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Safety program management

July 1, 2012

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How would a safety management system help our company meet its legal obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act?

Responding is Matt Terronez, business development manager, Grainger, Lake Forest, IL.

A comprehensive online safety management system can provide tools to help you identify and meet obligations under the OSH Act, including written documentation, establishing policies and procedures, and recordkeeping.

Written programs

Written programs help to document the people and practices needed to ensure workplace safety. For example, if dangerous chemicals are present, a written program can help communicate the proper chemical handling techniques to affected employees. It also can indicate what training is available.

Availability of written programs can help you keep your workplace in compliance with OSHA regulations. These should be customizable and allow you to remove sections that do not apply as well as edit or add information. You should be able to put your company name on the form, as well as the names of specific employees assigned to implementing specific written programs.

Policies and procedures

Federal law mandates that all employers, regardless of size, have written policies. Every workplace must establish rules of what it expects of employees. An online safety management program can provide customizable safety policies and procedures.

The use of policies and procedures by employers has been proven to increase productivity, compliance and retention. Lack of communication along with inadequate policies and guidelines have been cited as major factors in workplace legal disputes.

Recordkeeping

OSHA requires employers to keep records of occupational deaths, injuries and illnesses. Under OSHA law, an employer is required to fill out recordkeeping forms (OSHA Forms 300, 300A, 301) when an employee reports an injury or illness that occurred in the workplace. An online safety management tool can provide these forms electronically to allow you to document and manage an effective safety program.

OSHA guidelines and regulations apply to employers and employees in all 50 states. Exceptions include the self-employed; farms where only immediate family members work; employees of state and local governments (unless their state has OSHA-approved safety and health programs); and employees in mining, nuclear energy, nuclear weapon manufacture and segments of transportation industries. If you are in general industry, or industries as defined by Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910 as being industries that do not include agriculture, construction, maritime and others, or the construction industry and other industries, you must comply with OSHA law.

It is the obligation of all employers to familiarize themselves with the standards that apply to their specific industry and observe these standards at all times.

An online safety management system can provide tools to establish and monitor compliance.

Editor’s Note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as National Safety Council endorsements.

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