Being an employer carries with it a huge amount of responsibility. You’re in charge of the business itself, the people you employ, and all of the related information and operations. Strong employers embrace this responsibility and step up to the challenge of ensuring they’re doing the best they can in all areas.
As you evaluate your business processes, a major area to consider is workplace safety. How do you ensure your employees are safe at work? Are there hazardous conditions in your office? Although thinking about safety can feel overwhelming, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) clearly outlines employer safety responsibilities, making it a bit more manageable to assess how you’re doing.
Here are some key employer safety responsibilities as outlined by OSHA:
Providing a Safe Workplace
First and foremost, you are responsible for providing a safe workplace for your employees. This encompasses preventing injury to the best of your ability, managing any hazards or injuries that arise as safely as possible, and ensuring all employees have the power to make their workplace safe for themselves.
Surveying Workplace Conditions
One direct responsibility associated with ensuring a safe workplace is regularly surveying and assessing the workplace for any hazards. You can assign a manager to complete this task; just be sure that they repeat it on a regular basis. Potential hazards to look out for include chemicals, electrical hazards, or anything that could jeopardize a person’s health.
Eliminating Hazards …
If your survey identifies hazards in the workplace, it is also your responsibility to eliminate them. Whether it’s a chemical spill that needs to be safely cleaned or a cord running across a walkway that should be moved before someone trips on it, you must fix or remove the problem as soon as possible.
… or, Minimizing Them
There are some instances in which you cannot remove the hazard. For example, maybe there’s a missing floor tile, but you cannot replace it right away. In these cases, you must take action to minimize potential damage. In the example given, you should consider taping or sectioning off this area so people are aware of the missing tile and can avoid stepping into the hole.
Communicating with Employees About Safety
It’s dangerous to assume employees will know what’s hazardous or that they’ll learn about it from coworkers. It is on you to provide clear, consistent, and regular communication with employees about everything from hazards to safety procedures to how to handle potential adverse events.
Properly Equipping Employees
For employees who do have to work in hazardous conditions or with hazardous materials, it’s up to you to ensure they have the proper tools and/or protective gear for the job. Some jobs are hazardous by nature, but that doesn’t mean that hazard can’t be managed.
Training on workplace safety should be provided for all employees, ideally during the onboarding process and then at regular intervals throughout employment. Those workers who will face potentially hazardous conditions should have specialized training in addition to the education all general employees receive.
Posting OSHA Information
Your employees should know they have direct access to OSHA reps in the event there are concerns they don’t feel comfortable bringing to their manager. Post OSHA contact information and/or posters throughout your workplace.
Maintaining Good Records
If anything does happen to compromise a worker’s safety in the workplace, you are required to make a record of it in an official OSHA log of workplace-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: If you have fewer than 10 employees or work in a low-hazard field, you may be fully or partially exempt from this requirement.)
Providing Access to Records
Finally, you are responsible for making these illness and injury logs accessible to employees and/or their representatives whenever needed to ensure transparency and accountability.
Workplace safety is a broad concept that applies to employees, the work environment itself, and the data and documents in a workplace. It’s critical to consider your responsibilities as an employer often and be sure you’re following the law and keeping everyone safe.