ESH – Environmental, Safety and Health – compliance involves a multi-pronged approach to managing the various aspects of workplace safety in accordance with state and federal regulations. The most successful companies develop comprehensive programs that secure the health and well-being of their employees, the community, and the planet as a whole.
The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) offers detailed guidance for various types of businesses, along with overarching recommendations for general industry. A quick checklist of compliance actions is outlined as follows:
Employers are required to provide written communications to inform employees about hazardous materials in the workplace.
Emergency Action Plan
OSHA mandates that employers have a detailed plan for safe response and evacuation during fire events and other emergencies. This goes hand-in-hand with the need for a documented Fire Safety Plan with specific exit routes.
Employers have the obligation to minimize danger by ensuring that floors, aisles, platforms, ladders, stairways, and other surfaces are clean and safe. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common reason for accidents in the average workplace.
Medical and First Aid
Businesses are required to have basic medical and first-aid providers and supplies on the premises. The extent of which depends on the nature of the business and potential hazards.
If employees use dangerous equipment on the job, the company must provide safeguards to prevent amputation and other serious injury. Equipment would include saws, slicers, power presses, and similar machinery. There are also Lockout/Tagout requirements to prevent machinery from unintended starts, along with Powered Industrial Truck guidelines for forklifts and related tools.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
OSHA dictates that employers provide PPE appropriate to the job. This can include hearing protection, eye protection, respirators, footwear, and other safety measures. Employees who work in confined spaces have additional protections under the law, as do those who have the potential to come in contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
While these actions fulfill the minimal ESH requirements for the average business, there are many other voluntary steps that a business can take to ensure they are in line with best practices. Some of these steps include:
Conducting a thorough worksite analysis provides a benchmark for ESH compliances activities. Analysis should encompass both existing facilities and planned new locations. Beyond a physical assessment of the worksite, a proper analysis will also review processes, procedures, and equipment.
Safety and Health Inspections
Employers should arrange for periodic site safety and health inspections in order to ensure that any new processes, procedures, or equipment have not introduced an unforeseen hazard. Depending on the workplace, this may also involve industrial hygiene inspections. Workers must also be active participants in the process with the necessary support to report possible violations and oversights.
OSHA recommends that companies closely investigate any workplace accidents and close calls, in order to determine suspected causes and possible hidden dangers. Employers should also look at injury and illness reports to identify any patterns that point to the need for greater protections.
Safety and Health Training
All employees must have a basic understanding of safety and health information. This understanding can be best validated by observing and interviewing employee on the job. Training is especially important for new hires and existing employees who are taking on new duties, as much higher injury rates are reported among workers who have recently taken on new tasks.
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