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Workplace safety

Most employers are required to follow some safety guidelines to keep their employees safe. In some states, this means following the guidelines set out by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); other states may have their own sets of guidelines. Regardless of location, most businesses must follow general industry standards. This is because workplace safety is a critically important issue across all industries and sectors. Some things, such as fire safety and medical services, are simply foundational principles of common-sense safety practices.

General industry safety standards

Under the federal OSHA laws and regulations, there are a number of safety standards that have a general application. That is, they apply to all business types unless specific exceptions are made.

Many of these general industry standards are both common sense and incredibly thorough. For example, there are safety standards regarding “walking-working surfaces,” such as passageways, storerooms, and walkways. These standards outline that all walking-working surfaces must be free and clear of hazards and, when possible, kept clean and dry. If dry surfaces are not possible (such as on boats or in warehouses), then proper drainage must be maintained.

Another general industry standard pertains to emergency exits. Emergency exits must be permanent, remain unlocked at all times, and open directly onto a street or public area.

Other general industry standards include guidelines for: noise exposure; known hazardous materials, such as flammable liquids and compressed gases; medical services and first aid; and fire protection.

Specialized safety standards

Certain industries have their own sets of safety guidelines. This is because some industries, like agriculture, have particular needs, like specialized equipment.

Construction is one such industry. Construction businesses are subject to specific standards regarding the use of explosives, welding, excavating, demolition, and steel construction, among numerous others. In the Construction industry, dangerous situations can arise from complications with heavy machinery; or dangerous processes, such as mining or working at great heights or below ground. In fact, workers in the construction industry (including transportation and material-moving workers) made up nearly half of all workplace fatalities (47.4 percent) in 2020. Workplace safety is an important issue for construction employers and employees.

The maritime industry also has its own unique set of OSHA standards. These standards include safety regulations regarding marine terminals, longshoring, and the loading/unloading of ships.

There are also many specialized workplace safety standards for the agricultural industry. Like the construction industry, the agricultural industry also has a large number of annual workplace fatalities. Employers should take employee safety very seriously. The OSHA standards for agriculture cover many elements of farm and ranch business operations, such as agricultural equipment safety (e.g., tractors, plows); field sanitation; and environmental chemical exposure.

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OSHA training and education

OSHA provides safety standards, training, and workplace health and safety education materials. Safety training and compliance are key parts of the OSHA standards; in fact, the OSHA Training Requirements Manual states that “training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.”

A core part of this training is prevention. Preventing employee illnesses and injuries helps to reduce accidents at the workplace, which decreases costs for the company. There are six key tenets of workplace illness and injury prevention:

  • management leadership
  • worker participation
  • hazard identification
  • hazard prevention and control
  • education and training
  • program evaluation and improvement

OSHA provides support to businesses to ensure that these six points can be achieved in every workplace. There are training programs for managers and supervisors, as well as employees; Education Centers, where safety courses can be taken; volunteer safety outreach programs; and many types of documentation, such as booklets, posters, and fact sheets, which can be distributed or posted at the workplace. OSHA maintains that “safe jobs are no accident,” and encourages thoughtful planning when it comes to making the workplace safe.

Workers’ compensation coverage and OSHA

OSHA provides standards for workplace safety, but it is not involved in issuing coverage or workers’ compensation benefits. OSHA does not regulate state workers’ compensation programs. Instead, the issuing and enforcement of policies and coverage is provided by private or state entities. For many businesses, workers’ compensation coverage is obtained through private insurers and is dispensed to employees regardless of whether the business was OSHA-compliant.

Many companies do have an obligation to report workplace accidents to OSHA, and to allow OSHA to inspect their premises. But because most workers’ compensation is based on a “no-fault” system, the injured or ill employee receives the workers’ comp benefits, regardless of whose fault the accident was. Violations of OSHA standards may result in a separate fee to the employer, outside of any workers’ comp payments.

Why choose CompSource Mutual

In Oklahoma, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. This means that your business needs to have a reliable, comprehensive workers’ compensation plan. CompSource Mutual is the leading provider of workers’ compensation in Oklahoma, and should be your go-to when it comes to protecting your employees.

CompSource Mutual can also help employers file injury reports, report instances of workers’ comp fraud, and consult on safety training.

Ready to get protected? Our Oklahoma-based team has the expertise to offer you coverage that makes sense for your business’s unique risks. Get a quote.

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This depends on the job you do, but some general good practices for workplace safety include: wearing all necessary safety gear; reporting any unsafe conditions; staying hydrated; and taking regular breaks. You should also never come to work if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

OSHA sets and enforces workplace safety standards. It also provides training, outreach, and education to help people understand and apply these safety standards the right way. OSHA plays a pivotal role in helping to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

No, they don’t. Every state has a different type of safety plan, and you should check with your state’s OSHA office to find out what kind of coverage you have in your state. Different businesses may have diverse safety standards. For example, there is a whole separate set of safety standards that applies only to workers in the construction industry.

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