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While workplace safety requirements can vary across industries, it’s important to realize that for these rules to be effective, it requires buy-in from employers and employees alike. These requirements may be issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as state occupational health and safety agencies, regulatory agencies, and municipalities.
Here are some of the ways that employers and employees can work collaboratively to ensure workplace safety requirements are met.
It may seem like workplace safety rules and regulations are typically things that are imposed upon employees, rather than something that employees have any say over. And while that may be true, there are many ways that employees take their safety into their own hands every day.
This can look like anything from choosing to avoid drugs and alcohol before and during work shifts to wearing personal protective gear or PPE as directed. Workplace safety requirements may include OSHA-mandated training, depending on the industry and the employee’s duties. Employers may add additional workplace safety training requirements, such as those required by the state.
When employees take requirements like completing pre-shift assessments – such as COVID-19 screenings – seriously, it improves the overall safety performance of an organization. An employee’s coworkers are protected from harm, and the employer is less likely to struggle with absenteeism, scheduling, and a loss of productivity.
Employers help keep their workers safe by ensuring that OSHA-required signage and posters are placed in highly visible places where they’ll be seen by employees. There is of course the general OSHA poster that outlines basic worker rights and responsibilities as well as who to contact for assistance in addressing violations; some states require that additional information be included on their own workplace safety poster. Additional signage should meet standards for communicating established levels of potential harm, such as danger, warning, and caution.
In some ways, employers have more tasks related to keeping workers safe. That’s because of OSHA’s general duty clause, which says that employers have an obligation to provide employees a working environment that’s free from recognized hazards.
Employers are required to provide employees with appropriate PPE that fits them well. Training must be provided in a language the employee can understand. And employers are to keep certain employee safety training records on file. OSHA also mandates that most employers report to the agency the rate of workplace illness and injury every year. Employers are also required to allow OSHA inspectors to carry out inspections and cooperate with requests for information, especially in the wake of a workplace accident that may have been preventable.
When both sides take their role in upholding workplace safety requirements seriously, it can make a significant difference in keeping employees free from harm while also preserving an employer’s productivity and even profitability. Employers and employees alike have distinct but interdependent responsibilities when it comes to safety. Understanding what they are from a high-level perspective can provide the kind of insight that allows more successful collaboration.
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