How to Keep Your Plant OSHA Compliant
How to Keep Your Plant OSHA Compliant
Maintaining OSHA compliance is not just a sign of your company checking some guidelines off a list somewhere in the sky. It is a concrete manifestation of dedication to keeping your employees safe and maintaining a standard of excellence for your company and its reputation. Failing to comply with OSHA regulations comes with its own set of punishments in case of a failed inspection, such as fines or even a plant shutdown. More importantly, it can lead to a dangerous and unproductive work environment. Let’s review how to keep your plant OSHA compliant for the good of you, your employees, and your product!
What is OSHA Compliance?
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has extensive regulations and guidelines surrounding workplace safety and employee practices. These involve everything from regulations surrounding hazardous materials, required safety equipment, and employee rights surrounding procedures, reporting, and injury response.
OSHA was established in 1970 in response to rising workplace and industrial injuries. Since then, it has served as the central administrative body responsible for regulating workplace safety, ensuring appropriate employee training, and maintaining a high standard of employee access to rights.
Proper implementation of OSHA compliance standards can massively improve the productivity and safety of a workplace. The direct consequences of reduced injuries, accidents, and downtime are clear, though there are further externalities to consider. Dedication to OSHA compliance demonstrates a commitment by the plant management to the employees and can enhance overall morale and productivity throughout the plant.
Read Your Industry’s Requirements
OSHA understands that every industry has its specific procedures and associated dangers and thus shapes its regulations for each industry. You can find a compilation of industry or even chemical and machinery-specific regulations on their website. These regulations are continuously changing and updating in response to the evolution of technology and workplace procedures, so check these regulations frequently or maintain contact with a domain expert who can ensure continued compliance.
Any violation of these regulations can lead to extensive fines, which are further levied based on severity and prior violation history. As of January 2022, a single violation will set you back a minimum of $14,502, though any ‘willful or repeated’ violation leads to an immediate ten-fold increase in the fine.
Develop a Facility Safety Policy
Now, in order to maintain compliance, it is crucial to examine your current workplace and identify where these regulations apply. This action starts with understanding the role of each employee in the workplace and what machinery and other potential hazards they interact with daily. Outlining roles and responsibilities clarifies who you should give certain special training to maintain OSHA compliance.
This step should lead you to an overall facility safety policy under which you have clear standards and regulations for each worker. This will include everything from job-specific procedures to things like first aid protocols and plant-level fire safety. Clear instructions, including specific OSHA ‘It’s The Law’ posters, should be available in a public space for reference. Training in these policies and other OSHA regulations is crucial both for new employees and long-term workers.
When developing this plan, make sure to review past incidents to see if you can pick out lapses in prior protocols or training. In this stage, it is important to engage directly with employees to determine where you can make improvements in current working conditions.
Address Current Hazards
When internally evaluating your own OSHA compliance and developing new safety plans, it is important to address shortcomings in your current procedures or equipment. Wear and technological obsolescence may well leave your core machinery damaged or outdated, and you should replace such machinery to enhance workplace safety. Other maintenance issues, such as worn-out safety guards or frayed wiring, can be directly cited as OSHA violations, on top of being dangerous and inefficient. Consider implementing a maintenance plan to prevent damage to company assets and avoid unnecessary downtime in the case of a preventable breakdown.
Crucially, for specific tasks, new technology can eliminate the need to expose humans to danger, relieving the pressure of significant numbers of previously necessary but complex regulations and safety procedures. Technology, like Ecorobotic’s storage tank cleaning robots, is being leveraged to remove the element of confined space entry by workers, significantly improving plant safety by removing a dangerous activity from your employees’ responsibilities.
When all else fails, your plant operations and your individual employees must know how to respond in case of an emergency. OSHA has extensive resources for planning for everything from natural disasters to on-site explosions to toxic exposure. There are set procedures for an immediate response, incident reporting, and damage clean-up. However, these procedures are only useful if you train your employees to implement them and are enormously beneficial when things go wrong.
Incorporate Regular Employee Training
OSHA compliance depends not only on careful self-assessment and planning on the managerial level but also on extensive and regular training of your on-site employees. Well-trained employees are much more likely to adhere to these regulations, which is an enormous benefit to their safety and the operations of the company over the long run.
A company that suffers from poorly trained employees or a string of low-level OSHA violations will see an increasing burden both from fines and a tarnished reputation. Regular training of employees and continuous evaluation of technological improvements and advancements for possible implementation will go a long way to ensure both operational efficiency and OSHA compliance.
Stay OSHA Compliant
Staying OSHA compliant is a critical part of running a successful plant. While you may need to get in touch with an expert or an administrator for more detailed information regarding the regulations your company must comply with and how to do so, this article has provided some significant directions for consideration. Suppose you pay attention to industry-specific requirements, develop a facility safety policy, address current hazards, and incorporate regular employee training. In that case, you should be well on your way to OSHA compliance.
When it comes to your plant, review what role other improvements to your maintenance plans or adopting a different type of maintenance framework can have on your OSHA compliance and plant safety. Finally, consider how outsourcing some maintenance or confined space entry tasks to improved robotic technologies, such as robotic storage tank cleaning, can decrease the burden on your employees.