What is OSHA: An Employers Safety Guide | Boot World

OSHA: Everything You Need to Know

If you employ workers under your care, then you may have heard about OSHA rules and regulations. But what do you really know about the safety standards as it applies to the department of labor? Continue reading below to learn what is the purpose of OSHA, how it affects your business, and how you can enforce it with corporate footwear programs and other compliance protocols.


What is OSHA?


Firstly, what does OSHA stand for? OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

As a result of the passage of the Occupational and Safety Act of 1970 (OSH Act), Congress established the national public health agency to uphold its mission to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Ultimately, OSHA aims to reduce on-site:

  • Fatalities

  • Injuries

  • Illnesses

  • Hazards


How Does OSHA Work?


OSHA functions as part of the United States Labor Department, which is overseen by the Secretary of Labor. While the OSHA Act is a federal law, certain states have enacted their own OSHA laws to meet health standards and ensure a safe workplace. These state regulations precede those of the federal government. So, how it affects you as the employer depends on where your business operates.


Does OSHA Apply to You?


Rather than detailing who is covered by OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 chooses to specify who is exempt. From hospitality to healthcare, agriculture to architecture, if you have one or more employees, then you are obligated to adhere to OSHA regulations. An employee is anyone that you give a paycheck to but excludes the following:

  • Independent contractors

  • Self-employed business owners

  • Freelancers

  • Churches

  • Farms run by families

  • Federal employers and employees

While OSHA monitors both public and private sector employees, OSHA cannot fine federal agencies.


Moreover, if you oversee staff with another employee, you will need to select one of you to be held liable for your employees. Left to OSHA, the responsibility will be placed on the individual who:

  • Has the ability to determine employees’ duties

  • Has the power to change conditions of employment

  • The employees view as their employer

  • Manages employee payroll

In other words, OSHA will apply to protect employees. To whom it applies, is dependent on the individual business.



What Are OSHA Requirements?


As previously stated, the agency has established guidelines for businesses to help safeguard the health and physical well-being of workers. OSHA’s primary form of prevention is through education and safety training.

Wondering exactly what OSHA standards are? Here are the primary elements employers in any general industry are required to cover:

  • Hazardous Chemicals and Materials

  • First Aid Procedure

  • Fire and Emergency Protocol

  • Informational Posters

  • Documentation Requirements


Hazardous Materials


All hazardous substances come with a Material Safety Data Sheet from the manufacturer. These hazard communication sheets should be made available for your employees to access and refer to whenever needed. You are responsible for identifying these substances, informing workers on how to handle them, and how to treat injuries from them.


First Aid Procedure


Workers must be provided with information on first-aid procedures. For those with occupational exposure to blood-borne pathogens, they must receive information and personal protective equipment against such diseases that may be carried through bodily fluids. Although, all employees should know how to deal with it in case of an emergency.


Fire and Emergency Protocol


You must provide training on how to deal with fires, firefighting equipment, and an evacuation route. Moreover, you need to create an emergency protocol and establish a training program for your employees, to ensure occupational safety in the workplace.

If you have less than ten employees, then you can communicate the protocol orally. If you have more than ten, then it must be written and available for employees to review as needed.


Documentation Requirements


You are legally obligated to report incidents to the OSHA office nearest you. Workplace injuries and fatalities must be reported in every instance, without exception.

Documentation Exceptions

Further exemptions may be applicable for record-keeping. Any business with less than ten employees, unless mandated by the Bureau of Labor or OSHA, is not required to keep records of illness or injury. Low-hazard companies may also be partially exempt and not need to maintain records if they meet OSHA standards. Industries that may qualify for partial exemption include:

  • Finance

  • Real estate

  • Insurance

  • Retail


Informational Posters


Workers must know the rights afforded to them. The posters must be OSHA-compliant to avoid OSHA violations in the workplace. If you don’t wish to worry about the regulations on what must be included, you can order one from OSHA.


Workers’ Rights


From OSHA’s official website, your workers’ rights include the following:

  • Receive training in a language your worker understands

  • File complaints concerning health and safety violations

  • Report workplace injuries or illnesses, along with copies of medical records

  • Operate safe machines

  • Be provided any required safety gear and protective equipment

  • Protection from hazardous chemicals

  • Request an inspection by OSHA and to speak to the inspector about workplace health and compliance

  • View copies of injury and illness logs from previous workplace accidents

  • Review work-related injuries and illnesses records

  • Access copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace


Why Should You Care?


