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Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR Ė Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety Ė Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When Youíve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
SAFETY SOLUTIONS
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Getting Familiar with OSHA

As the person responsible for safety in your organization, you must be familiar with the federal agency for safety and health and what it requires of your organization. Too many times we forget that worker safety is paramount in the way we conduct business. If we did not have our skilled workforce, we would not be in business, So this month I would like to go over what OSHA expects from an employer.

What Is OSHA?

OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency charged with improving and ensuring the safety and health of the nation’s workers. OSHA was established by the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).

This ACT state” Each employer shall furnish to each employee, employment and a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious physical harm”. OSHA has subsequently set forth regulations for many types of workplaces and many types of work-related activities. We’ll cover the requirements of these regulations in later chapters.

What About State Safety Regulations?

States have two choices when it comes to safety. They may adopt the OSHA’s federal regulations, or they may have a state plan; however, the state plan must have requirements as least as stringent as those of the federal regulation.

As a result, many states that have chosen to be “state plan” states have regulations that mimic the federal regulations in most particulars. Nevertheless, if you operate in a “state plan” state, you must familiarize yourself with state requirements.

Rights and Responsibilities Under OSHA

You as the employer or supervisor must be familiar with what OSHA requires of your organization. In addition to knowing safety rules for their areas, your managers and supervisors should particularly be aware of employee rights granted by OSHA.

What OSHA Requires of Employers

There’s a long list of employers’ OSHA responsibilities. Here’s what employers are required to do:

  • Meet the general duty to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
  • Be familiar with and comply with OSHA’s standards, rules, and regulations.
  • Keep workers informed about OSHA and safety and health matters, and make copies of OSHA standards available to employees upon request.
  • Warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Provide employees with safe and properly maintained tools and equipment, including appropriate personal protective equipment, and ensure that they use the equipment.
  • Evaluate workplace conditions, and minimize or eliminate potential hazards.
  • Establish operating procedures and communicate them to employees.
  • Provide required training.
  • Provide medical exams when required.
  • Report certain accidents.
  • Maintain required records of work-related injuries and illnesses, and post a copy of OSHA 300A, Summary of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses, from February 1 to April 30.
  • Post prominently the OSHA “It’s the Law” poster.
  • Post OSHA citations and abatement verification notices at or near the worksite involved.
  • Abate cited violations within the prescribed period.
  • Provide employees, former employees, and their representatives access to the Log of Work related Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner.
  • Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to the employee and others.
  • Cooperate with OSHA compliance officers.
  • Not discriminate against employees exercising their rights under the OSHA Act.
What OSHA Requires of Employees

While OSHA places most of its requirements on employers, it also places responsibilities on employees. Although OSHA does not cite employees for violations, it does require safe behavior from them. Specifically, employees should:

  • Comply with all applicable standards, rules, regulation, and orders issued under the OSH Act.
  • Follow all employer safety and health rules and regulations, and wear or use prescribed protective equipment.
  • Report hazardous conditions and job-related injuries.

What Rights OSHA Gives Employees

OSHA also provides employees with certain rights. Among those are the right to:

  • A workplace free from recognized hazards.
  • Review copies of OSHA standards, rules, regulations, and requirements.
  • Request information from the employer on safety and health hazards, precautions, and emergency procedures.
  • Receive adequate training and information.
  • Request an OSHA investigation if they believe hazardous conditions exist.
  • Have their name withheld from the employer if they file a complaint.

Have an employee representative accompany an OSHA inspector.

  • Respond to questions from the inspector.
  • Observe monitoring of hazardous materials and see related records.
  • Review the OSHA Log and Summary forms.
  • Submit a written request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for information on whether any substance in the workplace has potentially toxic effects in the concentrations being used.
  • Report unsafe conditions.
  • Refuse to work in unsafe conditions if the employee has a good faith belief that the conditions constitute an imminent threat and where there is insufficient time to contact OSHA, and where the employee has sought from the employer and been unable to obtain a correction of the dangerous conditions.

All supervisors and managers must know and respect these rights.

OSHA Citations and Penalties

While OSHA does devote substantial resources to training and helping employers to comply with its regulations, it also maintains a large force of compliance officers. Some inspections are randomly done, some come as a result of employee complaints, and some are the result of an OSHA focus on a specific industry or on workplaces with a history of safety violations. When OSHA inspectors arrive, generally unannounced, they will ask for entry and for an initial conference.

Technically, you don’t have to let them in without a warrant, but most employers do, because they can easily get a warrant, and after they do, they’ll probably be a little more sharp-eyed, and less inclined to accept explanations than they would have been had you let them in first time around.

Inspectors will often want to see your safety program materials and generally want to talk to employees. They may quiz employees to see if they understand the hazards with which they work, where the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) related to hazards are located, and so on. At the end of the inspection, there is a closing conference. If OSHA finds violations, they issue citations and levy fines.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.

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