This guide will tell you all you need to know about OSHA’s new Safety and Health Program
Why Are OSHA’s Guidelines Important?
Accidents such as injuries or illnesses can hurt your company. Losing a worker costs money and can throw your business into disorder.
Negative impacts that accidents can bring to your place of business include:
- Lost morale
- Low work rate
- Many workers quitting
- Hurt company reputation
- More investigations about safety issues
- Loss or damage to material, machinery, and property
When workers and bosses work together to improve safety conditions, a business often sees great results.
Benefits from safer places of business include:
- Builds trust between workers and bosses
- Increases communication
- Improves product, chemical process, and service quality
- A great business reputation
- Business makes more money
OSHA’s goal is to find and fix problems before accidents happen. As you can see, not only will your places of business be safer but there are many additional benefits to being safe.
Why Were the Guidelines Updated?
A lot has changed since 1989, as such the guidelines have been updated to the times.
New additions since 1989 to take note of:
- Places of business have gone from fixed to mobile
- New technology brings different problems
- More diversity means every worker doesn’t speak the same language
- Aging workers are at a higher risk of physical problems
- Things learned about safety issues over the years
- Increased temps and contractors change workplace relationships
- More emphasis on involving workers
- An improved program to check business safety
- Includes practices that started under previous guidelines
- Aligns with national and international standards
Starting the Program
For a safety program to work best, workers and bosses should be on the same page.
Bosses should be leaders that place safety as a key value of the company. Bosses need to present a role model for following safety procedures and provide an open environment for talking about safety concerns. Employers, managers, and supervisors should be trained on chemical process safety concepts as well as worker rights.
Worker participation involves workers helping to design, put in place, and test the guidelines. All workers should be trained and play a role in all aspects of the program. They should each have a responsibility and know what they have to do in case of problems during the chemical process.
If there are any obstacles to worker participation they need to be addressed by the boss. Potential obstacles include language differences and a lack of information.
Risk Identification and Assessment
It’s important that you identify and assess the potential safety problems in the workplace and chemical process. This will help you to catch and prevent problems from happening.
The first step is to collect and review information about potential risks from information in and outside of the chemical process plant.
The information you find in the plant and office includes operating manuals, safety data sheets, inspection reports, injury records, and incident reports. It is also recommended to collect information from your workers through directly asking them or conducting a survey.
Safety information can also be researched. OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC all publish important information. Additional resources include labor unions, occupational safety and health committees, as well as worker rights groups.
It’s important to set aside a regular time to check the workplace and chemical process with your workers. During these checks, all areas of operation, equipment, and work processes should be taken into account. Regular checks are important because problems occur when maintenance isn't paid attention to during the chemical process.
You should use checklists and a camera while making your rounds. A checklist will help to ensure that your chemicals are being handled with care. Photos or videos are useful to take note of problem areas that need to be addressed.
An up to date list of chemicals is required by OSHA. It should contain all relevant information about the chemical and manufacturer. If the information is out of date, you should call the manufacturer to address the issue.
You should also make sure that all of your labels align with GHS standards during the chemical process. Labels should identify the product and contain a signal word. They should also have hazard, precautionary, and supplier information and statements.
Chemical manufacturers should have sent out a new SDS on June 1, 2015, that aligned with the new GHS standards. If you didn’t receive one, contact OSHA so they'll know you took action to fix this problem and record all attempts you make to obtain this document. Many SDSs can now be found online for quick and easy access.
During checks you should take also take note of:
- Floor risks
- Electrical risks
- Equipment operation and maintenance
- Fire protection
- Work and chemical process
- Emergency procedures
In regards to the chemical process, it’s important that you take special note of health risks. Gas, although invisible, can have a harmful effect on your workers. You should check medical records for skin problems and diseases.
Chemical safety problems may result from:
- Low chemical exposure limits
- Highly volatile chemicals
- Chemicals used in large quantities
- Unventilated spaces
- Toxic chemicals
It’s important to check for potential physical risks such as the temperature in the warehouse as well as any sources of radiation. Heavy or odd lifting should also be taken into account.
You should have a detailed plan for investigations. You should know who will be involved, what materials are needed, and have the forms ready so the investigation can begin as soon as possible. You should also train investigation teams.
You should be prepared for any emergencies that may happen and have plans in place. These emergencies include fires, chemical releases, spills, disease outbreak, medical emergencies, and structural collapse. The more prepared you are during the chemical process, the safer you and your team will be.
Have Controls In Place
To prevent safety problems you should identify control options through researching official publications, find out what controls other workplaces have taken and get worker feedback.
You should take steps to either control or eliminate serious safety issues as soon as possible. You should also avoid taking control steps that may make for a more dangerous workplace, such as exhausting contaminated air into the plant.
It's important to follow these steps in order to prevent safety issues:
- Remove the risk
- Replace the problem with a better solution
- Isolate the problem
- Change the work process
- Wear protective gear
You will need to develop a control plan to address all known issues. This plan should focus on the most serious risks and place long-term precautions in place. It’s advised to assign the responsibility for maintaining and implementing these precautions to a well-trained individual or team.
It’s important to regularly discuss potential improvements for a safer workplace. Make sure that all workers feel safe reporting any potential problems they find. Before putting any significant changes into place, make sure that you talk with your workers first.
After measures have been taken, it’s important to track progress to see if it’s working. Maintenance checks should be planned and conducted regularly.
Training for the Chemical Process
A safety training program for workers and bosses is key. The goal of these programs is to teach safety precautions and what to do in case of emergencies.
Topics that safety programs should discuss include:
- Risk awareness and understanding
- Knowledge on how to do the job safely
- Techniques on how to avoid creating safety problems
- What the emergency procedures are
- How and to whom to report incidents and concerns
A classroom setting isn’t needed, as training can be done on the job site as well as by a peer. It’s important that the training is conducted in a way that is easy for the worker to understand. You should stress that the program only works as long as the worker takes part in it.
Employers, managers, and supervisors should receive extra training on how to respond to workers. They should understand the workers’ rights under the OSH Act and how to avoid discouraging workers from reporting concerns. Also, they should know the procedures for responding to injuries, illnesses, and incidents.
It's important that all workers are well-trained and regularly trained so they never forget the essentials to stay safe. It’s important that you make sure your workers are aware of the GHS-aligned SDS, shipped-label formats, and general HazCom procedures.
OSHA mandates that all new workers should be trained with an understanding of the chemicals they’ll be interacting with and surrounded by. Whenever a new chemical is introduced, all workers should also be trained on how to interact with it.
Stay Up to Date
Now that all of the safety precautions are in place, it's your job to keep track of all developments. The more you are on the ball, the fewer problems you'll run into.
For help with your chemical process safety needs, Contact Us Today!