Ask any maintenance worker and you’ll hear that safety is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to managing assets – and that’s because maintenance workers work in dangerous conditions on a day-to-day basis. As such, it’s imperative that organizations put worker safety at the forefront of their priorities and that they do so by following OSHA safety regulations for maintenance. This includes but is not limited to, organizations that deal with asset maintenance and repair.
What is OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is a United States government agency that was created to ensure that work conditions are safe for employees by way of enforcing set safety standards. It was made in response to the growing number of injury and death rates of workers on the job with the goal of reducing or eliminating said incidents. Since its inception in 1970, OSHA has established regulations for various aspects of workplaces throughout the country, such as drinking water and restroom availability, indoor air quality, and appropriate protections and precautions regarding hazardous chemicals.
How does OSHA impact maintenance?
OSHA regulations apply to many different industries, including maintenance. What this means for your organization is that employers should be aware of and adhere to OSHA policies that might affect workers’ daily health – both because of safety reasons and because of the possibility of compliance audits that might spell out hefty fines or citations for your business. See below for OSHA regulations that are commonly enforced in maintenance.
What are common OSHA regulations in maintenance?
Common OSHA regulations that impact maintenance might include:
- Keeping comprehensive records of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities
- Examining the quality of various aspects of the workplace, such as testing for air quality
- Providing adequate training and notice to workers about potential workplace hazards or best practices
- Providing free personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees
- Ensuring employees are qualified to operate certain machinery or equipment
All these items and more contribute to safer maintenance practices, which is why it is important to comply as much as possible with OSHA regulations.
How are OSHA regulations enforced?
OSHA regulations are enforced through compliance audits. Generally, an audit might consist of an auditor coming to a workplace in person to observe and assess work environments, interviewing employees, and reviewing things such as training, programs, regulations, and workplace injury-related documentation.
Once completed, the audit will result in a gap analysis report that will go over an organization’s results as well as items upon which the organization can improve on.
What is an OSHA compliance audit?
An OSHA compliance audit is when an auditor reviews an organization’s safety policies and verifies they are being followed. If a compliance audit of your organization occurs and the auditor finds that OSHA-defined regulations and procedures are not being followed, the auditor might issue a citation or fine to your organization.
When does OSHA inspect workplaces?
There is a variety of situations that would trigger an OSHA workplace inspection. Here are some reasons why OSHA might initiate an inspection of your organization:
- OSHA has been notified that an organization’s employees are in serious danger: This includes situations in which death or serious injury can occur, such as during instances of chemical exposure.
- There has been a fatality or a serious accident: According to OSHA policy, employers must report fatalities or serious injuries within a certain timeframe. When these incidents are reported, OSHA evaluates the situation to determine whether it was work-related and issues citations or fines as needed.
- There has been a complaint: Individuals who work for an organization have the right to file a complaint with OSHA without fear of retaliation. Upon receipt of such a complaint, OSHA will move forward with an inspection of the job site to verify the employee’s claims. Even aside from employee complaints, OSHA might receive tips from third parties – such as news outlets or employees’ doctors – that would trigger the occurrence of an inspection.
- An inspection was scheduled: These are regulatory and planned by OSHA, especially for industries and workplaces that have been recognized as highly hazardous. Highly hazardous workplaces have a history of higher-than-average workplace violations, so it is important to maintain a high degree of accuracy when it comes to keeping records.
- A follow-up inspection was scheduled: These might happen after an employer has corrected their violations following a regular inspection.
How can I better prepare for OSHA inspections?
Preparing for OSHA inspections consists of two things: making sure your workplace and workplace practices adhere to OSHA guidelines, and collecting all relevant data so that you can readily report your maintenance activities when needed.
NEXGEN can help you comply with OSHA regulations no matter how comprehensive your data is. To learn more, click the button below to schedule a demo today.