Everyone has a responsibility to make safety and health a core business value.
By Gary Ganson, CIH, CSP
As an industrial hygienist, I am often asked to evaluate a company’s health and safety program and help the company ensure it complies with all applicable OSHA regulations. But hiring a health and safety expert for longterm hazardous assessment and training might seem like a cost you just can’t afford.
Luckily, there is an abundance of free information and resources to help you in this area.
As an employer, you have a duty to protect your workers from injury and illness on the job, and protecting workers also makes good business sense. But improved employee morale, work output, quality, and substantial savings in workers’ compensation and lost workdays are just some of the benefits possible when injuries and illness decline.
An effectively managed safety and health program that focuses on your specific workplace hazards, and complies with state and federal health and safety guidelines, is critical and can reduce your operational costs as well as prevent employees from being injured or becoming ill. So is buy-in from every manager and employee. Everyone has a responsibility to make safety and health a core business value.
When you’re searching for safety and occupational health information, make sure the source is reputable.
First Stop: OSHA
Not surprisingly, the first stop I recommend in looking for assistance with compliance is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. On the OSHA website you’ll find information about free consultation, interactive computer software, publications, technical and training information, and easy-to-follow guidelines and standards. It also includes links to OSHA local offices and the Small Business Administration.
One valuable resource is OSHA’s on-site consultation service available through its Office of Small Business Assistance. OSHA’s free service assists employers in finding potential hazards at their worksites, improves their occupational safety and health management systems, and can qualify them for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. To begin the process, first contact your local OSHA office or visit the OSHA website to locate the phone number for your state’s consultation office.
Also under the OSHA Office of Small Business Assistance is the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This law was designed to help small businesses understand and comply with regulations and give them more of a voice in developing new regulations.
Compliance assistance is also available from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH, through its Health Hazard Evaluation program, responds to requests for evaluation of workplace health hazards. At no cost to the employer, NIOSH evaluates the environment and health of the workers by reviewing records and conducting on-site environmental and medical testing and issues a report with its recommendations for addressing identified problems.
I strongly encourage all—but especially the small companies— to take advantage of the multitude of good, free compliance information that is available via the Internet, but with the caveat: Buyer beware. There is also a lot of junk out there.
The National Ground Water Association has an area of its website dedicated to safety resources. It features drilling safety guidelines and links to safety information. It also has a collection of safety fact sheets housed in a members-only area. The site’s online bookstore also offers a complete selection of books and DVDs available for sale.
When you’re searching for safety and occupational health information, make sure the source is reputable. Stick with nonprofit and professional associations, universities, and government agencies. Remember that regulatory issues are also posted on the federal websites and usually on state and provincial government websites.
In addition to OSHA, there are a host of professional agencies that focus on health and safety such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and the National Safety Council (NSC) to name just a few.
Industry and Local Resources
There are healthcare societies and other professional organizations in your industry. Health and safety information is in providing you available at these organizations’ conferences, in professional development courses, and through their professional committees, journals, and other publications.
Many local chapters for each of these organizations hold local conferences that focus on providing useful information regarding worker safety and industrial hygiene. You can find out about these local chapters through the national websites for AIHA, ASSE, and NSC.
Your own state health and safety agencies are a great resource for free compliance assistance. There are other organizations that may have helpful resources, such as the Small Business Administration. If you do a little research, you may find these organizations, as well as government agencies, will provide you the resources necessary for your business to improve or implement health and safety measures.
Print and Academic Resources
Periodicals are a great source for health and safety information. There are a number of healthcare, industry, and professional association publications that publish health and safety articles written by experienced professionals in their field.
For example, Water Well Journal publishes this column, Safety Matters, in every issue of the year. It also has a variety of other feature articles focusing on safety throughout the year.
I have found universities with industrial hygiene programs to be a great source of information. If you have a health and safety question, call their professors. Sometimes they will assign students to research your problem for experience and extra credit. Many colleges and universities also provide noncredit training courses. Sometimes the courses are free and, at the least, they’ll be less expensive than courses offered by a private organization.
To access a list of safety and industrial hygiene consultants who specialize in health and safety issues, visit the American Industrial Hygiene Association at www.aiha.org and go to the Find Consultants tab. Also visit the American Society of Safety Engineers at www.asse.org and go to the Practice Specialties tab for information related to industrial hygiene.
To help meet your professional needs, this column covers skills and competencies found in DACUM charts for drillers and pump installers. DO refers to the drilling chart and PI represents the pumps chart. The letter and number immediately following is the skill on the chart covered by the column. This column covers:
DOK-8, 9; DOL-1, 2, 3, 4, 5; PIB-2; PIG-3
More information on DACUM and the charts are available at www.NGWA.org.
Gary Ganson, CIH, CSP, is national practice leader/director of industrial hygiene services for Nova Consulting Group Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.