Building a successful safety program

Date Posted: 05/15/2023
Work Safety

To build something, you first need a foundation. The foundation of a successful safety program involves creating, reviewing, and updating all of the required programs, plans, and procedures that OSHA requires. Once that foundation is established, employers can expand into best practices that go beyond the regulations and more effectively protect workers.

Getting started requires knowing all the requirements that apply to your operations. Despite a common misconception, OSHA does not list requirements by industry or business type such as retail or manufacturing. Rather, employers must determine which requirements apply based on their operations and workers’ exposures.

Where to start?

With so many different OSHA regulations, employers can easily overlook some requirements. Even if you don’t know that a particular standard applies to your business, OSHA can still cite for non-compliance.

Some requirements apply to nearly any type of business. These might include:

  • Developing an emergency action plan,
  • Maintaining exit routes,
  • Inspecting walking-working surfaces,
  • Training on using or handling chemicals (even custodial staff using cleaning chemicals), and
  • Training to handle or stack boxes or other materials.

For most other regulations, employers must evaluate operations to determine which requirements apply. Employers may need to train forklift operators, provide personal protective equipment, ensure proper machine guarding, develop lockout/tagout procedures, or provide training on bloodborne pathogens.

Beyond the basics

Even when an OSHA regulation does not specifically require a written plan or employee training, documenting procedures and training workers on them is a best practice — and even if not written in the regulations, written plans or training may be necessary to avoid an OSHA citation for unsafe conditions or behaviors.

For example, OSHA’s regulation on material handling doesn’t specifically require employee training. However, if workers stack materials haphazardly or block exit routes, OSHA can issue citations — and those violations could cause worker injuries or deaths.

It’s been said that expertise is really just a mastery of the basics. Once an employer has the basic foundation down, it can continue to build upon that foundation to create excellence.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Safety Topic Webcasts

To learn more about creating and maintaining a safety program, watch our archived webcast from May 25, 2023, titled, “Safety 101: Know the Basics of Building a Successful Safety Program.” This webcast provides an overview of OSHA’s program requirements, best practices for businesses of all sizes, and of course will cover how to build and sustain an effective safety and health program. Log in or start a trial to watch the archived webcast today!

E-mail Newsletter

Sign up to receive the weekly EHS Insider email newsletter for safety articles, news headlines, regulatory alerts, industry events, webcasts, and more.