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Posts Tagged ‘codes and standards’

The contractor in this video was heavily fined by OSHA for creating a potential catastrophic situation. Trench Violation copy

Here’s a brief video that will quickly drive home the point of why it’s important to know how to manage a trench excavation project – keeping your employees safe and eliminating hefty OSHA fines.

Watch video.

Don’t let this happen on your next trench excavation job!  Be prepared to do the job properly, without danger to your employees or others working on or near the site.  Contact JB Safety & Rescue for a customized Trench and Shore Competent Person training program for your employees – at your jobsite.

Here’s a handy reference guide published by Cal-OSHA to help you keep your employees safe when they work in trenching and excavation situations.  It is recommended for weekly tailgate or safety meetings.

The major cause of injury and death in trench cave-ins is almost always failure to properly shore or slope the trench.

Trench Excavation

The information covers what to do before excavating – including locating hidden obstructions and being aware of disturbed ground – as what to cover in a daily inspection and how to determine the kind and amount of shoring needed.

Important Note: The information provided is not meant to be either a substitute for or legal interpretation of the occupational safety and health regulations. Readers are cautioned to refer directly to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations for detailed information regarding the regulation’s scope, specifications, and exceptions and for other requirements that may be applicable to your operations.

Resources:

Title 8, California Code of Regulations, Sections 1539-1543.

These and other Construction Safety Orders can be reviewed at: http://www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/sub4.html.

Cal/OSHA Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry and other educational materials can be ordered from the Cal/OSHA publications website: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/puborder.asp, or obtained from a Cal/OSHA District Office.

Cal-OSHA also requires that every employer shall adopt a written Code of Safe Practices which relates to the employer’s operations. The Code shall contain language equivalent Appendix C (below), and shall be posted at a conspicuous location at each job site office or be provided to each supervisory employee who shall have it readily available.safety_first_picture

Appendix C – Code of Safe Practices

(This is a suggested code. It is general in nature and intended as a basis for preparation by the contractor of a code that fits his operations more exactly.)

  1. All persons shall follow these safe practice rules, render every possible aid to safe operations, and report all unsafe conditions or practices to the foreman or superintendent.
  2. Foremen shall insist on employees observing and obeying every rule, regulation, and order as is necessary to the safe conduct of the work, and shall take such action as is necessary to obtain observance.
  3. All employees shall be given frequent accident prevention instructions. Instructions shall be given at least every 10 working days.
  4. Anyone known to be under the influence of drugs or intoxicating substances that impair the employee’s ability to safely perform the assigned duties shall not be allowed on the job while in that condition.
  5. Horseplay, scuffling, and other acts that tend to have an adverse influence on the safety or well-being of the employees shall be prohibited.
  6. Work shall be well planned and supervised to prevent injuries in the handling of materials and in working together with equipment.
  7. No one shall knowingly be permitted or required to work while the employee’s ability or alertness is so impaired by fatigue, illness, or other causes that it might unnecessarily expose the employee or others to injury.
  8. Employees shall not enter manholes, underground vaults, chambers, tanks, silos, or other similar places that receive little ventilation, unless it has been determined that is safe to enter.
  9. Employees shall be instructed to ensure that all guards and other protective devices are in proper places and adjusted, and shall report deficiencies promptly to the foreman or superintendent.
  10. Crowding or pushing when boarding or leaving any vehicle or other conveyance shall be prohibited.
  11. Workers shall not handle or tamper with any electrical equipment, machinery, or air or water lines in a manner not within the scope of their duties, unless they have received instructions from their foreman.
  12. All injuries shall be reported promptly to the foreman or superintendent so that arrangements can be made for medical or first aid treatment.
  13. When lifting heavy objects, the large muscles of the leg instead of the smaller muscles of the back shall be used.
  14. Inappropriate footwear or shoes with thin or badly worn soles shall not be worn.
  15. Materials, tools, or other objects shall not be thrown from buildings or structures until proper precautions are taken to protect others from the falling objects.

