A New Mexico MEP primer on safety

As we travel about the state talking with manufacturers, we find there is an uneasiness about the requirements for safety. So we offer the following outline that introduces the major elements required for most companies, starting with employer responsibilities.

  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards, and comply with standards rules and regulations issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards
  • Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment
  • Use color codes, posters, labels, or signs to warn employees of potential hazards
  • Establish and update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements
    • You must have plans in place and train your employees on those plans
      • hazard communication
      • lockout tag out
      • respiratory protection
      • process safety management
      • personal protective equipment
      • blood-borne pathogens
      • emergency action plans
      • permit required confined spaces
      • hazardous-waste and emergency response
      • electrical safety
      • fire prevention
      • chemical hygiene
      • power platforms for building maintenance
    • Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary that workers understand
      • hazard communication
      • emergency action plan
      • fire safety
      • exit routes
      • walking and working surfaces
      • medical and first-aid
      • blood-borne pathogens
      • powered industrial trucks
      • personal protective equipment
      • respirators
      • noise
      • confined spaces
    • Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards
    • Post in a prominent location within the workplace the OSHA poster informing employees of their rights and responsibilities
    • Report to the nearest OSHA office (Santa Fe) all work-related fatalities within eight hours; all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours (workers comp carrier as well)
    • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses
    • Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the log of work-related injuries and illnesses (OSHA form 300). On February 1 and for three months employers must post the summary of OSHA log of injuries and illnesses (OSHA form 300 A)
      • record workplace injuries requiring more than first-aid
        • any work-related fatality
        • any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job
        • any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first-aid
        • any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic reversible diseases, fractured her cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums
        • special recording criteria depending on industry for cases involving needle sticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis
      • download the form from the OSHA website
      • keep track of all workplace injuries that involve more than first-aid
        • first aid is using nonprescription medication, administer tetanus immunizations, cleaning flushing or soaking wounds, using bandages, hot or cold therapy, nonrigid means of support, temporary immobilization, eye patches, removing foreign body from the eyes using only irrigation or cotton swab, removing splinters or for materials other than the eye by irrigation tweezers or cotton swabs, using finger guards, using massages, or drinking fluids for relief of heat stress
      • at the end of the year summarize recorded injuries on OSHA form 300 A
      • post OSHA form 300 A from February 1 through April 30
      • electronically file results of form 300 A before March 2 every year
    • Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives
    • Provide to OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany a compliance officer during an inspection
    • Do not discriminate against employees to exercise their rights under the OSHA (whistleblower protection)
    • Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved each citation must remain posted until violations been corrected or for three working days whichever is longer post abatement verification documents or tags
    • Correct cited violation by the deadline and submit required abatement verification documentation

So how do you get there?

Step 1: Determine the OSHA requirements that apply to your company (see list above)

Step 2: Develop required plans and training

Step 3: Survey workplace for additional hazards (Job Safety Analysis)

Step 4: Train your employees (see list above)

Step 5: Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Posting

Step 6: Continually Improve

This may seem daunting, but there many resources available to assist you. First of all your workers compensation insurance carrier will have people that will assist you in identifying issues as well as supply training information and additional training for the management of your company. The second resource may seem a little counterintuitive, however New Mexico OSHA has education and training employees will come in and help you as long as you don’t have any current citations. And of course, New Mexico MEP can assist you to protect your employees and protect your business from unnecessary risk.

Submitted by Jeff Abrams, NM MEP Innovation Director, Southeast Region New Mexico