"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while other people will find a way around the laws." - Plato (427-347 B.C.)
Judging from the above quote it seems safe to say that rules and regulations have been around for a long time and that some people have always had difficulty following them. The same is true when it comes to complying with the OSHA standards.
There is no doubt that attempting to be compliant with all applicable OSHA standards is a difficult task. The sheer volume of regulation, the varying interpretations, and the bureaucratic hyperbole can be overwhelming. But when it comes to employee safety, the focus really should be on doing the right thing. As daunting as the OSHA standards are, they are based upon one goal: protecting the worker from job related hazards. If that is truly the priority then often the situation will call for safety measures above and beyond what the federal law requires.
Ergonomics is perhaps the best example of this. Preventing cumulative trauma disorders is the right thing to do, but there is no OSHA standard covering this… at least not yet. Don’t simply ask, “what does OSHA require?” The right question to ask is, “what is the best way to complete the task safely?” This is not subjective; there are best practices to adopt for just about everything. Keep in mind that just because you never got hurt doing something doesn’t mean it is a safe practice.
Compliance based safety has a role in all businesses, but developing a positive safety culture takes far more than simply following the rules. Encourage people to report hazards, develop new training ideas, look out for one another, enforce higher standards of behavior, and nurture younger workers as they learn the job. Safety is truly everyone’s responsibility, not just the “compliance managers” job.
MEMIC policyholders can log onto the Safety Director for more information on developing a positive safety culture at your place of business.