Safety Management is a Top Priority

Safety must be a top priority in any workplace. As an employer, it is your responsibility to manage and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for your employees and visitors. However, managing compliance, keeping OSHA logs and documenting audits for the work environment can be cumbersome tasks. With today’s technology, managing an effective safety program can be done easily online.

Managing the complexities of workplace safety can be broken down into four distinct categories:

• Audit/Analysis
• Compliance
• Training
• Research

These components can easily be managed online using web-based templates, tools and tracking capabilities, helping to provide the following valuable benefits:

• Time savings
• Reduced training costs
• Lower Worker’s Compensation costs
• Lower incidence of injuries, accidents and exposure to OSHA fines

What Is a Safety Audit?

A safety audit is an inspection of the workplace to help employers and employees identify possible safety and health hazards. An effective safety audit will ask a series of questions designed to identify potential safety hazards in your workplace. Conducting a safety audit could save your company thousands of dollars in citations and insurance premiums.

To help with the audit, an online safety management program can provide you with an audit questionnaire designed to help you identify safety issues within your organization. In general, audit questionnaires can be paper-based or electronic. The advantages of electronic questionnaires are that they can be easier to organize, share, review, edit and store than paper versions. Additionally, a web-based Safety Audit Program can help you prepare a customized report identifying hazards that may be present in your workplace, provide best practices or strategies to help manage them, and list applicable OSHA standards with which your company may not be in compliance. This feature may be particularly helpful to small employers without the budget to hire safety and health professionals to evaluate their workplace.

If you do not have experience and knowledge of occupational safety and health issues, a safety audit questionnaire can alert you to many common hazards that may be present in your workplace. Based on your input, the questionnaire provides feedback about your work practices, materials and equipment used in your workplace.

After completing the safety audit questionnaire and identifying hazardous work practices, materials and equipment, a comprehensive checklist can help you target specific areas that need improvement. An effective checklist provides an employer with detailed questions regarding specific safety topics. It is a valuable tool that helps employers and their employees comply with OSHA rules and regulations.

The checklist will help you further evaluate your workplace. It gives you the ability to identify OSHA regulations that may need to be reviewed in more detail. You will be asked a series of questions about your facility. Each question includes a summary of the related OSHA regulation which will help you understand the specific safety areas requiring compliance. Your completed checklist will then generate a report that lists the OSHA Regulations applicable to your business.

Maintaining OSHA Compliance

Federal OSHA regulations are the laws that U.S. employers must follow to operate a safe workplace. They are focused on helping to eliminate hazards proven by research and experience to be harmful to employees’ safety and health. For example, most employers must ensure there are at least two exit routes available in a workplace to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency.

Depending on the state in which you do business, you may have to comply with additional state regulations applicable to your industry. These State Plans, as they are called, may have laws that go above and beyond federal regulations. You must provide access to the OSHA Federal regulations as well as any applicable State regulations to all employees.

To help you comply with applicable state and federal regulations, a comprehensive online safety management program should provide the following tools:

Written Programs

Written programs can help you document the people and practices needed to ensure the safety of your employees. For example, if there are dangerous chemicals present in the workplace, the written program can help communicate the proper chemical handling techniques to your employees. It will also indicate the type of training available. Per OSHA standards, many written program templates direct the user to designate and insert the name of a specific person (right into the written program document) who is responsible for that part of the program, which can also help you keep track of the people responsible for the safety and health of your employees.

Written programs can help you keep your workplace in compliance with OSHA regulations.

These programs should be customizable. Such programs should also allow you to customize written programs by removing sections that do not apply, edit them or add information that is specific to your workplace. You should also be able to put your company name on the form, as well as the names of specific employees who will be assigned to implementing the written program.

Policies and Procedures

Federal law mandates that all employers, regardless of size, have written policy guidelines. Every workplace must establish rules of what they should expect of their employees. An online safety management program should provide a customizable collection of safety policies and procedures that can be immediately distributed to employees and management personnel.

Safety policies may include a drug and alcohol policy, a policy for employee safety meetings, an employee accident and injury policy and many others. The use of policies and procedures by employers have been proven to increase productivity, compliance and retention. Lack of communication along with inadequate policies and guidelines have been cited as major factors in workplace legal disputes as well.


OSHA requires employers to keep records of occupational deaths, injuries, and illnesses. The records are used for several purposes:

- As an employer, you are required to report all recordable injuries and illnesses. Under OSHA law, an
employer is required to fill out Recordkeeping Forms
(OSHA Forms 300, 300A, 301) when an employee reports an injury or illness that occurred in the workplace.
- Injury and illness records are used by OSHA Inspectors to help identify and direct their efforts to the hazards that are causing injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
- Employers can use these records for discovering workplace safety and health problems and for tracking progress in reducing these problems. Once an injury or illness is determined to be recordable, certain procedures must be followed to accurately record this information.

