Creating and implementing a company safety program is one of the most important things you can do for your business. It can be a daunting task, but if you break it down into smaller steps, it can be done. This process is taken in part from the extremely helpful OSHA Quick Assistance resource.
Step 1 - Assign a Safety Coordinator
The first thing to do is assign a person to manage the initial process. It can be the owner, a manager, a supervisor, or an experienced employee. It is important that this person has experience and understanding of the work that occurs in the business. They must also be competent to understand the hazards of the workplace, and have authority to take steps to correct them. If you like, this person can be a temporary project manager until the permanent coordinator is assigned.
Step 2 - OSHA Rules That Apply To All
There are safety requirements that apply universally to nearly every employer. This need to be covered in the safety and health plan. The General Industry Safety and Health Plan includes all these subjects, plus more.
- Hazard Communication Standard - Any workplace that uses chemicals, even common cleaners, must comply with this standard.
- Emergency Action Plan - Employers must have a policy and plans to deal with foreseeable emergencies.
- Fire Safety - Employers must have a program to prevent fires, and a plan to deal with them when they occur.
- Exit Routes - Exit routes must be clearly established.
- Walking and Working Surfaces - Slips, trips, and falls are the most common cause of injury in the workplace. The employer must take steps to prevent these.
- Medical and First Aid - The employer must have a plan for dealing with medical emergencies.
All of these items need to be addressed in your safety plan.
Step 3 - Additional Requirements That May Apply
In addition to the general items discussed above, your company may have additional hazards that apply to your workplace. Common ones include
- Lockout Tagout - If your employees perform work that may have the risk of a release of hazardous energy, or unexpected startup, you need a lockout tagout energy control plan.
- Machine Guarding - If workers operate machinery such as saws, power presses, slicers, or similar equipment, you may be subject to OSHA's machine guarding regulations.
- Electrical - Workers exposed to electrical hazards may cause your company to be subject to electrical safety regulations.
- Personal Protective Equipment - If employees are required to wear PPE, the company must abide by the OSHA regulations on PPE.
- Respirators - If your workplace has hazardous atmospheres that cannot be eliminated with engineering controls, employees must wear respirators. The employer will be required to have a written respiratory protection program, medical evaluations, training, and fit tests.
- Confined Spaces - Workers who enter confined spaces that have hazards, must be covered by a permit system. The company must have a written entry plan, entry permits, and training.
- Blood or Bodily Fluids - Companies that have occupational exposure to bodily fluids must have a bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan, engineering controls, vaccinations, and training.
- Forklifts - If you use forklifts at your facility, the operators must be 18 or older, and must be trained and evaluated by their employer.
Step 4 - Perform Job Hazard Analysis To Identify Other Hazards
Every workplace will have some hazards that are rare or unique. It is important to remember that you can be fined for violating OSHA's General Duty Clause, even if you are not violating any specific regulations. The clause reads:
"Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
The Job Hazard Analysis is a great tool for identifying additional hazards in your workplace. The General Industry Safety and Health Plan includes both a JHA policy and the forms required for performing them. The job hazard process is:
- Observe the task.
- Break the task into steps.
- Describe the hazards of each step.
- Identify hazard control measures.
- Review, submit and implement the hazard control measures.
Once you have completed the JHAs for your major tasks, you will have a complete list of the remaining hazards that need to be dealt with.
Step 5 - Create Your Safety and Health Program
Once you have gathered all the required information, you can incorporate it into your safety and health plan. The General Industry Safety and Health Plan will cover all your basic requirements, and you can find any additional policy needs in our written safety policy section.
Remember that this is a policy for your business. Do not be afraid to make changes that are necessary to make it applicable. This program will be authorized by your company, the responsibility for safety and compliance is yours alone.
Step 6 - Train Workers
Employees need to be trained on the requirements of the safety and health program, as well as the equipment and procedures required to perform work safely. You can use your own materials, or upgrade to the Training Package offered with this product. Additional training products can be found in our Safety Training Compliance Kit section. Not sure about what training will meet your needs? Give us a call or chat with us online.
Step 7 - Record, Review, Report, Reinforce
Once your safety plan is established and training is completed, it is time to execute and monitor your program.
- Record - Keep a record of all work related injuries and illnesses, accidents and near misses, safety suggestions, and anything else that is related to workplace safety.
- Review - Review the recorded information to identify hazards and patterns that may cause workplace injuries. Take steps to eliminate these hazards. Review safety suggestions for ideas on improving workplace safety.
- Report - Employees should be informed of the effectiveness of the safety program, so they can help make suggestions and eliminate hazards. Annual injury and illness summaries must be posted every February.
- Reinforce - Without frequent monitoring and enforcement, even the best safety plan will lose effectiveness. Conduct regular audits for compliance. Populate the workplace with safety posters and reminders. Require periodic refresher training for safety subjects. Include safety concerns and procedures as part of the regular work review process.
It seems like a lot of work, but you don't have to go through it alone. If you have any questions, we are happy to help. If we don't know the answer, or have the product, we will try and point you in the right direction.