How Important is OSHA?
12/10/2008 2:00 AM
The importance of OSHA
Does the term OSHA make you worry about hazards and accidents? It shouldn't because OSHA was enacted with the goal to keep workers safe rather than just avoid hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, enacted in 1970, has proven to make the workplace safe for millions of workers. The agency works to keep over 130 million employees safe and healthy at work. Complying with OSHA is not about following protocol but taking proactive steps that lead to a more productive and happier workplace.
How to comply
Avoid the confusion and stress associated with OSHA by following these steps:
1. Clarify with OSHA what the health and safety guidelines are and get information on how to best follow them. Knowing the rules helps you to create a more safe workplace.
2. Establish or keep following safe work practices. Making real changes to your workplace, such as adding a light to a dark workspace or putting down a nonslip rug, can prevent accidents.
3. Provide protective equipment appropriate for your workplace. Whether that be having employees wear safety googles and hats or putting rubber stoppers under doors that have a lot of traffic, anticipate possible hazards.
4. Train employees regarding safety policies and procedures as well as how to avoid hazards. Giving employees training helps them to be responsible for keeping the workplace safe for everyone.
5. Train managers as well. Managers can be a great asset because they can spot safety issues workers may miss and be available during inspections and accident incidents. A trained manager can answer questions, fill out incident reports, and respond to concerns about regulatory compliance.
Benefits of OSHA
Following OSHA makes for a safer work place. Since it was enacted deaths and accidents have been noticeably reduced. And while initial costs to make work a safer place may seem high, over time the lower medical expenses, fewer OSHA penalties, and more employee time spent accident free means you save money. The savings on medical and legal expenses are high incentives for you to prevent accidents and deaths. When workers can see the workplace is safe and understand there are fewer accidents, they often have more incentive to work hard.
OSHA does more than just set guidelines. OSHA inspectors visit workplaces to look for the safety measures you have put in place and identify potential hazards. They also respond to each accident and workplace related illness. When OSHA inspectors visit your workplace, it is important to verify the inspector's identity and to accompany him or her throughout the inspection to take notes and answer question. Train employees on how to handle an inspection including treating the inspector with respect and answering questions clearly. Make the inspections as easy as possible so that you can comply with the regulations and quickly return to focusing on your day to day work.
OSHA enforces compliance with citations and penalties. If you are not in regulatory compliance or have a workplace accident or illness, you will have a short time period to pay the fine or appeal the citation. It is best to pay any penalty as quickly as possible. This will save your business extra fines and violations for failure to pay. Since OSHA exists to protect and prevent, you should contact them after an incident to ensure you are taking steps to keep your workplace safe.