If someone asked me why I talk about the importance of safety so much, I’d respond and say that repetition creates habits. And it's these habits that lead to results. Plus, it's the law.

OSHA requires employers to 1) maintain conditions or adopt practices reasonably necessary and appropriate to protect employees on the job, 2) be familiar with and comply with all standards that apply to them, 3) ensure that employees have and used PPE's (personal protective equipment) when required for health and safety.

Some of the hazards addressed by OSHA include: 1) toxic substances, 2) harmful physical agents, 3) electrical hazards, 4) slip/fall hazards, 5) trenching hazards, 6) hazardous wastes, 7) infectious diseases and pathogens, 8) fire and explosive hazards, 9) dangerous environments as to air quality, 10) machine hazards and 11) hazards in confined spaces. When none of these apply, OSHA has “General Duty Clauses” (Section 5(a)(1) which requires that each employer "furnish….a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees."

Remember the difference between standards and guidelines. Standards are set and revised on a regular basis based on OSHA's own initiative or in response to petitions from other parties. There is a posted schedule on the OSHA web site that shows progress of such standards. During the review/comment period, interested parties may make comments. These standards can be reviewed at www.regulations.gov. A guideline is a tool to assist employers in recognizing and controlling hazards. It is voluntary and not enforceable under the OSHA Act. Failure to implement part or all of a guideline is not necessarily a violation of OSHA’s general duty clause. Guidelines can be developed and changed quickly allowing employers to innovate to suit their particular needs.

The goal is always safety.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.