Companies have to develop safety manuals


THE Occupational Safety and Health Act (Osha) requires companies to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Employees have a legal right to expect a safe and healthy work environment. Even though it may seem workplace health and safety are a cost to business owners, they offer advantages in productivity and loyalty.

Most employers would agree that preventing accidents and potential death to employees is a natural priority. Safety issues do not arise out of nefarious intentions but happen when businesses cut corners and do not train employees on safety protocols.

It should be common practice to develop employee standards and formalise them as policies and procedures in an organised safety manual. The safety manual can help prevent illness, injury or death among employees.

In developing the manual, think about daily tasks employees perform, such as handling chemicals, for instance. The safety manual should explain how employees can safely handle chemicals when performing a hazardous task. Let employees know where they can find Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the chemicals handled. Explain to them the information in the SDS if necessary.

A safety manual can be effective at preventing accidents if it describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with safety regulations, industry practices or even just the company’s SOPs. The manual should be accessible to every employee, updated with current information, and which employees have been trained on the manual. If possible, it should be written in the languages understood by the employees. Then the company can hold employees accountable for knowing the SOPs in the manual.

Looking beyond the business costs of workplace accidents and the legal requirements of Osha, the public reputation of the company is also an important consideration. Having a safety manual that addresses known hazards in the workplace and how employees can protect themselves is good for the company’s reputation. If an accident occurs and an investigation reveals the company is negligent and without SOPs, the damage to the company’s reputation could destroy the business in extreme cases.

Employee safety programmes are designed to help employers and employees reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. Investment in workplace safety programmes and manuals would bring substantial financial gains over the long term.

WONG SOO KAN

Petaling Jaya

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