As you plan your business, there are many things to consider. All of your typical financial projections, product or service specs, marketing strategy, etc. Once you get your business organized and begin to hire employees, you’ll have to consider their safety and how you can promote a safe work place environment. That’s where OSHA comes in.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration legislation was crafted and passed into law in 1971, so that by now an entire generation has been raised under its protective roof. The assurance of a safe and healthy working environment has become a right, and no one remembers that 14,000 workers were killed on the job in 1970 alone. That’s all history, so what does it matter to us now?
Well, let’s start out where most of us were born – in a hospital. Hospitals are workplaces for thousands of employees, and OSHA protects them so that they can protect us. Hospitals keep all sorts of dangerous things around, and OSHA sees to it that dangerous items such as needles and surgical instruments are stored, used, and disposed of safely. Ditto for biohazardous materials or toxic chemicals. There are latex gloves, receptors for separate disposal of all sorts of things, regulation of exposure to Xrays, standards for the sterilizing of hospital rooms and equipment. Fire safety, clear hallways, siderails on patient beds – the list goes on. OSHA rules protect both hospital workers and hospital patients 24/7.
We want our children to be safe wherever they are, including at school. OSHA wants safe kids too. Teachers and other school personnel must comply with OSHA regulations developed for just that purpose, such as keeping first aid kits within reach of every teacher. Latex gloves must be available to every adult, to limit exposure to any contaminants when treating a child for sickness or injury. Schools must have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, regularly tested and updated. Any potentially dangerous housekeeping chemicals must be kept under lock and key, and a record kept of their use. Playgrounds must abide by safety rules in their construction and use.
From libraries to mortuaries, public places are required to maintain ‘a culture of safety’. This includes meeting OSHA standards designed to minimize slips and falls, such as clear and clean walkways. It also includes having shelves and bookcases that aren’t too high, that will hold the weight and bulk placed on them, and are not in traffic pattern locations. Public buildings must have electrical systems that meet OSHA wiring and standards. There must be fire escape plans and clearly marked emergency exits.
Warehouses, industrial complexes, and construction sites are inspected frequently for compliance with OSHA safety and health standards. Ships cannot load and unload without observing safety regulations. Airplanes cannot be built or flown without them, neither can houses and cars . If you have a business in your home, OSHA may inspect it. Businesses of all sorts have responded to OSHA rules by implementing safety programs of their own and providing safer working environments throughout the country. OSHA training has become a necessity for many businesses to ensure proper compliance.
Everything that can be done to safeguard the working man and woman is being done, but there are still thousands of OSHA standards violations every year, some of them resulting in fatalities. As to the question, “Who Needs OSHA?” it seems the answer is, we all do. So as you plan your business, keep in mind that you may need to implement and follow OSHA requirements.