The federal bureaucracy has grown to the point where many companies must spend vast amount of time on regulatory compliance. The applicable rules are very complex. Even an unintentional oversight can mean substantial fines, or even worse. Large companies usually have plenty of resources to deal with these matters. But most SMEs are at a significant disadvantage. Resources that could be put to better use must be redirected to compliance.
Some Facts About OSHA
Since it was enacted in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act has helped American workplaces become safer. It includes some general rules which are applicable to everyone, including:
- Training requirements for workers,
- Testing for hazardous workplace materials,
- Giving workers access to medical data and workplace safety information,
- Ordering periodic OSHA inspections, and
- Protecting workers from retaliation and discrimination.
Also Read : – How to Maintain Safe Working Environment
OSHA applies to most private companies regardless of their number of employees. Sometimes, an exemption is available if there is an OSHA-comparable state agency. OSHA does not apply to independent contractors, immediate family members in some industries, and workers in certain regulated industries. OSHA is also inapplicable to public employers; private employers with government contracts are in something of a grey area.
SMEs have a duty to provide workplaces that are free from obvious dangers. Employers also have a duty to provide preventative safety equipment, such as gloves, protective eyewear, earplugs, and safe chemicals where available. Some specific duties include:
- Communicate Hazards: Written warnings in English are not enough. These communications should make liberal use of colors and symbols so that they are easy for almost anyone to understand.
- Maintain Records: Employers must keep track of all information related to workplace accidents. Such data must be available upon request yet also stored in a sfwe location. That’s particularly true if the data contains sensitive personal data, like contact information.
- Perform Tests: Employers must test work areas for possible health hazards. THat includes things like air and water samples. Employers must also give their workers vision, hearing, and other tests as required.
- Notice: If there is a fatal accident or one that puts three or more people in the hospital, employers must notify OSHA within eight hours. THis rule is not as clear-cut as it sounds. For example, multiple events, like a pre-existing injury and a workplace injury, sometimes cause fatalities.
These are only general standards and only a small percentage of the applicable rules. Certain industries have certain rules. For example, dental offices have very high standards regarding pharmaceuticals and other chemical agents, human factors, ergonomic hazards, bloodborne pathogens, vibration, noise, and workplace violence.
To comply with all these requirements, many companies either overspend on lawyers and other professionals or try to do everything themselves. Either approach could lead to disaster. To best protect your business, partner with a capable training company that communicates what you need to know without excess fluff.
For David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, health and safety is the responsibility of everyone in an organisation. This may seem tough, but the payoffs are huge: increased productivity of workers, increased bottom line, and greater consumer confidence.