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Core Safety Product Checklist

by Jary D. Winstead

Providing a safe work environment, having a proactive workplace safety training program and being in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations is essential for every workplace, no matter what type of business and whether there is one employee or 25. Keep in mind these essential components of a workplace safety program.

First Aid Kits & Supplies

First aid kits, which typically include items like bandages, first aid cream, an instant cold pack, sterile alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, bandages, first aid cream, instant cold pack, scissors, tape, tweezers, triangular bandagesterile pads, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, exam gloves and antiseptic wipes, should be adequate for the number of employees and for treating the types of injuries that can be reasonably expected in your workplace. Your first aid kit should be easily accessible to all employees.

Fire Extinguishers

While you hope you’ll never need to, if there is an emergency, you want to be able to put out a fire at work. You need to have a fire-extinguishing agent on hand that’s classified to meet the type of flammables and combustibles found in the workplace:

  • Class A fire extinguishers are designed to extinguish fires caused by the normal combustibles found in an office, including wood, paper and cloth
  • Class B fire extinguishers are designed to extinguish fires caused by things like flammable and combustible liquids (e.g., petroleum products, propane and paint thinners)
  • Class C fire extinguishers are designed to extinguish electrical fires caused by machines including office equipment, appliances and electrical equipment

Multi-class fire extinguishers that are designed to extinguish more than one class of fire are available. ABC multi-class fire extinguishers (recommended) are designed to extinguish all three types of fires. Special classes of extinguishers for use with computers and exotic metals are also available. Fire extinguishers should be spaced in accordance with your state and local fire codes, as well as OSHA standards.

Emergency Exits, Doorways & Stairwells

Employees should know the preferred ways in and out of your building in case of an emergency. To ensure your team’s safety, make sure you do the following:

  • Keep emergency exits posted and clear
  • Maintain walking and working surfaces so they are clear of trip, slip and fall hazards
  • Confirm all clearances meet OSHA standards and other regulatory codes
  • Keep entrances and exits clear and free of obstacles
  • Verify that stairwells are properly railed with openings protected
  • Note areas prone to hazards such as slippery surfaces, equipment operation or traffic

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

OSHA requires employers to complete PPE Hazard Assessments. This assessment is used to identify workplace hazards, find ways to eliminate or reduce exposures to the hazards and identify PPE requirements. When hazards cannot be eliminated through engineering controls and other means, PPE must be provided at no charge to the employee. Examples of this equipment include:

  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Head protection
  • Hand protection
  • Protective clothing
  • Respiratory protection
  • Fall protection

Material Safety Data Sheets

Every chemical manufactured has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), and the rule is “Read it before you need it!” Employers are required to keep a list of the chemicals that are stored and used in the workplace, and keep an MSDS on file for each chemical used. A chemical’s MSDS can provide crucial information in case of an emergency involving the chemical.

Required Postings

Another aspect of keeping your employees safe is hanging signage around your place of business, including:

  • State & Federally Required Posters: Each state’s requirements are different; you should contact your state’s labor authority to learn what is required.
  • Emergency Evacuation Plan:* This plan identifies what to do in the event of an emergency that requires an evacuation of the workplace. The plan should include emergency contact numbers, names of employees designated to manage and assist others, instructions for notifying employees of the need to evacuate (including those who may be sight- or hearing-impaired), plans for assisting people with disabilities or special needs, exit routes and locations, fire extinguisher locations and where to meet outside the workplace in order to account for the team’s whereabouts.
  • Emergency Action Plan:* This plan provides employees with key information about what to do in case of a medical or other workplace emergency. This typically includes employer contacts, local emergency numbers, local medical facility locations and contact numbers, where the first aid kits are located, who in your workplace is trained in first aid, post-evacuation meeting locations, emergency equipment shutdown instructions and other information specific to your workplace.
  • Close Call, Hazard and Accident Reporting Procedures: This posting identifies the policies and procedures that must be followed in the event of a close call, workplace hazard, injury or illness. This typically includes who to report to, what forms or documents to use and other important steps to ensure incidents are properly handled.

*Workplaces with 10 or fewer employees may only be required to have a verbal plan in place.

Written Workplace Safety Programs/Workplace Injury & Illness Prevention Program 

Each workplace is required to have written workplace safety programs specific to the hazards found in the particular workplace.

  • An office environment will require only basic written programs that may include the person responsible for workplace safety, the safety committee structure and responsibilities, program administrator information, workplace safety program policies and procedures, information about accident prevention, safety training, safety rules, forms and the emergency plans previously listed.
  • Workplaces with tasks involving hazardous activities require further programs that are specific to the hazards and tasks of the workplace.

Safety Training & Documentation

Each employer must provide every employee with safety training specific to their job tasks, in accordance with OSHA standards and the company’s written safety programs. This training must be conducted previous to the employee’s initial assignment and should be provided at least annually thereafter. All training should be documented in order to provide proof of the training.

Know What Is Required

This checklist is designed to assist employers in the core elements of a safety program. Each workplace is unique, with its own specific safety requirements. Contact OSHA or your local occupational safety authority to learn what’s required in your specific workplace.

Jary D. Winstead is an occupational safety consultant and the owner of Work Safety Service.

This article provides general information, and is not intended to provide personalized legal or medical advice; please consult with your own advisor and review local/state/federal regulatory guidelines and requirements if you have any questions.

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