The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created guidelines for small business owners to aid them in creating and benefiting from a safety program. Although voluntary, these guidelines represent OSHA’s policy on what every worksite should have in place to protect workers from occupational hazards. The guidelines are based heavily on OSHA’s experience with the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). These voluntary programs are designed to recognize and promote effective safety and health management as the best means of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. This handout is the second of four outlining the creation and implementation of a safety program for a SBO.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to know the hazards in your workplace that could hurt your workers. Worksite analysis is a group of processes that helps you analyze these hazards. Help in getting started with these processes is available from your OSHA State Consultation Program, or you can do it yourself by reviewing the OSHA published booklet, Job Hazard Analysis, which is available on the OSHA Web site, www.OSHA.gov.
Here are some actions for small business owners to take to analyze their exposures:
- Initially, take the time to look back over several years of injury or illness experience to identify patterns that can lead to further prevention. Thereafter, periodically look back over several months of experience to determine if any new patterns are developing.
- Request a consultation visit from your State Consultation Program covering both safety and health to get a full survey of the hazards existing in your workplace and those that may develop. You can also contract for such services from expert private consultants, if you prefer.
- Set up a way to get expert help when you make changes, to be sure that the changes are not introducing new hazards into your workplace. Also, find ways to keep current on newly recognized hazards in your industry.
- Make an assignment, maybe to teams that include workers, to look carefully at each job from time to time, taking it apart step-by-step to see if there are any hidden hazards in the equipment or procedures. Some training may be necessary at the start.
- Set up a system to check that your hazard controls have not failed and that new hazards have not appeared. This is usually done by routine self-inspections that can be created by your workers. Periodically review these self-inspection checklists to ensure new processes or procedures have not introduced new hazards; add items that materialize from accidents or near misses in the workplace, and subtract from it those items that no longer fit your situation. Your State consultant can probably assist you to establish an effective self-inspection system.
- Provide a way for your workers to let you or another member of management know when they see things that look harmful to them and encourage and recognize creative thinking that leads to lower exposures.
- Learn how to do a thorough investigation when things go wrong and someone gets sick or hurt. This will help you find ways to prevent recurrences.
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