HR Strategies works every day to keep our clients OSHA compliant, because we believe that safety in the workplace is of the utmost importance. Today, we want to remind you that safety should always come first, whether you are at work or at home. Tomorrow night, as kids across America take to the streets to collect candy, HR Strategies wants to remind you to talk to your kids about Halloween Night Safety. FedEx and Safe Kids Worldwide have created an excellent infographic with tips on how to stay safe this Halloween! Enjoy!
HR Strategies provides aid and counsel on a variety of government regulatory compliance issues. One of the biggest issues which HR Strategies aids client owners in is OSHA compliance. Recently, a client owner received an “on site” visit from two OSHA inspectors regarding a complaint reported to their office. Upon completion of the “on site” inspection, which included one-on-one interviews with selected personnel, a meeting was conducted to review the findings and closing remarks with the client. It became apparent the client was in violation of a number of serious OSHA standards; and that a citation and penalties would be forth coming.
HR Strategies was notified immediately by the client at the time of the “on site” visit, and was able to meet with the inspectors and client, and was also able to attend the review meeting on the findings and closing remarks. Upon receipt of the citation letter, HR Strategies took a pro-active approach to address the citations and provide the necessary training and documentation in a timely manner in order to potentially reduce the penalties that were identified. HR Strategies was able to present the “corrective action” items in an informal conference with the OSHA area director.
The client was very appreciative of the timely and thorough action taken by HR Strategies, including the back-up of having a professional HR team present at meetings with them, and the training provided to allow them to be in compliance going forward. The meeting was favorable, resulting in the reduction of the penalties by half the original amount.
Today we’re taking you back to the basics of one of the governing agencies that oversee labor and employment in our country. The agency which ensures employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful workplaces by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
“In 1970, the United States Congress and President Richard Nixon created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a national public health agency dedicated to the basic proposition that no worker should have to choose between their life and their job. The OSHA law makes it clear that the right to a safe workplace is a basic human right.
Since OSHA’s first day on the job, the agency has delivered remarkable progress for our nation. Workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths have fallen dramatically. Together with our state partners, OSHA has tackled deadly safety hazards and health risks. We have established common sense standards and enforced the law against those who put workers at risk. Our standards, enforcement actions, compliance assistance and cooperative programs have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries and illnesses.
Looking to the future, OSHA is committed to protecting workers from toxic chemicals and deadly safety hazards at work, ensuring that vulnerable workers in high-risk jobs have access to critical information and education about job hazards, and providing employers with vigorous compliance assistance to promote best practices that can save lives.
Although our task is far from complete, our progress gives us hope and confidence that OSHA will continue to make a lasting difference in the lives of our nation’s 130 million workers, their families and their communities.” http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3302-06N-2006-English.html
Rights and Responsibilities under OSHA Law
Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers MUST provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards. Employers must find and correct safety and health problems. OSHA further requires that employers must first try to eliminate or reduce hazards by making feasible changes in working conditions rather than relying on personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or earplugs. Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to eliminate or reduce risks.
Employers MUST also:
- Inform workers about chemical hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets and other methods.
- Provide safety training to workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand.
- Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling, required by some OSHA standards.
- Provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.*
- Provide hearing exams or other medical tests required by OSHA standards.
- Post OSHA citations and injury and illness data where workers can see them.
- Notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality or when three or more workers are hospitalized (1-800-321-OSHA ).
- Prominently display the official OSHA “Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law” poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the law
- Not retaliate or discriminate against workers for using their rights under the law, including their right to report a work-related injury or illness.
* Employers must pay for most types of required personal protective equipment.
Workers have the right to:
- Work in conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- File a confidential complaint with OSHA to have their workplace inspected.
- Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be done in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
- Receive copies of records of work-related injuries and illnesses that occur in their workplace.
- Receive copies of the results from tests and monitoring done to find and measure hazards in their workplace.
- Receive copies of their workplace medical records.
- Participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.
- File a complaint with OSHA if they have been retaliated or discriminated against by their employer as the result of requesting an inspection or using any of their other rights under the OSH Act.
- File a complaint if punished or discriminated against for acting as a “whistleblower” under the 20 additional federal laws for which OSHA has jurisdiction.
The above is just a quick snapshot into the intensive Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Please visit OSHA’s website, www.OSHA.gov, to find out more. The website also provides information on standards, enforcement, reporting and record keeping, complaint procedures, and additional assistance. In addition to having a great website full of important information, OSHA has recently introduced a mobile app for employees/employers:
•Heat Index for Outdoor Workers: Find out your local heat index and what precautions you should take to stay safe.
As always, HR Strategies is here to help our clients with regulatory compliance in respect to the many aspects of OSHA.
In continuing with our National Safety Month theme, the Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us again. Beginning June 1st and ending November 30th, it is important to recognize that while not all of us are in danger of a direct hit by a hurricane, we are all prone to heavy rains, storms, and flooding. According to Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) at Florida State, we’re in for an above average season. That means the continuation of an already wet Spring. You can read more about the hurricane forecast by clicking here.
If your business is on or near the coast, make sure you get familiar with the following hurricane safety tips from the White House:
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the FEMA National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS) or the American Red Cross.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER+ your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.