Workplace heath and safety concerns are a priority for most employers today, given the steep human and financial costs of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Then, of course, there are the costs and hassles involved in running afoul of OSHA requirements, which provide a strong incentive to prioritize safety as well as regulatory compliance. However, as any employer who strives to keep their operation compliant knows, those requirements, like those of any government agency, are not always clear and user-friendly.
Getting a handle on exactly which requirements apply to your workplace and exactly how to fulfill those requirements isn't easy. There is often a lot of confusion surrounding them, even among legal professionals – a fact that Curtis Chambers, a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), illustrates quite well in a recent blog post on his experience as an expert witness in a lawsuit.
Once you feel you finally have a clear and accurate understanding of the regulations and requirements relevant to your operation, you can be sure that updates or revisions will be released to complicate and confuse things once again. In short, not only is navigating OSHA requirements difficult and confusing, it can seem like a never-ending task. So what can the average employer do to make navigating OSHA regulations a little easier?
Do Your Own First-Hand Research
When it comes to regulations and requirements that can have such a big impact on your business, second-hand information isn't the way to go. While reading and researching all those regulations can be tedious, it can help ensure that you do not fall prey to common misconceptions or misinformation that could put your organization at risk for accidental OSHA violations. The official OSHA website has a great deal of information to help employers understand general and industry-specific requirements. Reading OSHA enforcement reports can give you examples of specific issues that have tripped up other employers, and looking into emerging issues that OSHA is investigating for purposes of proposed rule making can help you keep ahead of rule changes – you'll find both on OSHA.gov.
Reach Out For Clarification
If you are not 100 percent positive that you understand all the requirements that apply to your workplace, reach out for help. OSHA offers Compliance Assistance Specialists to explain requirements and answer questions, among other resources to help enhance understanding and compliance. Your local OSHA office is the place to call to get in touch with these consultants in your area, or you can go to OSHA.gov for more information on the services they offer.
Choose Professional Health and Safety Services Carefully
Implementing effective and OSHA compliant safety procedures, policies, and programs generally involves some professional help. Vetting those professionals carefully is essential to ensuring that state and federal health and safety standards are met. Among the more important factors to look into is the record of a professional or company you're considering in terms of challenges – regulatory and legal – to procedures and programs they have designed and implemented for their customers. How often have their methods or programs been challenged, and did they hold up to regulatory and legal scrutiny? The goal is to choose professional help that has a solid track record of providing effective and legally defensible workplace health and safety programs.
Read the requirements first hand, take the time to seek clarification, and hire professionals that have an exceptional track record of ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local employment regulations – including OSHA requirements. While nothing can make navigating OSHA requirements pleasant, these steps can make it a little easier.