Before the passage of the OSHA act, there was no federal legislation in place securing safety against health hazards in the workplace. In the 1960s, up to 14,000 workers were dying each year, and over 2.2 million were unable to work due to injury or illness.

While certain elements may seem bothersome to adhere to, at the end of the day, you are ensuring that your workers are safe, and thus, your business can continue operating productively and efficiently.


The Risks


A quick glance at the numbers prove that feet are inordinately susceptible to injury in any general industry. Any job that involves movement will involve feet. And the more physical labor from walking, standing, operating machinery to lifting goods, the correlatively increasing danger your workers face.

Here are some statistics that prove the hazards your employees’ feet encounter:

  • The National Safety Council reported that, in the United States alone, slips, stumbles, and tumbles led to 44.5 million injuries, which then racked up $967.9 billion of loss for businesses.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted an average of at least 60,000 foot injuries a year that prevented people from going to work.

  • The average loss from one of those missed days of work is $9,600.

  • A survey conducted revealed the average compensation for a slip-and-fall injury was between $17,200–$27,500.

These injuries could also permanently disable the employee, impacting job performance, or walking abilities even after recovery.


Common Hazards


You are held accountable for creating a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. Prevent a fine, minimize potential dangers, and have a thriving business without you or your workers having to worry about their safety by avoiding these typical hazards:

  • Anti-fatigue mats – Although designed with good intentions, the raised surface can cause workers to trip.

  • Foot pain – Research conducted by Harvard has connected foot pain to sluggish strides and imbalance—a combination destined for a fall or stumble.

  • Unsafe flooring – Whether workers’ shoes lack traction to a smooth floor or walk on uneven terrain, the ground itself can pose a significant risk.


How to Implement Safeguards


By actively promoting foot safety, you can circumvent plenty of potential workplace accidents and mishaps. Consider implementing a few compliance protocols to minimize unsafe behavior:

  • Emphasize Quality Over Quantity – When you prize quality work over rapid service, workers will not feel the need to rush and, in their haste, accidentally place themselves at risk. This policy will inevitably be more advantageous for your service or product in the end.

  • Enforce Mandatory Breaks – Although similar to the previous, the distinction is that a tired worker is less likely to make mistakes. A chance to rest one’s feet will reduce strain and encourage good circulation. Both a mental and physical break also function to prevent fatigue and boost productivity as a part of occupational health.

  • Cultivate a Pleasant Environment – Further decrease foot pain and its associated injuries by creating a workplace that doesn’t unnecessarily add stress to your hard-working employees’ days.

  • Keep it Clean – Maintain the working space and anywhere workers traverse to prevent trips as a form of fall protection. Clutter can contribute to delayed production as well as pose potential dangers.


Protective Footwear


For any occupation requiring mobility, proper shoes can be a simple but worthy investment. Quality work shoes can address all of the previously listed dangers with:

  • Supportive insoles

  • Slip-resistant soles

  • Insulation

  • Safety Toe Shoes

  • Waterproof or water-resistant material

Promote foot protection and safety enforcement for your workers’ day-to-day operations with Boot World’s vast selection of footwear.


Putting Your Best Foot Forward


It doesn’t take much to ensure you and your team are protected, especially with our Boot World Corporate Footwear Program, designed for professionals that need the ultimate performance and service. With a discount, voucher program, and different payment plans, Boot World offers an accessible form of ensuring employee safety.

The added convenience of our Mobile Footwear Store also allows you to maximize efficiency and productivity in a few minutes. We’ll set up shop right outside your business, so your workers can get appropriate gear and work safely, without an interruption in your busy schedule.

Footwear is clearly an essential component of protective gear. Don’t risk your time, money, nor your employees’ safety. Keep federal OSHA and your employees happy with shoes that’ll work just as hard as they do.


Sources:

Chron. What Companies Are Required to Meet OSHA Regulations? https://smallbusiness.chron.com/companies-required-meet-osha-regulations-66435.html

EHS Today. The Hazards Affecting Your Employees’ Foot Safety. https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/foot-protection/article/21919755/the-hazards-affecting-your-employees-foot-safety

Small Business. What Employers Need to Know About OSHA. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-osha-what-do-employers-need-to-know-about-it-398385

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