Analyzing Your Worksite
It is your responsibility to know what you have in your workplace that could hurt your workers. Worksite analysis is a group of processes that helps you make sure that you know what you need to keep your workers safe. You may need help in getting started with these processes. You can call on your state OSHA Consultation Program or employ private consultants for this help.
Gather specific facts about your situation. Before you make any changes in your safety and health operations, you will want to gather as much information as possible about the current conditions at your workplace and about business practices that are already part of your safety and health program. This information can help you identify any workplace problems and see what's involved in solving them.
The assessment of your workplace should be conducted by the person responsible for the safety and health program and/or a professional safety and health consultant.
- Request a consultation visit covering both safety and health to get a full survey of the hazards that exist in your workplace and those that could develop.
- Establish a system, such as vendor consultations, to get expert help when you make changes and to be sure that the changes are not introducing new hazards into your workplace. Also, find ways, such as through trade groups, to keep current on newly recognized hazards in your industry.
- Make a commitment to look carefully at each type of job done in your workplace from time to time, taking it apart step-by-step to see if there are any hidden hazards in the equipment or procedures. Some initial instructions from a consultant may be necessary.
- Set up a system of checking to make sure that your hazard controls haven't failed and that new hazards haven't appeared. This is usually done by routine self-inspections.
- Provide a way for your employees to let you know when they see things that look harmful to them and encourage them to use the process.
- Learn how to do a thorough investigation when things do go wrong and someone gets sick or hurt. This will help you find ways to prevent recurrences.
- If you've been in business for a while, take the time to look back over several years of injury or illness experience to identify patterns that can lead to more effective prevention. Thereafter, periodically look back over several months of experience to determine if any new patterns are developing.
Acting on your assessment. Once you know what your hazards and potential hazards are, you are ready to put in place the systems that prevent or control those hazards. Your state or private consultant can help you do this. Whenever possible, you will want to eliminate those hazards. Sometimes that can be done through substitution of a less toxic material or through engineering controls that can be built in. When you cannot eliminate hazards, systems should be set up to control them.
Here are some actions to take:
- Set up safe work procedures, based on the analysis of the hazards in your employees' jobs, and make sure that employees understand the job procedures and follow them. This may be easier if employees are involved in the analysis that results in those procedures.
- Be ready, if necessary, to enforce the rules for safe work procedures by asking your employees to help you set up a disciplinary system that will be fair and understood by everyone.
- Where necessary to protect your employees, provide, at your own cost, personal protective equipment (PPE) according to published standards and be sure that your employees know why they need it, how to use it, and how to maintain it.
- Provide for regular equipment maintenance to prevent breakdowns that can create hazards.
- Plan for emergencies, including fire and natural disasters, and drill everyone frequently so that if the real thing happens, everyone will know what to do, even under stressful conditions.
- You must ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of employee health. This does not mean that you must provide health care. But if health problems develop in your workplace, you are expected to get medical help to treat them and their causes.
Fulfilling requirements To fulfill the above requirements, consider the following:
- Have an emergency medical procedure for handling injuries, transporting ill or injured workers, and notifying medical facilities with a minimum of confusion. Posting emergency numbers is a good idea.
- Survey the medical facilities near your place of business and make arrangements for them to handle routine and emergency cases. Cooperative agreements could possibly be made with nearby plants that have medical personnel or facilities on-site.
- If your business is remote from medical facilities, you are required to ensure that a person or persons be adequately trained and available to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies must be readily available for emergency use. Arrangements for this training can be made through your local Red Cross chapter, your insurance carriers, your local safety council, and others.