Employers must provide a safe workplace for their employees. This means that workplaces must not have serious hazards, and must follow all safety and health standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which ensures workplaces are safe places to work. The OSH Act covers employers and employees in Ohio.
Several OSHA Standards require compliance if companies have a certain number of employees, such as 11 or more, for injury and illness recordkeeping. These minimum number standards frequently confuse employers into erroneously believing that if they do not have the requisite number of employees, they are exempt from OSHA inspections, citations, and penalties.
Matt Austin is one of a select few attorneys in Ohio to have taken and passed the OSHA 10-hour card certification test.
OSHA Applies to Most Businesses
Although most people think of factories, hospitals, and warehouses when discussing safety and health at work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not discriminate against what type of company it investigates. Office settings, including ones for lawyers, doctors, accountants, banks, and grocery stores must follow the OSH Act and are regular targets of investigation.
Employers should place a premium on becoming aware of OSHA’s Rules and Regulations. Construction, manufacturing and health care settings that receive the majority of injuries frequently have a full-time employee serve as the OSHA compliance officer to ensure that injuries are reduced and compliance is achieved. Workplaces without full-time OSHA compliance personnel should identify a small group of employees responsible for working knowledge of OSHA Rules and Regulations and schedule a private OSHA inspection on a regular basis.
Office settings, on the other hand, receive far fewer injuries than manufacturers. OSHA compliance in office settings is rarely discussed or purposefully followed. However, offices can be the target of an investigation just as easily as a manufacturing facility. Routine compliance checks will cost the employer less time and money than defending or paying an OSHA penalty for an unknown violation. Probably the most relevant OSHA issue for office settings deals with ergonomics. Offices must ensure their employees are properly fitted at their work stations. OSHA’s website even has a checklist for employers that cover such things as working posture, seating, keyboard, monitors, and other items commonly found in office settings.
At a minimum, employers covered by the OSH Act must have the written programs in place that affect their businesses, such as an Emergency Action Plan, a Hazard Communication (OSHA’s most cited standard) and others if the workplace has machinery or equipment – even if it is only a photocopier. Austin Legal has several OSHA documents on hand for clients and works with preeminent OSHA consultants, as needed, so employers are prepared for a surprise investigation.