First of all, what IS OSHA? OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is a federal agency regulated by the government, and it falls under the US Department of Labor. OSHA was established with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure that workers had the safest possible working conditions. This is accomplished and enforced by setting high standards and providing education, training, and outreach (visit osha.gov for more information).
To be OSHA compliant, it is your responsibility as an employer to provide a safe workplace for your employees. There are numerous ways to do this, but we’ll discuss a few of the most important ones that OSHA lists on their site:
Firstly, make sure that your employees understand any safety trainings that are delivered. If you have a multi-lingual staff, deliver the training in more than one language. Make sure that you don’t leave anything up to chance. Someone just understanding the “gist” of a safety training is not enough. Cater to your employees’ dominant language to make sure that no one misses anything. Next, make sure all hazards, chemical or otherwise, are clearly color coded and properly labeled so that employees can take proper precautions when handling them. Speaking of chemicals, all workplaces with chemicals should have a HazCom, or Hazard Communication, program in place. Finally, don’t forget to display the OSHA poster informing employees of their rights and responsibilities! These are just a few of the employer responsibilities required by OSHA to be compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Click here for a full list of Employer Responsibilities from OSHA’s website.
It’s very important that employers take responsibility, and especially important that they inform employees of their rights. Your employees are the ones who can and will step up and call OSHA if they feel there is a safety violation in their workplace. OSHA inspections typically only occur when a complaint has been made by a worker at a particular facility. OSHA requires that employees be entitled to a safe workplace, and if they feel that their workplace is unsafe, they have the right to speak up about their concerns without fear of retaliation. Employers are prohibited from taking action against employees who bring concerns to OSHA, as they are perfectly within their rights to do so. So, as an employer, it’s within your best interest to make sure no employee ever has a reason to raise a complaint in the first place. OSHA violations can result in hefty fines, and in extreme cases, even jail time.
Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment, and OSHA guarantees that right. Stay vigilant and do your part to keep your facility safe. OSHA’s website (osha.gov) is full of helpful information on how to keep your facility safe and OSHA compliant. For more ideas on how to keep your manufacturing facility safe and hazard free, check out more of our Spotlight on Safety entries here on the Folding Guard blog!