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5 Workplace Safety Questions and Answers You Need to Know (Part 1)

Too often, when we think about companies trying to improve safety, there’s a perception that supervision and workers will be able to dot every (i) and cross every (t) when it comes to safety.

However, before this can happen – if at all – supervision and workers need to ask the important kinds of questions that will generate information needed to provide meaningful answers and understandings into how they may assist the work of safety in their company. The answer for all is to develop an art for asking questions.

There can’t be a legitimate answer until a legitimate question is asked. - Safety Mike Edwards

Here are some Q&A that may be beneficial to the improvement of safety of your company:

If my workplace is unsafe, what can I do?

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, we recommend that you bring the conditions to your employer's attention. At any time, a worker may file a complaint with OSHA to report a hazardous working condition and request an inspection. If the condition clearly presents a risk of death or serious physical harm and there is not enough time for OSHA to inspect, the worker may have a legal right to refuse to work.

What is required on a safety data sheet (SDS)?

The hazard communication standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide safety data sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) for each hazardous chemical they produce or import to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products. The requirements on the safety data sheet (SDS) include a uniformed format and specific section numbers, headings, and associated information.

What types of protective equipment is my employer required to provide to me and do I have to pay for it?

Many OSHA standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment to protect them from job-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. With few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA standards. These typically include hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, face shields, chemical protective equipment and fall protection equipment.

Are employers required to take steps to protect workers in extreme outdoor heat?

Employers are responsible for protecting workers from temperature extremes and should establish a complete heat illness prevention program if workers are exposed to conditions that can cause heat illness. Elements of an effective program include providing workers with water, rest and shade; gradually increasing workloads and allow more frequent breaks for new workers to build a tolerance for working in the heat (acclimatization); modify work schedules as necessary; plan for emergencies and train workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention; and monitor workers for signs of illness.

Am I required to work alone in a dangerous environment?

There is no general OSHA Standard that deals with the situation of an employee "working alone" except in specific situations such as emergency response, interior structural firefighting, or working in permit required confined spaces. Employers are encouraged to develop emergency procedures, such as providing a wireless electronic notification device and/or cell phone to those employees, but those are recommendations and not typically enforceable.


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