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Developing a Safety Program

Once you know what your requirements are under OSHA, you can use those requirements as a guide to developing and implementing a safety program for your workplace.

Plan considerations. Your plan should consider your company's immediate needs and provide for on-going, long-lasting worker protection. Once your plan is designed, it is important to follow through and use it in the workplace. You will then have a program to anticipate, identify, and eliminate conditions or practices that could result in injuries and illnesses.

Where to begin. If you have difficulty in deciding where to begin, a phone call to your state consultation program (or the services of a private consultant) will get you the assistance you need. A consultant will survey your workplace for existing or potential hazards. Then, if you request it, he or she will determine what you need to make your safety and health program effective. The consultant will work with you to develop a plan for making these improvements and to establish procedures for making sure that your program stays effective.

Impact of the ADA. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are several unresolved issues within the broad scope of safety planning, workers' compensation, COBRA, and group health insurance that over time will be resolved by government regulation and the courts. In the meantime, you should continue to be governed by the policies, plans, and procedures you have established. In the event that you feel you have a conflict between the various laws (for example, your safety program appears to prohibit you from making certain accommodations for a disabled worker), seek advice from an experienced attorney or consultant.

Some of the steps in the process include:

Basically, you need to concern yourself with the types of accidents and health hazard exposures that could happen in your workplace. Because each workplace is unique, your program will differ from that of your neighbor or competitor.