Cal-OSHA Code of Safe Practices


Use the following Cal-OSHA guide to evaluate your company’s current IIPP. To make sure your IIPP meets the basic requirements, contact the experts at JB Safety & Rescue Services for an on-site evaluation of your health and safety program. We can help evaluate your program from documentation to your entire worksite – and help you identify areas of concern, or where more training is needed.

iipp

  • Does the written Injury and Illness Prevention Program contain the elements required by Section 3203(a) (which makes it mandatory for employers to “establish, implement and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program”)?
  • Are the person or persons with authority and responsibility for implementing the program identified?
  • Is there a system for ensuring that employees comply with safe and healthy work practices (i.e., employee incentives, training and retraining programs, and/or disciplinary measures)?
  • Is there a system that provides communication with affected employees on occupational safety and health matter (i.e., meetings, training programs, posting, written communications, a system of anonymous notification concerning hazards and/or health and safety committees)?
  • Does the communication system include provisions designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of hazards at the worksite without fear of reprisal?
  • Is there a system for identifying and evaluating workplace hazards whenever new substances, processes, procedures, or equipment are introduced to the workplace and whenever the employer receives notification of a new or previously unrecognized hazard?
  • Were workplace hazards identified when the program was first established?
  • Are periodic inspections for safety and health hazards scheduled?
  • Are records kept of inspections made to identify unsafe conditions and work practices, if required?
  • Is there an accident and near-miss investigation procedure?
  • Are unsafe or unhealthy conditions and work practices corrected expeditiously, with the most hazardous exposures given correction priority?
  • Are employees protected from serious or imminent hazards until they are corrected?
  • Have employees received training in general safe and healthy work practices?
  • Do employees know the safety and health hazards specific to their job assignments?
  • Is training provided for all employees when the training program is first established?
  • Are training needs of employees evaluated whenever new substances, processes, procedures, or equipment are introduced to the workplace and whenever the employer receives notification of a new or previously unrecognized hazard?
  • Are supervisors knowledgeable of the safety and health hazards to which employees under their immediate direction and control may be exposed?
  • Are records kept documenting safety and health training for each employee by name or other identifier, training dates, type(s) of training and training providers?
  • Does the employer have a labor-management safety and health committee?
  • Does the committee meet at least quarterly?
  • Is a written record of safety committee meetings distributed to affected employees and maintained for Division review?
  • Does the committee review results of the periodic, scheduled worksite inspections?
  • Does the committee review accident and near-miss investigations and, where necessary, submit suggestions for prevention of future incidents?
  • When determined necessary by the committee does it conduct its own inspections and investigations, to assist in remedial solutions?
  • Does the committee verify abatement action taken by the employer as specified in Division citations upon request of the Division?

Language To Consider Incorporating in Your Company’s Health and Safety Documentation or IIPPIIPP high hazard

Cal-OSHA provides the following ‘language’  for employers to consider using in developing or updating an IIPP.  While there are no requirements to use this language word for word, we’re providing these model statement to help you review and evaluate your current IIPP.

To make sure your IIPP meets the basic requirements, contact the experts at JB Safety & Rescue Services for an on-site evaluation of your health and safety program. We can help evaluate your program from documentation to your entire worksite – and help you identify areas of concern, or where more training is needed.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, clearly states our common goal of safe and healthful working conditions to be the first consideration in operating this business.”

“Safety and health in our business must be part of every operation. Without questions, it is every employee’s responsibility at all levels.”

“It is intent of this company to comply with all laws. To do this, we must constantly be aware of conditions in all work areas that can produce injuries. No employee is required to work at a job he/she knows is not safe or healthful. Your cooperation in detecting hazards and, in turn, controlling them, is a condition of your employment. Inform your supervisor immediately of any situation beyond your ability or authority to correct.”

“The personal safety and health of each employee of this company is of primary importance. Prevention of occupationally-induced injuries and illnesses is of such consequence that it will be given precedence over operating productivity, whenever necessary. To the greatest degree possible, management will provide all mechanical and physical activities required for personal safety and health, in keeping with the highest standards.”

“We will maintain a safety and health program conforming to the best practices of organizations of this type. To be successful, such a program must embody proper attitudes toward injury and illness prevention on the part of supervisors and employees. It also requires cooperation in all safety and health matters, not only between supervisor and employee, but also between each employee and his/her co-workers. Only through such a cooperative effort can a safety program in the best interest of all be established and preserved.”

