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A Culture of Safety Comes From the Heart, Not From OSHA Standards

- November 28, 2016 by Leslie Stoll, CSP ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Recently, a customer came to me with a situation—their welder, who has his work area situated in a back corner of the manufacturing facility, came to them with a concern.  He was worried that if he got sick or injured, that no one would find him and help him.  He requested that someone check on him throughout the day; if he could have a “buddy” at work.  My customer wanted to know if that was a legitimate concern, and if OSHA could give them a citation.

My initial thought was: Why are they so concerned about OSHA standards—and not just their employee’s well-being?

Rather than tackling their safety culture, I discussed OSHA’s General Duty Clause with them.  I told them that, technically, anything is enforceable by OSHA. The general duty clause requires employers to provide a workplace that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.”

So I asked: “Do you recognize this concern as a hazard?” If yes, then it’s possible that OSHA could issue a citation.

My customer admitted that this was a legitimate concern so I explained that cameras, scheduled supervisor check-in, emergency alarms, putting a phone in the area are all reasonable solutions.  I would not expect them to place a full-time “buddy” in this area, but occasional checks certainly shouldn’t be hard. 

In my example, giving this employee peace of mind is easy.  If that employee is stressed about his currently situation, his mind is not 100% on his job task; therefore, he is more likely to be injured. 

Regardless of related OSHA standards, a simple concern like this one should always be addressed.   Chances are, this welder doesn’t actually want someone watching him work for 8 hours a day.  He most likely just wants to know that someone cares. 

Do you have any examples of changes that you made at your facility that were made regardless of enforceable OSHA standards?  Please comment below, we’d love to hear about them.


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