The safety handbook is needed in an organization to communicate and train employees in essential safety rules and guidelines required to comply with OSHA requirements and create a safe work environment. Therefore, OSHA encourages all employers to adopt a safety handbook and health program. Safety handbooks and health programs, known by various names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces.
Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace safety and health programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using safety and health programs, and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful safety and health programs are based on a standard set of key elements. These include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards.
OSHA has also released COVID-19-specific guidelines for limiting workers’ exposure to the coronavirus. In addition, according to the National Employment Law Project, at least 14 states have adopted comprehensive COVID-19 worker safety protections, and some cities have passed pandemic-related workplace safety ordinances. These rules mentioned, as well as others, need to be included in your safety handbook.
Several states’ executive orders require employers to regard the following guidelines and have them noted in a safety handbook:
- Ensure social distancing of at least six feet between employees and their coworkers and customers;
- Require a shopper to wear face masks;
- Provide face masks to all workers if maintaining a six-foot social distance is not always practicable;
- Supply employees with additional personal protective equipment (PPE) in addition to face coverings such as hand sanitizer, gloves, hats, etc.
- Improve inside ventilation;
- Provide employees with regular access to hand-washing and soap;
- If COVID-19 cases are found in the workplace, extensive cleaning is required, and management must notify workers when issues are discovered.
- General workplace safety rules
- Accident and injury reporting
- Safety risk reporting and responsibility
- Hazard identification, assessment, and control
- Hazard communications for chemical use, containment, labeling, and related risks
- Emergency evacuation
- Fire safety, control, and extinguishers
- Exit routes
- Safety signs
- Walking and work surfaces
- Medical and first aid
- Alcohol and drugs
- Threats of violence, severe weather, earthquakes, fire, and bomb threats
Even office environments have safety considerations for which they should have safety procedures. For example, companies involved in manufacturing, construction, or that use machines or devices that are, by nature, prone to accidents are obvious candidates to have a comprehensive safety risk management program.
These industries are also more likely to receive OSHA audits and feel the sting of higher workers’ compensation costs. There are also state-by-state considerations where some states impose additional requirements beyond Federal OSHA. Although several organizations have exemptions to some OSHA requirements, all organizations have risks that must be eliminated or controlled. For example, organizations with fewer than ten employees and retail employees are not required to maintain the OSHA Log 300 and other documentation requirements. Nevertheless, many of these still have the risk of accidents and injury.
Creating a Safety Program
An effective safety program creates a safe work environment, complies with OSHA, and reduces workers’ compensation insurance costs.
MARCH 2, 2022: OSHA Form 300A Accident Summary Filing Deadline
Top 7 Reasons You Must Own a Safety Handbook
Safety Policies and Procedures
Define and communicate safety expectations and procedures. Procedures may include the following, depending on your business:
- OSHA recordkeeping and injury reporting requirements, process, and forms;
- Safety committee guidelines;
- Injury reporting and corrective action guidelines and training;
- Policies that communicate safety rules and good practices;
- Creates a safe work environment for your entire staff;
- Controls your worker’s compensation insurance costs;
- Keeps you up to date on COVID-19 State Policies.
What Safety Measures Should our Company Have in Place?
Safety Includes Protection and Proper Equipment that Fits Correctly
Respirator Fit Check (PPE)
- Although negative pressure respirators are an accepted way to reduce exposure to airborne contaminants, engineering controls should always be your first choice.
- Sometimes strategies such as adequate ventilation can reduce contaminants to levels where personal protection is not required.
- However, if you choose this equipment, you must be sure of two things: Have you selected the proper respirator with the correct filtering media, and does it fit properly?
- No amount of training or respiratory equipment will provide the protection you need unless a good seal is made.
- Before entering a contaminated atmosphere, you must perform a test to guarantee a proper seal between your face and the respirator’s facepiece.
- A “Fit Check” provides proof that an adequate seal exists. The fit check consists of a negative and a positive pressure seal test.
- This test can be conducted by following the manufacturer’s instructions or following the guidelines.
NOTE: These tests are easily performed on valves equipped with valves but may be challenging to do on “valveless” and disposable respirators.
Negative Pressure Test:
- Don the respirator according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Cover and seal the filter cartridge(s) using the palm of your hand(s).
- Gently inhale through the respirator and hold your breath for approximately 10 seconds.
- The respirator should collapse slightly.
- Check, feel and listen for leaks around the facepiece.
- If there are no leaks, it can be reasonably assumed that there is a good seal and the respirator is not leaking.
Positive Pressure Test:
- Cover the exhalation valve with the palm of your hand.
- Gently exhale, but do not break the seal around the facepiece.
- The respirator should expand slightly with a slight positive pressure increase in the facepiece.
- If there are no leaks and pressure loss, it can be reasonably assumed that there is a good seal.
- The only way to take full advantage of any negative pressure respirator you use is to be sure that you have a good facial seal.
- Conducting a fit check before entering a contaminated atmosphere provides that assurance.
- Set standards. Don’t be influenced by others around you who are negative.
- If you fail to wear safety glasses because others don’t, remember the blindness you may suffer will be yours alone to live with.
- Operate equipment only if qualified. Your supervisor may not realize you have never done the job before. You are responsible for letting your supervisor know so that the necessary training can be provided.
- Respect machinery. Putting something in a machine’s way will crush it, pinch it, or cut it. Make sure all guards are in place. Never hurry beyond your ability to think and act safely.
- Remember to de-energize the power before placing your hands in a point of operation.
- Use your initiative for safety protection. You are in the best position to see problems when they arise.
- Ask for the personal protective equipment or additional guidance you need.
- Ask questions. If you are uncertain, ask.
- Do not accept answers that contain, “I think, I assume, I guess.” Be sure.
- Use care and caution when lifting. Most muscle and spinal injuries are from overstraining. Know your limits. The few minutes it takes to get help prevent weeks of being off work and in pain.
- Practice good housekeeping. Disorganized work areas are the breeding grounds for accidents. You may not be the only victim. Don’t be a cause.
- Wear proper and sensible work clothes.
- Wear sturdy and appropriate footwear. These should enclose the foot fully. Avoid loose clothing and dangling jewelry, and be sure that long hair is tied back and cannot become entangled in the machinery.
- Practice good personal cleanliness. Avoid touching your eyes, face, and mouth with gloves or hands that are dirty. Wash well and use barrier creams when necessary. Most industrial rashes are the result of poor hygiene practices.
- Be a positive part of the Safety Team.
- Willingly accept and follow safety rules. Encourage others to do so. Your attitude can play a significant role in preventing accidents and injuries.