“Our objective is a safety and health program that will reduce the number of injuries and illnesses to an absolute minimum, not merely in keeping with, but surpassing, the best experience of operations similar to ours. Our goal is zero accidents and injuries.”

“Our safety and health program will include:

  • Providing mechanical and physical safeguards to the maximum extent possible.
  • Conducting safety and health inspections to find, eliminate or control safety and health hazards as well as unsafe working conditions and practices, and to comply fully with the safety and health standards for every job.
  • Training all employees in good safety and health practices.
  • Providing necessary personal protective equipment, and instructions for use and care.
  • Developing and enforcing safety and health rules, and requiring that employees cooperate with these rules as a condition of employment.
  • Investigating, promptly and thoroughly, every accident to find out what caused it and correct the problem so it will not happen again.
  • Setting up a system of recognition and awards for outstanding safety service or performance.”

“We recognize that the responsibilities for safety and health are shared:

  • The employer accepts the responsibilities for leadership of the safety and health program, for its effectiveness and improvement, and for providing the safeguards required to ensure safe conditions.
  • Supervisors are responsible for developing proper attitude toward safety and health in themselves and in those they supervise, and for ensuring that all operations are performed with the utmost regard for the safety and health of all personnel involved, including themselves.
  • Employees are responsible for wholehearted, genuine operation of all aspects of the safety and health program-including compliance with all rules and regulations and for continuously practicing safety while performing their duties.”

California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 3023 (Injury and Illness Prevention Program)

Download Prevention Model Program for High Hazard Employers

Download Prevention Model for Non-High Hazard Employers

Download Prevention Model for Employers with Intermittent Workers

By Jeff Beeler, JB Safety & Rescue ServicesCompPerson

We often hear the term “Competent Person” at work, but how many of us know what that really means and where we might need one at our job site?  Do we know who can be our Competent Person, and how does that person get trained to be one?  At times workers are deemed the title of Competent Person at a job site without even knowing how to properly fulfill that requirement.  In order to understand these issues, we should first look at the OSHA definition.

Designating a Competent Person

In 1926.32 (Definitions) subpart (f) OSHA states: Competent Person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

There are two main parts to this definition.  The first part is the capability of the individual.  How do you become “capable”?  OSHA stated in a letter of interpretation that a Competent Person must have training or knowledge in a particular area in order to identify and correct hazards encountered.  It’s a matter of taking classes, personal study and work experience to gain the appropriate capabilities.  Excavation work is an example of an area where a Competent Person is required.  An employee can’t be capable of recognizing hazards in an excavation or trench without training on soil typing, soil conditions and protective features such as shoring, sloping or trench boxes.  Without personal work experience the employee may not recognize hazards caused by vibration, utilities, adjacent buildings and equipment operating in the vicinity.

The second part of the definition is the authority.  An employee cannot be considered a Competent Person until designated as such by their employer.  No other entity can do so, nor can the employee self-designate.  The employer can only do so after recognizing the employee’s capabilities for that specific area (i.e. scaffolding, excavation, fall protection).  For example, an employer may recognize that a particular employee has the knowledge and experience in fall protection exposures common to that company’s work.  The employer may then designate that employee as their Competent Person for fall protection.  That designated employee is not necessarily a Competent Person for any other area such as excavation or scaffolding.

An important requirement that is often left out is the written designation.  Competent Person is not a designation that is handed out randomly at a job site, although it is often done that way.  An employee(s) must be evaluated by the employer for their capabilities and given a designation formally.

Now that we know how to designate the Competent Person, what are their responsibilities?  Let’s look at the three basic areas: recognizing the hazard, identifying appropriate hazard control/elimination, taking corrective action.

What are those duties?

Certainly the Competent Person must recognize the hazard.  It’s listed in the definition, right?  This means an initial inspection of the job or site before the work begins and as needed during the work.  Using the Excavation regulations, 29 CFR 1926.651(k), as an example, “An inspection shall be conducted by the Competent Person prior to the start of work and as needed throughout the shift.”  The Competent Person must check the excavation prior to employees entering to be sure that soil conditions are acceptable, protection features are safely in place, and that surrounding work does not affect the safety of the job.  Further inspections must be performed as the Competent Person recognizes the need.  If weather conditions are wet, the Competent Person must be aware of the impact of that on an open excavation/trench and inspect it more frequently during the shift.

