Establishing a Policy for Workplace Safety

Why should employers be concerned about the safety of their workplace?  The answer is simple.  Failure to be concerned about safety can actually destroy a business.  Also, it is an employer’s ethical responsibility to ensure that their employees are safe when they come to work.  There is also a lot of liability involved with accidents in the workplace.  OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s penalty for those that violate health and safety rules can range anywhere from $5k to $70k.  It is very important that you pay close attention to safety.

OSHA Regulations

All employers, no matter the size of their staff, must follow the regulations set forth by OSHA.  There are, however, a few exceptions when states have adopted certified plans for their regulations.  The only thing is that these standards are just as strict, if not stricter, than the normal federal standards.

Businesses that use independent contractors and volunteers are not bound by the OSHA regulations.  Workers that are considered employees that fall under OSAH include:

  • Employees whose actions are controlled by employers
  • Employees that can be fired

The smaller employers are not responsible for reporting illnesses and injuries.  This does not mean that they don’t have to follow the OSHA regulations.

Being in Compliance

First and foremost, companies must learn the safety standards that have been set forth by OSHA.  These are standards that must be adhered to at all times.

Each business will have to comply to their standards regarding safety exits, hazardous materials, ventilation, protective equipment, fire safety, sanitation and first aid.

Under the OSHA guidelines, employers have the responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace.  They don’t just have to be in compliance, they also have to think ahead to things that OSHA may not have considered.

Does this sound like an awful lot of work?  The good news is that there is help out there.  You can talk to your insurance carrier and see if they can send someone out to help make some recommendations to you.  They will usually be happy to do this for you because it will mean fewer accidents and fewer claims from your company.  There are also resources available from your chamber of commerce.  You can usually attend seminars and other training classes on safety.  Most of these classes are free, or low cost.

Get it in Writing

When you put a safety plan into action, you will want to make sure that you put it into writing.  The safety manual can be used to help employees know what they should do in case there is a fire or disaster at work.  Ensure that you have working fire extinguishers and first aid kits available to your employees.  The employees will need to know where to find these things as well.

Make sure that you conduct safety meetings with your employees to keep them up to speed. You can also consider giving an award or certificate each month for the safest employee.