7 Things Businesses Should Do To Be Health and Safety Compliant


A dizzying array of state and federal laws enacted and enforced to ensure that a business provides a safe and healthy workplace for its employees may seem like a minefield to a business owner who must navigate through them. The slightest compliance misstep may explode into a flurry of regulatory enforcement by government agencies and potentially costly lawsuits seeking damages filed on behalf of workers who have been harmed.

The long hours spent overseeing the day-to-day operations of a business leave little time for owners and managers to research the laws and determine which ones apply to them. You are probably nodding your head in agreement, so start the process of making your business health and safety compliant by consulting with a business law attorney who already knows the laws and can advise you about the ones that apply to your business.

The primary objective of any program that you implement is the prevention of injuries, illnesses and deaths caused by unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions. Instead of waiting for someone to report an injury or illness before taking remedial action, legal compliance requires a proactive approach to anticipate potential hazards and take steps before the fines and lawsuits. Now that you have a lawyer on board to help, here are seven more things to do to make your business health and safety compliant.

Identify the safe-workplace laws that apply to your business

When the president signed it into law, the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 set the standards for workplace health and safety throughout the country by preempting state laws existing at the time. States were given the option to enact their own laws and regulations consistent with the standards and goals established by the federal statute.

Identifying the health and safety laws that apply to your business starts by spending time familiarizing your lawyer with how the business operates. For example, if your business operates in multiple states, you may be subject to the federal law in one state while it may be required to follow state law for operations in another.

Complicating legal compliance is the fact that OSHA creates health and safety standards specific to certain industries. For example, high rates of fatal construction injuries exist even with specific safety and health standards for the construction industry.

Have your attorney keep you informed of new laws or changes to existing ones that apply to your company. Adapting your policies and employee training to ensure compliance with the law is an ongoing responsibility, and the failure to do so could lead to fines and other regulatory enforcement measures.

Identify and eliminate hazards in the workplace

Before you can create a plan to comply with the law by ensuring that your workplace offers a safe environment for your workforce, you need to identify the health and safety risks and hazards that exist and create ways to resolve them. The following suggestions should help you to accomplish that:

  • Let employees know what you have in mind and invite their participation.
  • Conduct a risk assessment of the workplace to identify hazards.
  • Identify available methods to resolve or minimize the health and safety risks.
  • Bring in experts to assess your needs and help you to create methods for eliminating hazards.

Areas where a business falls short of complying with the law should be immediately addressed and corrected.

The involvement of frontline workers and all levels of the management team at the earliest stages of assessing risks will make implementation of company policy much easier. Your employees will be more willing to commit to a policy and the procedures required to implement it when they participate in its creation.

Creation of a formal plan to ensure compliance

Now that you know what the law requires, know where your business falls short of compliance, and have your workforce onboard, it’s time to create a formal plan to comply with the law by creating a safer work environment. The plan should let all employees know their level of responsibility for implementing it and identify the tools available to them for doing so.

Implement employee training

Training employees to recognize injury and health risks in the workplace should include:

  • A review of health and safety standards currently in effect.
  • Each person’s responsibility for ensuring a safe workplace.
  • How to recognize safety and health risks.
  • Procedure for reporting potentially hazardous conditions.
  • Policy and procedures for reporting accidents.

All workers should receive training, including new hires and existing workers who change jobs within the business.

Take affirmative action when incidents occur

No matter how diligent you try to be in protecting the health and safety of your employees, accidents may occur. All incidents related to health or safety at your business should be thoroughly investigated to determine its cause and to identify and implement measures to take to prevent a recurrence.

Conduct periodic reassessments of your workplace

Do not become complacent about compliance with health and safety laws. Conducting periodic inspections and assessments to ensure that your business remains in compliance should be assigned as one of the regular duties of one or more members of your management team.

Maintain complete and accurate records

Accident and injury reports, records of inspections, transcripts of training sessions, and other records pertaining to health and safety compliance should be maintained and available to prove what your business has done. Accident and injury reports in particular may prove useful in identifying areas in which your business may need to change existing policies and procedures or implement new ones to improve conditions in the workplace.

What does compliance mean for your business?

Compliance with laws that ensure the right of your employees to be safe in the workplace does more than avoid fines, penalties, and other consequences of regulatory enforcement. It also reduces time lost by workers forced to stay home because of work-related illnesses and injuries.

Lawsuits seeking damages on behalf of individuals harmed by the failure of a business to comply with health and safety laws may create financial hardship for both the party suing and the business being sued. A judgment against a small business could force it to shut its doors while the party filing the claim may need a lawsuit loan just to pay bills.


About Author

Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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