The next responsibility of the Competent Person is to identify the appropriate means to control or eliminate the hazards found.  Knowing the applicable regulations and standards, understanding technical information for equipment and awareness of common corrective means used in the industry would be just part of what is critical of the position.  In scaffolding for example, when a Competent Person inspects a scaffold at the beginning of the shift and finds a loose base plate or a bent cross member, the Competent Person must know what to do to eliminate or control the hazard.  Can the base plate simply be screwed down more so it’s firmly set on the ground, or is there a structural issue?  Does the cross member need replacing, or is it within the manufacturer’s allowable tolerances for continued use?

The third area for the Competent Person is to use their authority to take action and make the corrections needed.  The correction may be made by the Competent Person or assigned to a worker or trade.  If the correction is more technical, the assistance of a “Qualified Person” or someone with a specific expertise may be necessary to assure worker’s safety.  The key word used by OSHA is “promptly”.  The hazards found must be corrected right away or at least before any workers may be exposed.  In a high rise building under construction, a Competent Person may find there are no guardrails along the exposed edge of a working deck.  The Competent Person may choose to not allow workers on that level until the guardrails are installed, thereby eliminating the exposure to the hazard.  The designation of Competent Person includes the authorization by the employer to make decisions necessary for worker’s safety.

Be cautious!

There are some common issues related to the Competent Person position that I see frequently.  The biggest issue is when a contractor hires a scaffold company to erect a scaffold on their work site.  The scaffold company will erect it, inspect it and give it their OK to use.  Then they go away while the contractor uses the scaffold for days or weeks.  Where is the Competent Person to inspect the scaffold daily before use as required by OSHA?

In addition, if you are a general contractor you are responsible for all of your subs.  If they don’t have a competent person where required you may assume much of the liability if there is an incident.  Make sure you specify that requirement of your subs.

Variations with the military.

Many of us are doing work with the military, that’s where much of the work is now.  When working as a contractor for a military base we must be familiar with the safety and health manual, EM-385, developed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  There the concept of Competent Person spreads to all areas of safety and not just certain ones.  Much of the EM-385 refers to OSHA regulations and considers the most stringent reference as governing but has additional safety requirements.  A case in point is having an overall Competent Person called the Site Safety & Health Officer.  Section 01 35.26 (1.6.1.1) reads:  The contractor shall provide a Safety oversight team that includes a minimum of one (1) Competent Person at each project site to function as the Safety and Health Officer (SSHO). The SSHO shall be at the work site at all times, unless specified differently in the contract, to perform safety and occupational health management, surveillance, inspections, and safety enforcement for the Contractor, and their training, experience, and qualifications shall be as required by EM 385-1-1”.

Summarizing it.

Someone doesn’t become a competent person because they hold the position of supervisor or foreman, nor do they gain the designation simply by taking a class titled “Competent Person” training.  They can’t get a field promotion to Competent Person with a wave of the hand of a superior or by having years of experience.  A Competent Person can only be assigned by the employer and only after that employer is satisfied with the knowledge, training and experience of the individual in the specific area.  Once the designation of Competent Person is made, and documented, the employer can be satisfied that the job site will be safer under the guidance of someone who can recognize hazards, know how to correct them, and will do so promptly.

The author, Jeff Beeler, is the owner and a trainer for JB Safety & Rescue Services (www.jbsafetyservices.com).  He has authored articles for Occupational Health and Safety Magazine, International Window Cleaners Association magazine and others.  He has been a speaker at a number of conferences and meetings.

Jeff also instructs for the Associated General Contractors in San Diego and the OSHA Training Institute through U.C. San Diego.  He can be reached at 619-206-6414 or e-mail at jeff@jbsafetyservice.com .


