This is a guest post by Jay Acker informing about OSHA regulations that every business must follow.
It doesn’t matter whether you live in Alabama, Alaska, or the Virgin Islands. In every state and U.S. territory, you may find yourself overwhelmed trying to keep up with which Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations to consider when preparing for your safety inspection.
Fortunately, there are tools available to help you decipher your state’s rules and regulations. Before we break down the universal requirements in any state (and offer advice to prepare to meet them), let’s look at federal standards and state plans.
When it comes to meeting OSHA safety regulations, keep in mind that there are federal standards that create a minimum standard all states must enforce. Depending on where your business is located, your state may also have a state plan. Twenty-seven states and U.S. territories enforce state plans, which either makes changes or adds to the federal laws with state-specific information. The states and territories with their own plans are: Alaska, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, California, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Washington, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Utah, Wyoming, Illinois, Minnesota.
Of these states and jurisdictions, five — Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands — only operate state plans that cover public employees. California has the most progressive and stringent safety regulations.
But what if your business isn’t located in these states, or has locations in two or more of these states and territories? Let’s have a look at the OSHA regulations that every business must follow, regardless of where they’re located. These include:
- Safety Training
- Exit Routes
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Walking/Working Surfaces
- Emergency Action Plan
- Medical and First Aid
- Fire Prevention
- Injury/Illness Reporting using a tool such as EcoOnline
- Hazard Communication
- Blood-borne Pathogens
To find out if your state plan is different or has additional state OSHA requirements in any of these categories, contact your state plan agency. And don’t think of the general federal requirements as bureaucratic red tape. Instead, think of creating a safe working environment as an asset to your bottom line. Accidents can lead to emotional, productivity, and punitive damages that can quickly derail an entrepreneur’s dreams. By keeping employees safe, you ensure your company’s longevity.
In order to instill safety at every level of your company, follow these steps:
Create a Safety Manual
This legally required handbook is generally given to new hires on their first day at the job, but it’s not uncommon for it to go unread. Take the initiative upon hiring an employee to offer a safety debriefing. Show them emergency exits. Discuss plans in the event of a fire, electrocution, or a coworker’s health emergency like a heart attack or seizure. Point out first aid kit locations, and potential hazards like stairwells or hallways and bathrooms that may be mopped (and slick) during working hours. Show your manual to the OSHA inspector during the first few minutes of your inspection and be able to talk intelligently about it, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Schedule Regular Safety Training
From impactful videos to group discussion, it benefits your entire organization to regularly keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds. Part of training sessions should include actively talking through the steps your office would take in the event of an earthquake, tornado, or fire. Creating a plan and practicing it will prepare your office for the worst, while doubling as a team building exercise. OSHA inspectors often interview employees, so emphasizing safety to staff will keep the interview positive.
Utilize Signs and Warnings
From potential fall hazards to repetitive motion injuries, signs and posters remind workers about the dangers of any job. In office environments, posters that depict stretches and exercises to avoid back, elbow, wrist, and eye injury will help workers stay healthy and encourage productivity, while demonstrating an across-the-board emphasis on safety.
There are federal and state labor law posting requirements that cover issues like minimum wage, employee rights and equal employment opportunity. These postings need to be placed where employees normally gather, like a break room. If you have multiple locations, they need to be at all of them so every employee can regularly view them. The postings may also have color and size requirements, by state, that you will need to follow.
Address Hazards As They Arise
The last thing any business needs are passive employees who realize safety hazards but never speak up. Each worker should know that they are encouraged and expected to vocalize safety concerns to the company. Even issues as benign as a wall socket overloaded with plugs could result in an office fire that threatens lives and the company’s existence. Make sure that each employee knows who to speak to when they notice a potential hazard.
By taking safety seriously (beyond just meeting legal requirements), you’re more likely to meet OSHA standards. The first impression you make on the OSHA inspector matters. Remember that only 27 percent of companies pass their initial inspection without requiring some follow-up, so don’t worry if you’re asked to make changes. Make them quickly and document the changes with paperwork and photographs, and you’ll be on your way to safe, boundless growth.
About the guest post author:
Jay Acker leads a production team at safetyservicescompany.com. The company offers third party authorization services along with a complete set of safety training materials.