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What Is the Job of an Occupational Health and Safety Professional?

June 5, 2024

From ergonomics to injury prevention, there are many facets to workplace safety and wellness. As a modern business leader, safeguarding the welfare of your workers is paramount. Working with safety professionals can be a great way to ensure that your workplace stays safe and secure. If you are looking to bolster the safety of your employees, it would be highly beneficial to work with an occupational health and safety specialist. You may be aware of both technicians and specialists in this field. While the focus of the work is similar, specialists generally have more high-level responsibilities and duties. Want to know what an occupational health and safety specialist can do for your company? Learning about some of the key responsibilities of the job can help you get a better understanding.

Responsibilities of an occupational health and safety professional

  • Conducting risk assessments — Identifying risks and hazards is an essential step in preventing injuries. Employees do not always recognize these issues when they are present. Not all risks are obvious. For example, the layout of a warehouse may not meet fire safety standards. While your workers may not be aware of this issue, it can still pose a major risk in the case of a fire. An occupational health and safety specialist can help identify risks like this, allowing you to start making the necessary interventions. For best results, regular hazard and risk assessments should be incorporated into your company’s work safety plan.
  • Addressing hazards — Identifying an issue is only the first step. Occupational health and safety specialists tend to go further, taking steps to address risks and hazards. The best way to address an issue will depend on the nature and severity of the problem. In some cases, working with hazardous materials and other potentially dangerous items is unavoidable. In these situations, safety specialists generally focus on safe handling. They may work with a company to implement protocols for safe handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials. Specialists can also collaborate with professionals such as physicians and engineers to find sustainable solutions for hazardous conditions.
  • Investigating workplace incidents — Has your workplace recently experienced an accident? Workplace accidents often spur comprehensive investigations conducted by occupational health and safety specialists. These investigations generally focus on identifying the root cause of the accident and any other contributing factors. Workplace accidents are often preventable. By determining the cause of an accident, an occupational health and safety specialist can help you take corrective actions to prevent this kind of accident from happening again.
  • Evaluating equipment — One major responsibility of an occupational health and safety specialist is examining equipment. Equipment inspections are intended to ensure that everything is working properly. It is also important that the necessary equipment is available to all employees. This is especially important when it comes to safety equipment. Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be readily available. Workers should also understand how and when to use this gear. While inspecting your equipment, an occupational health and safety specialist may monitor compliance with PPE standards.

When was the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed on December 29, 1970, and enacted on April 28, 1971. The goal of the act was to ensure safe working conditions for American workers. This meant keeping workers safe from clear hazards such as toxic chemicals and dangerous machinery. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to realize the goals of the act.

After over 50 years of following the mission goals set by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA continues to play an active role in protecting workers. This federal agency oversees safety in a wide variety of fields ranging from agriculture to hospitality. If you are a manager or business owner in the United States, it is important to stay educated about OSHA and its standards for your industry. By complying with OSHA standards and regulations, you can help keep your employees safe while avoiding citations and costly fines.

What does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) do?

  • Sets standards — OSHA establishes certain health and safety standards for various industries. Some standards are broad while others focus on particular roles, responsibilities and work activities. In the construction industry, for example, OSHA has specific rules regarding safety training. According to these rules, employers must instruct employees on safe handling and use of flammable materials, toxic substances and other potentially harmful materials. OSHA standards are based primarily on in-depth research and widely accepted best practices.
  • Enforces regulations — In addition to setting standards and creating regulations, OSHA also enforces its rules. OSHA often conducts inspections of workplaces to ensure compliance. In situations where violations are found, OSHA may give a company citations. A citation is a written statement explaining a violation. Citations often come with a deadline. If the violation listed has not been remedied by the deadline, OSHA may impose penalties. Depending on the situation (if this is a repeated violation, for example), the penalty can come immediately. Penalties can be costly, sometimes costing a company six figures per violation. To avoid these penalties, it’s essential to comply with OSHA regulations and incorporate preventive measures.
  • Provides guidance — OSHA can provide guidance and education to employees as well as employers. As an employer, OSHA may inform you of your legal responsibilities and how you can stay in compliance with the law. In some cases, OSHA can also provide training materials and guidance on how to remedy specific safety issues. Taking advantage of OSHA guidance can help you maximize the safety of your workplace.

How can an employer best comply with OSHA standards?

Want to make sure your workplace is up to OSHA standards? Here are some steps you can take to keep your workplace safe and compliant with OSHA rules and regulations:

  • Stay informed — It’s important to stay informed about OSHA regulations. Depending on your industry, standards may shift over time. By watching out for updates relevant to your industry, you can make sure your company is always on the right track. It can also be helpful to share new updates with your employees. To check for updates, the OSHA website can be a good resource. This website often shares new standards, interpretations and guidance documents.
  • Promote safety culture Promoting safety culture in the workplace can be a great way to improve overall safety and wellness. Having a strong safety culture means that your employees share a safety-first set of beliefs and values. There are plenty of ways to strengthen the safety culture in your workplace. Developing an organizational vision centered on safety, clearly defining responsibilities and communicating openly are all great ways to demonstrate the value of safety. In addition to keeping your employees protected, safety culture can also make your staff feel valued and uplifted. Boosting worker morale and motivation often translates to increased productivity and profits.
  • Seek professional assistance — Managing safety on your own can be challenging. Fortunately, help is available: With professional services such as telehealth for employees and injury management programs, you can help ensure the safety and security of your workplace. Addressing the safety needs of your workers with these programs can offer significant benefits to everyone involved. Your employees can benefit from improved health and a better working environment, and you can benefit from improved productivity and health care savings.

Work-Fit can help you keep your workplace OSHA compliant

Want to ensure that your workplace is safe and secure and meets all industry standards? Work-Fit can help. Our team of certified athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and sports medicine professionals are committed to optimizing the health, safety and productivity of your workforce. With our help, you can address workplace hazards to keep your employees feeling safe and empowered.

Contact our team today for more information about our services and the many ways we can help your business stay healthy.


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