OSHA exists to protect employees while they perform their jobs. It is critical that workers remain safe so that we can continue to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. There may be many rules to obey, but knowing and comprehending them is essential for workplace safety.
However, we have discovered that simply knowing the OSHA rules is insufficient. It is necessary to actively pursue a safety culture and ensure that relevant procedures are followed. When this does not happen, fines, injuries, and even fatalities become a reality.
OSHA’s recent citation and finding of “willful violation” elicited specific input on how to best enforce OSHA guidelines.
So, what do we take away from this citation? How can we progress from simply understanding OSHA rules to fostering a safety-conscious workplace culture and ensuring our employees’ safety?
The four measures specified by OSHA in the citation are stated below to guarantee you are doing all possible to keep your employees safe and in compliance.
The first step is to identify potential hazards in your facilities or on the job site. Once these have been discovered, you can consult OSHA to determine how to effectively protect your workers while they are at work.
With a detailed understanding of the hazards and a comprehension of OSHA’s regulations for each hazardous location, you can next design rules unique to these areas to enforce safety. This ensures that proper rules are set for the specific task being done and that they are in accordance with applicable standards. This must be done for any and all foreseeable work areas.
Once the rules have been established, they must be communicated to your personnel. You must first educate your employees on the hazards. You may understand hazards, but this does not mean that everyone else does.
You can begin to advise on proper techniques after you are aware of the risks. These are the regulations you’ve developed that are particular to the hazard/s in order to either eliminate the threat or safeguard your people while they’re exposed to the hazard. Finally, but not least, confirm understanding with each individual. Before beginning employment, they must thoroughly comprehend the risk and the rules.
Isn’t it enough that you’ve effectively crafted rules related to the hazards in your workplace and communicated them clearly and exhaustively to your employees? Not exactly; our third phase is the execution. Here are some basic measures you can take to assist in the detection of violations.
You might hold briefings before and after the work is completed to gather feedback from those who will be directly impacted. It would also be prudent to have a supervisor on hand to oversee operations (this person should have a strong knowledge of the hazards and rules).
It is also critical to ensure that safety systems are properly built and operated. This will provide you with an ample opportunity to identify any infractions.
It is unavoidable that rules will be broken, lines will be crossed, and errors will be committed. When this occurs, we will address it in our final step. The important thing is to speak out IMMEDIATELY if you observe or hear of any breaches.
If you discover that the regulations are being broken on purpose, you should remove insubordinate workers from dangerous areas for their own and others’ safety. When regulations are not followed due to ignorance, retrain on the hazards and rules as needed. Because no one is flawless, it is your responsibility to provide a regular reminder of safe working procedures.
Find out what OSHA says about frequent dangers in your industry right away if you don’t already. There are hundreds of tools and training options available to help you learn. Consult with safety authorities, enroll in an OSHA training course, or conduct some online study.
There is no excuse for being ignorant these days. Every day, people’s lives are put in jeopardy in the workplace. Do your best to keep them safe.