OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a Federal agency under the US Department of Labor that provides for industry safeguards and guidelines to ensure safety to the employee by creating a safe work environment.
Private, Federal, State and local government agencies come under the purview of OSHA and the onus lies on the employer to ensure that the regulations are carried out. OSHA standards demand strict compliance and employers need to display all the relevant posters at workplace at a place where the employees have access to them.
Employer duties as per OSHA
Though OSHA provides strict and necessary guidelines, the responsibility of ensuring them at workplace lies with the employer. OSHA laws are very comprehensive and cover different industries in different ways as the risks associated with employee life and health differ across industries. Employers should determine the OSHA safeguards that cover their nature of work and workplace. OSHA measures relate to every type of industry. These are discussed here briefly.
- Employee training for safety: It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the necessary training regarding the safety practices at work and the use of safety equipment present at workplace. The training should be in the form that can be understood by the employee and if necessary, training has to be provided in his native language.
- Record keeping and reporting accidents: The employers are expected to keep strict record of the injuries and illness of the employees and display them at a place where employees can see them. Any major accident leading to death or hospitalization of three or more employees has to be communicated within eight hours of its occurrence.
- Follow hazard communication standards: Proper standards and codes should be maintained to identify hazardous chemicals at the workplace and during transit. They should be labeled stating that the material is hazardous and the components must be displayed on the label. Employees should be trained to identify the threat and the way to act in case of fatalities.
- Emergency action plan, exit routes and fire safety: Employers must ensure that they have an emergency action plan. This plan kicks into action in case of emergency like fire or any other such typical situation. Regular drills must be conducted by the employer. When coming to the fire safety, employer should have a fore prevention plan at place. Portable fire extinguishers must be provided at work place and at least two fire exits should be there at work place. They should not contain any inflammable materials. The employees should be made aware of the exit routes to prefer in case of emergencies.
- General sanitation: General sanitation is a common measure to ensure personal health. The workplace should be clean and free from disease causing germs. Drinking water should provided and common glass for drinking water should be avoided. Perfect labeling should be done. Air quality should be checked and logs should be maintained.
- Medical and first aid: Employers must provide the first aid at workplace to manage little injuries at work. The first aid box should contain things as per the probable injuries and hazards. Employer should determine how many such kits he require and ensure training of the employees to use them properly.
Essence of compliance
Compliance of the safeguards and guidelines ensure that employee health and life is safeguarded. The practices also lead to a safer work environment. This leads to lesser illness and injuries and more work leading to the increase in production of the workforce. Happy and satisfied employees are more productive for a business than unsatisfied ones. It will save you from falling into legal complications coming because of workplace accidents or non-compliance of laws.