According to OSHA, Safety Programs... - 08/08/2016

Safety E-QuickTips

U.S. Compliance Systems, Inc.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Safety E-QuickTips is a weekly email designed to help Employers and Employees start their week with a short thought about safety in the workplace.

According to OSHA, Safety Programs...


Well, it’s week 3 in this series on the 4 Steps to implementing your company safety program. We started with establishing policies and procedures on safety and last week discussed how to communicate those policies and procedures (provide training) to your employees. If you happened to miss either one of the first 2, you can find them in our Safety E-QuickTip Archives.

So that brings us to performing regular and frequent workplace inspections. Without workplace inspections, it is impossible to know if your employees are working in compliance with both your policies and procedures and with OSHA standards.

Workplace safety inspections accomplish multiple goals:

  • They demonstrate your commitment to safety and fulfill an OSHA requirement.
  • They can be used to identify if one particular employee is failing to follow established safety procedures.
  • They can be used to identify if numerous employees are failing to follow established safety procedures which would indicate a failure of the company program or the teaching of the company program.

According to OSHA, safety programs "shall provide for frequent and regular inspections of the work sites, materials, and equipment to be made by competent persons designated by the employers." This could include: owners, project managers, superintendents, supervisors, and foremen.

What does "frequent and regular" mean?

Under normal circumstances, a documented inspection should be conducted at least weekly. This does not mean that anytime unsafe employee activities are noticed, they can be ignored. Always correct and document unsafe acts.

Often we find that the competent person is hesitant to write up inappropriate behavior on the work site for which he/she is responsible. Some say "it's not my job" to police safety, while others say they don't have time to write the employees up, so they just do verbal warnings. Whatever the case, if employees don't understand they will be held accountable for their actions they will continue to work in an unsafe manner.

What should you include in your workplace safety inspections?

Certainly, to the extent possible, general housekeeping should be kept up to snuff to enhance fire safety, reduce tripping hazards, and eliminate falling of stored materials and spilled chemicals. Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and required postings, including emergency phone numbers, are necessary items and easy to check.

It is also very important that you evaluate what hazards your employees will be exposed to and then establish procedures that will protect them from those hazards. Job hazard analysis (JHAs) will help you to accomplish this.

We have also found it very helpful to create a workplace checklist that makes it easier for the competent person to document that proper safety procedures are being followed.

When should workplace safety inspections take place?

Randomly and unannounced. This allows the competent person to see the safety measures utilized by employees during normal operations as opposed to fulfilling the requirements of a planned inspection. There is no time that an inspection is inappropriate. In fact, any time unsafe acts are discovered, they should be corrected and documented.

Anytime we talk about safety we always talk about documentation. It can protect the company from costly OSHA citations and with OSHA penalties going up 78% as of the 1st of August, documentation of your safety efforts has just become a lot more important.

The last item I want to talk about today is the hiring of outside safety consultants to inspect your workplace. This can be a great help and add real value to your program if it is used in conjunction with your own ongoing workplace safety inspection effort. Third party workplace safety inspections cannot stand alone.

Always remember this:

  • You can't delegate safety. If your competent persons cannot identify improper safety procedures, they are not competent persons.
  • If supervisors and employees on your job site are aware of a safety audit, there is a good chance that, while the auditors are present, they will follow rules to the "T", but go back to their old ways in the auditor's absence.
  • Utilizing your own competent persons for inspections will ensure that your employees are working in a safe manner every day, not just when outside consultants are on the job.

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Thanks for Reading and Please - Work Safe This Week!

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U.S. Compliance Systems, Inc.
Phone: 1-888-475-5353
Fax: 1-888-925-5353
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