OSHA Handbook for Small Businesses

Hazard Prevention and Control

Hazard Prevention and Control

Once you know what your hazards and potential hazards are, you are ready to put in place the systems that prevent or control those hazards. Your state consultant can help you do this. Whenever possible, you will want to eliminate those hazards. Sometimes that can be done through substitution of a less toxic material or through engineering controls that can be built in. When you cannot eliminate hazards, systems should be set up to control them.

Here are some actions to take:

  • Set up safe work procedures, based on the analysis of the hazards in your employees' jobs (discussed above), and make sure that the employees doing each job understand the procedures and follow them. This may be easier if employees are involved in the analysis that results in those procedures. (See Appendix C - Codes of Safe Practices.)
  • Be ready, if necessary, to enforce the rules for safe work procedures by asking your employees to help you set up a disciplinary system that will be fair and understood by everyone.
  • Where necessary to protect your employees, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and be sure your employees know why they need it, how to use it and how to maintain it.
  • Provide for regular equipment maintenance to prevent breakdowns that can create hazards.
  • Ensure that preventive and regular maintenance are tracked to completion.
  • Plan for emergencies, including fire and natural disasters, and drill everyone frequently enough so that if the real thing happens, everyone will know what to do even under stressful conditions.
  • Ask your state consultant to help you develop a medical program that fits your worksite and involves nearby doctors and emergency facilities. Invite these medical personnel to visit the plant before emergencies occur and help you plan the best way to avoid injuries and illness during emergency situations.
  • You must ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of employee health. This does not mean that you must provide health care. But, if health problems develop in your workplace, you are expected to get medical help to treat them and their causes.

To fulfill the above requirements, consider the following:

  • You should have an emergency medical procedure for handling injuries, transporting ill or injured workers and notifying medical facilities with a minimum of confusion. Posting emergency numbers is a good idea.
  • * Survey the medical facilities near your place of business and make arrangements for them to handle routine and emergency cases. Cooperative agreements could possibly be made with nearby larger plants that have medical personnel and/or facilities onsite.
  • You should have a procedure for reporting injuries and illnesses that is understood by all employees.
  • Consider performing routine walkthroughs of the worksite to identify hazards and track identified hazards until they are corrected.
  • If your business is remote from medical facilities, you are required to ensure that a person or persons be adequately trained and available to render first-aid. Adequate first-aid supplies must be readily available for emergency use. Arrangements for this training can be made through your local Red Cross Chapter, your insurance carrier, your local safety council and others.
  • You should check battery charging stations, maintenance operations, laboratories, heating and ventilating operations and any corrosive materials areas to make sure you have the required eye wash facilities and showers.
  • Consider retaining a local doctor or an occupational health nurse on a part-time or as-used basis to advise you in your medical and first-aid planning.

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