Four Steps to Earning an A+ in Safety
What is your first reaction when an OSHA Inspector shows up at your door? Does a wave of panic wash over you? —Thinking of that frayed electrical cord you’ve been meaning to replace or those mislabeled, uncovered containers of cleaning solvents you’ve been meaning to clean up and organize. Or are you at peace? — Knowing that your Safety and Health Plan is in tip-top shape, your employees just finished their refresher training courses, and you’ve recently completed a safety walkthrough and addressed all the potential hazards you found.
It’s a safe assumption to say that everyone would prefer the latter state of mind when confronted with this situation. Yet, it may also be safe to assume that many would not readily welcome an OSHA inspector into their workplace if they had the option. The reason for this may be the fear of the unknown — Have I done all that is required to ensure a safe workplace for my employees? Have I missed something in my Safety and Health Plan? It is often confusing and can be overwhelming to keep track of all the safety and health requirements that you must implement in your workplace. Especially now, in a time where there are new safety guidelines from CDC and OSHA specific to COVID-19 preparedness and prevention and each State and local municipality is taking a different approach to what practices businesses must implement before they are legally able to open or continue to operate.
Ensuring the safety, health, and prosperity of your company and employees does not have to be so overwhelming. My advice to you—do your homework! Become educated on what regulations your company must comply with and how to go about implementing policies, procedures, and safe work practices in an effective and efficient way.
To build and foster a culture of proactivity when it comes to safety, it is important to engage the entire staff in staying up to date on regulation changes, trainings, and facility walkthroughs. One way to do this is to have a safety committee that includes at least one member of each department. Getting involved in PRINTING United Alliance’s Safety Recognition Awards Program can help get you started with this. They provide monthly reminders for safety walkthroughs, posters and tools to help facilitate continuous learning, and resources for building and maintaining a safe work environment such as how to put together a safety committee and a template for meeting minutes. Furthermore, PRINTING United Alliance’s Advocacy page, home to First to Know updates, which provide the industry with any changes made to relevant safety regulations including updates regarding COVID-19.
Once established, maintenance of your program is equally as important as creating it in the first place. This isn’t like cramming for a chemistry exam the day before and forgetting the material as soon as you turn it in. The details of safety procedures need to be ingrained in you, your supervisors, and employee's daily activities so that it becomes second nature. You must be aware of when relevant regulations change, consistently hold refresher trainings, and conduct facility walkthroughs to be on the lookout for corrective actions that can be taken. Be proactive and preventative, not reactive or complacent.
Lastly, set yourself up to get recognized for your hard work! It's a big deal to keep an entire company safe, no matter how large or small, so celebrate that accomplishment! Similarly, it is important to put a positive light on safety rather than always focusing on the scary or negative “what if” scenarios. As mentioned above, PRINTING United Alliance offers participation in the Safety Recognition Award in which you can earn points by implementing safety in your workplace. Earning enough points will result in an award and recognition for your company! OSHA offers recognition for safety as well through their 3 in 30 Program that launches during Safe and Sound Week. This is the second year that PRINTING United Alliance has partnered with OSHA to host a Printing Industry specific version of the 3 in 30 program.
Both OSHAs and PRINTING United Alliance’s 3 in 30 programs require you to take three safety related actions in 30 days. The actions can include a variety of activities such as having a safety meeting, attending a safety-oriented webinar, providing safety training, etc. Aside from being an extra incentive to prioritizing safety, participating in these programs helps foster a good relationship with OSHA and lets them know that you are invested in safety. Plus, it shows them you are using the resources available to you to improve safety and mitigate unsafe circumstances. Perhaps next time OSHA knocks on your door, you can break the ice by leading them to your 3 in 30 badge hanging on the wall!
Opportunity to Ask Questions & Get Answers
PRINTING United Alliance has many resources available to help you address any and all of your safety concerns and build a robust and effective Safety and Health Program. Tune in to this webinar on July 27th entitled Safe and Sound: Don’t Stick Your Hand in Moving Equipment! to learn about the importance of a strong Safety and Health program, how to build and maintain your own program, as well as how to get rewarded for your safety efforts in much more detail and have the opportunity to ask questions directly.
Heather Nortz is the Sustainability Programs Coordinator for PRINTING United Alliance. Her primary responsibilities consist of running both the Sustainable Business Recognition and Safety Recognition Award Programs. She also contributes to industry specific research on matters of sustainability trends and environmental safety and health regulations. She regularly publishes articles and blog posts on these topics and consistently updates the PRINTING United Alliance website with advocacy related content. Nortz recently graduated from George Mason University with her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a concentration in Human and Ecosystems Response to Climate Change.