There’s a knock on your company’s door. It’s the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
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 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 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 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OSHA specific to COVID-19 preparedness and prevention. Each state and local municipality is taking a different approach on what 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 is 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.
One way to accomplish this is to participate in comprehensive iLearning courses. PRINTING United Alliance’s Safety and Health iLearning courses will be coming soon to provide you with a guide to compliance specific to the printing industry. These courses will provide a safety program foundation and come with customizable templates for you to build a robust Safety and Health Program. Some of these resources are available now on our website!
And just as important as establishing your program is maintaining it. 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 engrained in you, your supervisors, and in employees' daily activities so that it becomes second nature. You must be aware 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.
To build and foster a culture of proactivity when it comes to safety, it is important the entire staff's engaged, 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 Program can help get you started. We provide monthly reminders for safety walkthroughs, posters and tools to help facilitate continuous learning, and resources for building and maintaining a safe work environment (e.g., how to put together a safety committee and a template for meeting minutes). Furthermore, PRINTING United Alliance's Advocacy page, with our "First to Know" updates, provide the industry with any changes made to relevant safety regulations including those regarding COVID-19.
Lastly, set yourself up to get recognized for your hard work and accomplishment in keeping your entire company safe — no matter how large or small! It's important to put a positive light on safety rather than always focusing on the scary or negative “what if” scenarios. In PRINTING United Alliance's Safety Recognition Program, participating companies that earn enough points by implementing safety practices receive an award! OSHA also recognizes safety efforts through their 3 in 30 Program that launches during Safe and Sound Week, of which PRINTING United Alliance hosts a printing industry specific version.
The 3 in 30 program requires you to take three safety-related actions in 30 days. These can include having safety meetings, attending safety-oriented webinars, and providing safety training. Aside from being an extra incentive to prioritize safety, participating in these programs helps foster a good relationship with OSHA and shows that you are invested in safety. Plus, it shows OSHA you are using the resources available to you to improve safety and mitigate unsafe circumstances. Perhaps the 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!
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 our July 27 webinar, "Safe and Sound: Don’t Stick Your Hand in Moving Equipment!" You'll learn in much more detail the importance of a strong Safety and Health Program, how to build and maintain your own program, and how to get rewarded for your safety efforts while having the opportunity to ask questions directly.