OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a government agency devoted to keeping employees safe in the workplace. For small business owners and managers, it’s always a good idea to be on top of OSHA’s workplace safety requirements and regulations. They’re always changing, and it’s a fairly large liability to be lax about their enforcement.
If you are a business owner or work in a work setting that uses chemicals, here’s a few things you want to be aware of when trying to create a safe workspace.
Mandate Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, is used to protect the wearer against various workplace hazards. PPE could include safety goggles, face masks, coveralls or even a full body suit. These are just some examples of workplace PPE, but there is a wide variety.
Make sure you know when you need to mandate the use of PPE for your employees versus when you do not. It’s also important to keep your workplace PPE safe and in good condition.
For your employees, try implementing a PPE program. A PPE program should cover what sorts of hazards they’ll be exposed to and how to correctly use PPE in the workplace.
You should also label any dangerous and potentially hazardous chemicals that you have around the workplace. OSHA usually requires a workplace to properly label chemicals to help reduce confusion and the chance of on-site accidents.
Most workplaces need to label their chemicals using Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) labels. GHS labels can indicate chemical hazards in the workplace. GHS labels communicate danger or hazards without using any language, so they are often just visuals.
Know Worker’s Rights
Employees can file a complaint about workplace safety on OSHA’s website. They can also file a whistleblower complaint. As an owner, it’s good to be aware of the rights of employees in the workplace, especially when it comes to dealing with hazardous chemicals and the adequate use of PPE.
As a business owner, you should also make efforts to have a transparent workplace culture. In a transparent workplace culture, employees may feel more comfortable pointing out problems and you can work together to resolve them.
Knowledge is often the first step to making good policy. With proper knowledge of OSHA policies and chemical hazards, you can create wise policies to make a safe workplace for you and your employees.
Read this next: Safety First: How to Reduce Injuries in the Workplace