Despite an intense focus on occupational health and safety, there were still over 5,000 work-related deaths recorded in the US at the last count.
Every business should make it a top priority to keep their workers from becoming another statistic. It’s the right thing to do, plus you could end up in serious trouble if you don’t.
How do you go about this? It all starts with efficient OHS management.
Complying With OHS Standards
The ISO 45001 standard provides a framework for evaluating your compliance requirements and meeting them when managing occupational health and safety in your workplace.
Meeting these requirements also assures you cover all the bases when it comes to the legalities involved in OHSA compliance and proves your commitment to safety.
The first step is formulating an OHS policy statement for your enterprise.
Setting up an OHS Policy Statement
Without an OHS policy to guide you and your employees, all your efforts will come to nothing. You need clear rules and boundaries to prevent everyone from doing what they think best.
A policy statement helps clarify your aims and expectations regarding health and safety practices at work.
A good OHS policy should contain the following:
- The value and philosophies that guide your OHS program
- Clear goals and expectations aligned with your policy statement
- Highlight its intention to keep employees safe
The statement should emphasize that both management and staff are accountable when it comes to OHS. It forms the basis of your safety management plan.
Things to Consider in Your OHS Management Plan
The first step in any OHS plan is a risk assessment. Unless you can pinpoint what might go wrong, you’ve no hope of preventing accidents.
Trial and error are effective, yet undesirable, ways to find out what can go wrong. Go through every aspect of your business with a health and safety professional to identify ways to keep your workers safe in line with existing legislation.
These measures are the nuts and bolts of your safety management plan and a top priority in any business’s safety policy. Bearing this information in mind, your safety plan should include a list of ways to support and implement this policy.
- Safe working procedures
- Regular safety meetings
- Safety education and training
- Addressing potential hazards to eliminate them
- Encouraging ongoing employee participation in OHS measures
It’s vital that your policy can adapt to changing circumstances when needed.
Major Policy Considerations
With your guidelines and expectations laid out, the next step is implementing this policy in line with your goals.
For starters, you should identify these goals. For instance, would you like to maintain your 100% accident-free record, or increase the number of incident-free shifts? Remember, setting realistic goals makes it easier to get your employees on board.
Ideally, you should hire a suitably qualified and experienced health and safety officer to help you oversee your OHS management efforts. If you own a small business, it’s often best to appoint an existing staff member to fill that role.
This person is responsible for enforcing your OHS policy and assigning related activities.
Ultimately, the responsibility for OHS compliance lies with the business owner, so you should devote considerable thought and effort to these aspects.
Practical Aspects of Health and Safety Management
Beyond a framework for action, there are several concrete steps you should follow in your quest for optimizing workplace safety. These include:
- Ongoing steps to identify and control hazards
- Preventive measures against injury
- Health promotion programs
- Measures to encourage active employee participation
- Provision of adequate resources to fulfill your policy aims
- Setting up a safety and health management committee
- Ensuring workers can participate fully in this committee
- Emergency preparedness training
A periodic review of your policies and procedures is vital for ongoing OHS awareness and compliance.
Elements of Incident Reporting
Although every OHS policy and management plan aims to prevent accidents, you must know the legalities involved when there is an incident at your place of work.
According to national legislation, you must report any of the following incidents to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration:
- commuting accidents
- occupational accidents
- dangerous occurrences
- occupational diseases
You must report all such incidents within the specified time frame according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Legally, you’re required to investigate every incident and put measures in place to prevent a recurrence. These investigations are important because they help you to:
- Plan future safety initiatives
- Identify any failings in your OHS management plan
- Identify previously overlooked risks
It’s not enough simply to conduct the investigation and leave it at that. You must re-think your OHS plan in line with your findings.
OHS management software can help you keep track of incidents and manage them more effectively.
Protecting Your Workers
Reporting and incident investigations are a vital part of OHS management, but they’re retroactive measures. Protecting your workers from fire and providing urgent care when needed are also top priorities.
The OHS Administration provides valuable guidelines for complying with fire risks and provision of first aid to injured workers. As an employer, you must ensure that your workplace meets the minimum requirements when it comes to first aid stations, qualified first aiders, and fire fighting equipment.
At the very least, you’ll require one first aid box and someone appointed to take care of emergency arrangements. At least one person must have appropriate training to administer basic first aid.
Quick response in an emergency can save a life.
Read This Also: 5 Ways of Identifying Hazards in the Workplace
Embrace Compliance to Make Your Business a Safer Place
It’s never a good idea to take shortcuts when it comes to OHS management. All the laws and regulations involved with occupational health and safety might seem restrictive and tedious, but they’re there for a reason.
If you want to enjoy maximum productivity, enhance your worker safety, and avoid legal problems, make compliance a top priority in your workplace.
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