With so much on your plate every day, you likely spend little if any time considering the legal landscape regarding your shop. Obviously you do everything you can to follow regulations and ensure everything is up to code, but ever-changing laws can make things tricky if you aren’t keeping tabs on what’s new in the manufacturing industry. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent developments and other items that are important to note, with tips from our VP and Manufacturing Practice Leader, John Madsen:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) exists to help employees stay safe in the workplace. So whether you employ one person or a thousand, OSHA has rules that can help keep those in your shop protected--while also protecting you from liability.
Be sure to display OSHA compliant posters where employees can review them and inform employees of hazardous materials or substances that might cause injury or illness. For manufacturers, especially those that have increased potential for cuts such as metal shops, provide yearly training of bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Conduct emergency evacuation drills for events such as fire and tornadoes. This can help reduce stress if an emergency does occur because employees have acted out the scenario and understand where to go. "Often, we would simulate a fire near an exit causing employees to rethink the next closest fire exit to get out of the building," says John. "Assigned fire captains would make sure every employee was out or have the ability to direct fire personnel to missing employees."
Many insurance carriers have advisers that are willing to tour your building and share tips or identify issues that need correcting. Listening to an insurance agent can help you understand any areas in your manufacturing facility that have increased the potential for a lawsuit. According to John, "If you are cooperative and comply with the advice from the adviser, this can often lower your insurance cost or at least reduce the potential increase."
Many states require Right-to-Know periodic training of workers whose jobs routinely expose them to certain chemicals, physical agents, or infectious agents. Collection of hazard information on chemicals is also required.
Employees have the right to receive this information in four main ways:
- Employers must maintain a list of all hazardous products known to be in the workplace.
- Chemical containers must have labels.
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that describe the dangers of a chemical and how to prevent exposure must be provided.
- Workers must be trained about chemical hazards.
Components of a Right-to-Know program should cover responsibility, hazard evaluation, custodial products, SDS availability, labeling, training, and definitions.
Supervisors, employees, and safety directors all play a role in understanding any potential hazards. Supervisors should keep an inventory list of products containing hazardous chemicals, ensure proper labeling, provide training, and hold safety meetings. Employees have the responsibility to complete training courses and keep their workspace properly labeled. Training and orientation must be completed and documented.
SDSs (Safety Data Sheets)
Employees must have access to the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). The purpose of these sheets is to provide safety information on hazardous materials. SDSs apply to all items brought into the factory including office items such as copier chemicals and white-out. The SDS communicates information about the chemical as well as any potential health or environmental hazards and proper handling.
It is important to follow ISO manufacturing standards which promote quality, safety, and efficiency. Update often when there are changes to procedures and ensure new employees are trained to comply with the standards. "We had work aides with our procedures that would allow new employees to follow a procedure to learn about a new job before training on the shop floor," says John.
Local and State Laws
Refer to local laws to make sure you are aware of any changing legislation that may affect your business.
Keeping abreast of laws, regulations, and other issues related to the manufacturing industry can help mitigate risk and ensure your business continues to run smoothly.