An online safety management tool should provide these forms electronically to allow you to document and manage an effective safety program.

OSHA Regulations

OSHA guidelines and regulations apply to all employers and employees in all 50 states with exceptions including self-employed people, farms where only immediate family members work, employees of state and local governments (unless their state has OSHA-approved safety and health programs) and employees in mining, nuclear energy, nuclear weapon manufacture and segments of transportation industries. If you are in General Industry, or industries as defined by Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910 being industries that are static and so do not include agriculture, construction, maritime, and others, or the Construction Industry and other industries, you must comply with OSHA law.

OSHA standards have the same status as regulations adopted under other federal laws similar to the Internal Revenue Code. You must comply with these laws, or you can be penalized with citations and fines. It is the obligation of all employers to familiarize themselves with the standards that apply to their specific industry and to observe these standards at all times.

Establishing a Safety Training Program

An online safety management program should provide access to all Federal OSHA regulations along with relevant state OSHA regulations. OSHA requires employers to provide safety training for their employees. However, OSHA is flexible on how employers must provide training to employees, and recognize that the training needs of one workplace can vary from the needs of another.

It is rare that an employee in even a small company does not require some type of safety training. The most qualified person for the job needs, at minimum, orientation to the training of his or her job duties, and the training needs to be aligned with overall management goals. For example, the employer should instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to their individual work environment. OSHA imposes a general duty on employers to provide a workplace that is free from known hazards that will result or will likely result in death or serious harm.

The ability to teach the employee a particular skill or task is critical if business expectations are to be met. The results of a well-planned and executed training program can have far-reaching and cost-effective benefits. When employees know what is expected of them, they can help take a more active role in their own training and feel that they are truly helping the organization meet its safety goals. In turn, this can help boost job satisfaction, increase efficiency and reduce the employee turnover rate.

Training your employees on how to perform their job safely is critical. However, the delivery of training may need to vary by employee, function and location.
For example, a large company may have formal classroom training and a small employer may personally conduct training in an informal manner. Some locations may necessitate a classroom setting while others require that training be on the plant floor or jobsite. Other locations may be better suited for web-based training. Regardless of what type of training is chosen, it is important to conduct the right type of training for the specific employee or location.

Safety Training Items to Consider:

• Provide safety orientation for new employees
• Provide safety orientation for existing employees starting new jobs. This may include specific training on the hazards of their jobs and how to do their jobs safely (many OSHA standards include specific training requirements)

• Retraining
• OSHA standards change
• When jobs change
• When employees return from a long absence
• Training for onsite contractors
• After a close call or incident is recorded

An online safety management program should help provide access to safety training courses covering a wide selection of topics. The course formats should be available online as well as in live classrooms or designated work areas. The tool should provide tracking to identify the course completions for all employees.

Keeping Up-To-Date with Changing Safety Rules

Keeping up with the latest safety regulations and trends in the industry is a full time job. However, having immediate access to the latest information can minimize this problem. OSHA compliance has evolved into one of the most difficult challenges for any company, regardless of size.

Safety and HR professionals spend far too much time searching for information to help them comply with OSHA Regulations. Whether looking for recordkeeping forms, MSDS sheets or an explanation of the regulations, it is very difficult to find everything they need in one place.

An online safety management tool should provide robust search functionality regarding OSHA compliance that will help you maximize and manage your research time more efficiently.

Review and Improve

Review your safety program’s strengths and weaknesses on a continuing basis. Here are some tips for keeping your program up-to-date:

• Use OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Assessment Worksheet to find out how you are doing
• Review annually and as needed
• Investigate accidents, injuries, illnesses and close calls as they occur
• Conduct frequent (daily, weekly as needed) inspections of specific equipment and processes
• Evaluate your injury and illness statistics
• Document all your safety efforts
• Change analysis: Review new and changed processes, materials, facilities and equipment for hazards
• Ensure hazard correction systems are in place and working
• Evaluate the effectiveness of your training efforts by periodically using the checklist
• Listen to your staff: Do employees know the hazards of their jobs and how to work safely? Are managers enforcing safe work practices and praising safe behavior?
Online safety management tools can help provide efficient and cost effective methods to train employees on the importance of workplace safety.

Online SafetyManager is an easy-to-use online management tool to help you manage safety and risk more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Source: Content Partner Info:

Originally Published in Industrial Hygiene News

External Links:

Safety Audit

OSHA Recordkeeping


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