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health heads a nationwide partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices; meet NORA.workers

JB Safety Services researches pertinent industry-related safety information through dozens of organizations throughout the country.  Heard of NORA?  Well, if you haven’t you’re about to.  This program, funded and sponsored by NIOSH with hundreds of professional organizations contributing time, expertise and oversight, will be helping to foster substantial changes and improvements to workplace practices and the safety of workers in every industry.  As this group works to identify issues and make recommendations to OSHA, JB Safety & Rescue Services is able to develop the training you need to keep your company safe!

NORA in Construction

As of 2005, construction comprised an estimated 8 million paid workers, with evidence of dramatic increases in those numbers in just five years. Construction workers face risks that include electrocution, struck-by hazards, motor vehicles incidents, falls, noise trauma, musculoskeletal disorders, toxic fumes and exposure to other extremely dangerous situations. NORA seeks to identify the most prominent needs of industry – then facilitate research, understand and implement intervention strategies to achieve sustained improvements in workplace practice. Meet NORA.

Construction Program Description

The National Occupation Research Agenda, or NORA, works with the Construction sector is to eliminate occupational diseases, injuries, and fatalities among individuals working in these industries through a focused program including:

Research: prevention activities leading to reductions in occupational injuries and illnesses

Solutions: tailor solutions to fit unique Construction sector problems that cause occupational diseases, injuries, and fatalities among workers.

Partnerships: recognize collaborative efforts with labor, industry, government, and other stakeholders to identify relevant problems, develop and participate in research, and transform output into products for use by employers and workers.

Research to Practice (r2p): formulate strategies to transfer research findings into preventative workplace practices and products.

Read the NORA construction program description, goals and more.

What is the NORA Construction Sector Council?

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Unveiled in 1996, NORA has become a research framework for NIOSH and the nation. Diverse parties collaborate to identify the most critical issues in workplace safety and health. Partners then work together to develop goals and objectives for addressing these needs. The program entered its second decade in 2006 with a new sector-based structure to better move research to practice within workplaces. There are eight separate sectors involved in NORA1. NIOSH is the steward of NORA and facilitates the work of the multi-stakeholder NORA Sector Councils, which will develop and implement research agendas for the occupational safety and health community over the decade (2006-2016). The NORA Construction Sector Council is the group that has been working to develop the agenda for construction.

What does the National Construction Agenda represent? Who is the target audience?

This is the first national effort to create an agenda for the construction industry. It is intended to address the question: “What information do we need to be more effective in preventing injuries and illnesses in construction?” The agenda consists of 15 strategic goals designed to address 10 “top problems” in construction safety and health. The foundation for the agenda is the research needs and information gaps that need to be filled in order to make progress on important construction issues. But it is intended to go beyond research to also address how the research findings can be used by various construction stakeholders to bring about needed changes in the industry. Including “research to practice” or R2P goals is thus critical to making the link between research and workplace impact. While not every stakeholder group is involved with research, most construction organizations are involved somehow with converting knowledge into practice for use by either contractors or construction workers. Developing the National Construction Agenda provides a vehicle for construction industry stakeholders to describe what they believe are the most relevant issues, gaps, and safety and health needs in the industry. The National Construction Agenda is important because it will provide guidance for construction industry stakeholders (e.g., industry, labor, professionals, and academics) to prioritize their work among the many competing safety and health issues of interest. It is intended to inspire decision makers to include these topics in their top priorities. It is intended to steer researchers to cohesive topic areas for research proposals. Lastly, it is intended to encourage dialog and partnering among stakeholders on a subset of key issues —thus increasing our collective ability to make an impact in reducing injuries and illnesses among construction workers. In sum, the agenda has been designed with a wide construction target audience in mind.

Read more about NORA’s Construction Agenda.

Download the (131 page) construction agenda.

Other Industries

In addition, NORA covers multiple industry sectors, including Agriculture/Forestry/ Fishing, Construction, Healthcare/Social Assistance, Manufacturing, Mining, Services, Transportation/Warehousing/Utilities and Wholesale/Retail Trades.

NORA’s website is extensive; get information about each ‘sector program.’

Training allows employees to learn their job properly, brings new ideas into the workplace, reinforces existing ideas and practices, and puts your program into action.safety-first

You may need outside professionals to help you develop and conduct your required training program.  Help is available!  Contact JB Safety & Rescue Services for all of your IIPP training needs. For companies who maintain in-house training capabilities, we can also ‘train your trainers’ and keep them current with regulations, procedures and best practices.

