Safety needs to be at the very top of every business priority list. There is no debating this and if your organization feels differently then there is a problem. With that said, safety reporting and safety auditing must be an integral part of the everyday operation of any small, medium or large organization.
Safety Management Systems
The foundation of any effective Safety Management System actually starts at the top. Senior management must be 100% committed to establishing an effective safety program or your safety incentives are doomed from the onset. I understand that it may seem that we have been overly negative or overly harsh regarding the need for these safety program fundamentals, but the fact of the matter is, there can be no substitute for these critical pieces.
Any Safety Program will need to be tailored to your specific industry, but whether you are strictly offices or handle highly dangerous chemicals on a daily basis, there is a safety management system designed just for you. The first place to look is toward the safety regulations that apply to your type of business and they come in a few varieties:
- Federal Safety Regulations and Guidelines
- State and Local Safety Regulations and Programs
- Third-Party Safety Regulations and Standards
- Company Specific Safety policies and Procedures
The Federal Government
In the United States of America, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration governs workplace safety regulations. OSHA, as it is often called, was created as part of the Department of Labor as a result of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed into law by Richard Nixon with just a few days left in 1970.
OSHA maintains a set of regulations called the Code of Federal Regulations Title 29, which has over 3000 parts and sub-parts and can easily fill a 3-inch binder.
29 CFR is federal law, the regulations that are outlined in these documents are not open for discussion, they must be complied with or OSHA has the right to penalize your organization in the form of finer or even stiffer penalties.
State and Local Authorities
Many states have created their own version of OSHA, at last count 22 states had a State-run Safety Program that covered private and state/local government workplaces. An additional 6 states have programs that cover state/local government employees only and the remainder is federal OSHA only states.
Aside from any potential Safety and Health regulations your state may have, there will also potentially be regulatory requirements for the environment, waste disposal, building codes. fire protection laws and much, much more.
States will most certainly perform their own audits of your facility and can impose their own penalties and fines. Some states will even have specific safety requirements for things such as worker’s compensation insurance, like the formation and maintenance of a safety committee within your organization.
Business Travel Gadgets recommends that you check your state and local government websites for assistance with health, safety, and environmental regulations. Do not assume that the state will contact you regarding these requirements or when they do, it may be too late.
Third-Party Safety Regulations
Just like the rest of us, the government very often prefers to NOT reinvent the wheel. Where safety is concerned this very often means adopting a “third party” organization’s recommendations and making it their own. Below we’ve listed a few third party regulations that you should be aware of:
ANSI (American National Standards Institute) – ANSI is a not for profit organization that develops “consensus” standards, meaning that they use the input from industry experts and government officials to develop a group of standards that everyone agrees will be effective.
Many ANSI standards are adopted by the Federal, State and local government as well as individual companies that wish to employ their own, usually stricter standards. One such common standard is ANSI Z87.1 OSHA utilizes this standard as the benchmark for eye and face protection. This ANSI standard outlines the impact resistance, testing requirements and proper care of protective eyewear and face protection.
NFPA (National Fire Protection Administration) – Many people think that the NFPA is already a part of the federal government and maybe that’s because the National is in the name, but they are not for profit third party organizations, just like ANSI.
The NFPA sets guidelines for fire prevention and protection and additionally establishes standards for electrical safety as well. The NFPA sets standards for fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, oil-burning equipment, fuel dispensing systems, fire alarm systems, laboratory chemical storage and much, much more.
NFPA standards are widely adopted within the manufacturing industry, building industry and of course federal, state and local governments.
HMIS (Hazardous Material Identification System) – The HMIS system is an interesting beast and ChemSafetyPro.com explains the system nicely in the article I’ve linked too.
Many of you may be familiar with an HMIS label, they can be found everywhere. And although OSHA has not officially adopted HMIS, many companies use the system to complement their Hazard Communication Program which is an OSHA regulated program.
An HMIS label describes lists the 3 main potential hazards for most chemicals as Flammability, Health Hazards, and Physical Hazards. The system then rates the hazard in each of these categories on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 meaning little to no hazard and 4 meaning extreme hazard.