and limiting access, exercise breaks and rotation of workers.
Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is an additional measure of control when hazards cannot be eliminated and need to protect the head, eyes, ears, hands, feet and other body parts.
Meeting the requirements of the General Duty Clause to provide a safe workplace involves looking for hazards and correcting them.
Is your company being effective in its hazard inspection? If you need assistance in evaluating your safety program, contact me. Companies who do this and do it well see a positive impact to their bottom line.