The following is from the Cal-OSHA website:

Safety & Health Training

Training is one of the most important elements of any Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It allows employees to learn their job properly, brings new ideas into the workplace, reinforces existing ideas and practices, and puts your program into action.

Your employees benefit from safety and health training through fewer work-related injuries and illnesses, and reduced stress and worry caused by exposure to hazards.

You benefit from reduced workplace injuries and illnesses, increased productivity, lower costs, higher profits, and a more cohesive and dependable work force.

An effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program includes training for both supervisors and employees. Training for both is required by Cal/OSHA safety orders.

You may need outside professionals to help you develop and conduct your required training program. Help is available from the Cal/ OSHA Consultation Service, your workers’ compensation insurance carrier, private consultants and vendor representatives.

Outside trainers should be considered temporary. Eventually you will need your own in-house training capabilities so you can provide training that is timely and specific to the needs of your workplace and your employees.

To be effective and also meet Cal/OSHA requirements, your training program needs to:

  1. Let your supervisors know:
    • They are key figures responsible for establishment and success of your Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
    • The importance of establishing and maintaining safe and healthful working conditions.
    • They are responsible for being familiar with safety and health hazards to which their employees are exposed, how to recognize them, the potential effects these hazards have on the employees, and rules, procedures and work practices for controlling exposure to those hazards.
    • How to convey this information to employees by setting good examples, instructing them, making sure they fully understand and follow safe procedures.
    • How to investigate accidents and take corrective and preventive action.
  2. Let your employees know:
    • The success of the company’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program depends on their actions as well as yours.
    • The safe work procedures required for their jobs and how these procedures protect them against exposure.
    • When personal protective equipment is required or needed, how to use it and maintain it in good condition.
    • What to do if emergencies occur in the workplace.

An effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program requires proper job performance by everyone in the workplace. As the employer, you must ensure that all employees are knowledgeable about the materials and equipment they are working with, what known hazards are present and how they are controlled.

Each employee needs to understand that:

  • No employee is expected to undertake a job until he/she has received instructions on how to do it properly and safely, and is authorized to perform the job.
  • No employees should undertake a job that appears to be unsafe.
  • No employee should use chemicals without fully understanding their toxic properties and without the knowledge required to work with them safely.
  • Mechanical safeguards must always be in place and kept in place.
  • Employees are to report to a superior or designated individual all unsafe conditions encountered during work.
  • Any work-related injury or illness suffered, however slight, must be reported to management at once.
  • Personal protective equipment must be used when and where required, and properly maintained.

Your supervisors must recognize that they are the primary safety trainers in your organization. Encourage and help them by providing supervi-sory training. Many community colleges offer management training courses at little or no cost.

You as the employer are required under Cal/ OSHA standards to establish and carry out a formal training program. A professional training person, an outside consultant or your supervi-sors may provide injury and illness prevention training to your employees.

This program must, at a minimum, provide training and instruction:

  • To all employees when your program is first established.
  • To all new employees.
  • To all employees given new job assign-ments for which training has not been previously received.
  • Whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are intro-duced to the workplace and present a new hazard.
  • Whenever you or your supervisors are made aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.
  • For all supervisors to assure they are familiar with the safety and health hazards to which employees under their immediate direction and control may be exposed.

OSHA requires all employers to maintain safety communications regardless of the type of business.

Click on Poster to Get It Free from OSHA

Click on Poster to Get It Free from OSHA

Your Safety Communications must communicate in a form readily understandable (written, verbal or otherwise), on occupational safety and health matters, and encourage employees to inform management about hazards without fear of reprisal.

The following tips for managing a successful safety communications program be found at Cal-OSHA.

Your program must include a system for communicating with employees – in a form readily understandable by all affected employees – on matters relating to occupational safety and health, including provisions designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of hazards at the worksite without fear of reprisal.

