Regulations you need to know: OSHA (Part 1) (Proceedings)
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was created under the Department of Labor to enact and enforce those measures necessary to ensure that every American has a safe and healthy work environment. These "rules" are known as standards and are published in Chapter 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
The Federal OSHA does allow a state to operate its own OSHA program; however, the state must set standards that are at least as effective as the federal standards and obtain approval from the federal OSHA. New York's state plan covers only public employees; private sector employees still fall under the Federal rules.
Regardless of whether the OSHA rules are enforced by the federal or state government, there are stiff penalties for non-compliance with the regulations. For example, the recommended fine for failure to display the Workplace Safety & Health Protection poster (OSHA 3165) is $1,000; penalties for willful violations (meaning you were aware of the requirement and the potential dangers, but failed to act on the information) can be up to $70,000 for each infraction! According to OSHA statistics, almost all inspection are a result of employee complaints or workers' compensation claims. OSHA generally utilizes two criteria for evaluation of a workplace program: documentation and training. Most veterinary hospitals have a safety plan for the staff to one extent or another, but few have the program down in writing for all to see, and fewer still have taken the time to properly train the staff on safety and emergency issues.Administrative Requirements
• Every employer must maintain or post at a prominent location, certain materials in the workplace. These include:
• Job Safety & Health Protection Poster (OSHA 3165) or state equivalent.
• Summaries of petitions for variances from standards or record keeping procedures. You may ask OSHA for a variance from a standard or regulation if you can prove your facility or method of operation provides employee protection "at least as effective" as that required by OSHA.
• Copies of all OSHA citations for violations of standards.
• Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300 & 300A) and Supplementary Record of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 301). These are only required if the business has 11 or more employees or if the business is selected to participate in a DOL survey. Worker's Compensation forms may be used in lieu of OSHA 301 if the information is essentially the same.
• Appropriate warning or identification signs. This usually refers to exits, hazardous areas (radiation), or situations (hearing protection required) and will be explained in those sections.
• Emergency Action & Fire Prevention Plans. This is required to be in writing when you have 10 or more employees.