While this section does not require employers to establish labor-management safety and health committees, it is an option you should consider. If you choose to do so, remember that employers who elect to use a labor-management safety and health committee to comply with the communication requirements are presumed to be in substantial compliance if the committee:

  1. Meets regularly but not less than quarterly.
  2. Prepares and makes available to affected employees written records of the safety and health issues discussed at the committee meetings, and maintained for review by the Division upon request.
  3. Review results of the periodic scheduled worksite inspections.
  4. Reviews investigations of occupational accidents and causes of incidents resulting in occupational injury, occupational illness or exposure to hazardous substances, and where appropriate, submits suggestions to management for the prevention of future incidents.
  5. Reviews investigations of alleged hazardous conditions brought to the attention of any committee member. When determined necessary by the committee, it may conduct its own inspection and investigation to assist in remedial solutions.
  6. Submits recommendations to assist in the evaluation of employee safety suggestions.
  7. Upon request of the Division, verifies abatement action taken by the employer to abate citations issued by the Division.

If your employees are not represented by an agreement with an organized labor union, and part of your employee population is unionized, the establishment of labor-management committees is considerably more complicated. You should request clarification from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service.

If you elect not to use labor-management safety and health committees, be prepared to formalize and document your required system for communicating with employees.

Here are some helpful tips on complying with this difficult section:

  1. Your communication system must be in a form “readily understandable by all affected employees.” This means you should be prepared to communicate with employees in a language they can understand, and if an employee cannot read in any language, you must communicate with him/her orally in a language “readily understandable.” Your communication system must be “designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of hazards at the workplace without fear of reprisal” it must be a two-way system of communication.
  2. Schedule general employee meetings at which safety is freely and openly discussed by those present. Such, meetings should be regular, scheduled, and announced to all employees so that maximum employee attendance can be achieved. Remember to do this for all shifts. Many employers find it cost effective to hold such meetings at shift change time, with a brief overlap of schedules to accomplish the meetings. If properly planned, effective safety meetings can be held in a 15 to 20 minute time frame. Concentrate on:
      • Occupational accident and injury history at your own worksite, with possible comparisons to other locations in your company.
      • Feedback from the employee group.
      • Guest speakers from your worker’s compensation insurance carrier or other agencies concerned with safety.
      • Brief audio-visual materials that relate to your industry.
      • Control of the meetings.
      • Stress that the purpose of the meeting is safety. Members of management should attend this meeting.
    • Training programs are excellent vehicles for communicating with employees.
    • Posters and bulletins can be very effective ways of communicating with employees. Useful materials can be obtained from Cal/OSHA, your workers’ compensation insurance carrier, the National Safety Council or other commercial and public service agencies.
    • Newsletters or similar publications devoted to safety are also very effective communication devices. If you cannot devote resources to an entire publication, make safety a featured item in every issue of your company newsletter.
    • A safety suggestion box can be used by employees, anonymously if desired, to communicate their concerns to management.
    • Publish a brief company safety policy or statement informing all employees that safety is a priority issue with management, and urge employees to actively participate in the program for the common good of all concerned. (Model policy, statements are found in Appendix A.)
    • Communicate your concerns about safety to all levels of management.
    • Document all communication efforts, as you will be required to demonstrate that a system of effective communication is in place.

    Bookmark the following sites for easy access to reference material and other resources for training and communicating safety information to Hispanic workers.

    atlasOSHA assists employers with a Spanish-speaking workforce to learn more about employer and employee workplace rights and responsibilities, identify Spanish-language outreach resources, detail how employers can work cooperatively with OSHA, and provide a list of persons whom they can contact for additional information.

    By following the OSHA guides (links below), employers will be able to identify OSHA Spanish-language resources on OSHA’s website that will help them comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 as well as help them to prevent employee workplace injuries and illnesses.

    For more information, please see the OSHA English-Spanish and Spanish-English Dictionaries (with phonetic pronunciation guides) that contain over 400 general OSHA and construction safety and health industry terms.

    Additionally, the OSHA Directory, which is a collection of national, regional, state plan and on-site consultation contact information incorporated within the Hispanic Outreach Module, may also be a valuable reference resource after completing the above steps.

    For help interpreting OSHA regulations, or for on-site or classroom-based safety training for your bilingual or Spanish-speaking workers, contact the experts at JB Safety & Rescue Services!