Safe + Sound Week, August 10-16, 2020, brings focus to a year-round OSHA campaign to encourage every workplace to improve upon their safety and health program. Employers and workers can recognize their safety successes and set the stage for new ones during Safe + Sound Week.
DLI and OSHA Help Employers Form Safety Programs
Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has tools and resources available for businesses that want to improve safety, from the management level to the work floor.
Management leadership means there is a commitment from the top to implementing a program and using it to drive continuous improvement in safety and health.
When management leadership is sincere and is supported by actions, workers know that safety and health are important to business success. This means that the steps they take to improve safety and health will be valued by the business.
Top management can demonstrate its commitment to safety in many different ways, including:
- Developing and communicating a safety and health policy statement.
- Providing the resources needed to implement and operate the program.
- Factoring safety and health into operational planning and decisions.
- Recognizing or rewarding safety and health contributions and achievements.
- Leading by example, by practicing safe behaviors and making safety part of daily conversations.
OSHA provides resources for businesses to strengthen their safety programs, including a webinar: Three Core Elements of Effective Safety and Health Programs.
Workers are Key Players in Safety
Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. When they are involved in finding solutions, they are invested in the program. To maximize participation, workers must feel free of any fear of retaliation or discrimination (e.g., for reporting an injury or hazardous conditions). Trust is key in promoting a safe workplace.
Workers can participate in many ways, including:
- Developing the initial program design.
- Reporting incidents (including near misses) so they can be investigated.
- Analyzing hazards associated with routine and nonroutine jobs, tasks, and processes.
- Defining and documenting safe work practices.
- Conducting site inspections and incident investigations.
- Training current coworkers and new hires.
- Evaluating program performance and identifying ways to improve it.
COVID-19 Safety is Part of the Puzzle
Safe + Sound Week also gives us the chance to highlight workplace safety and employer responsibilities in the time of COVID-19. In Washington State, our phases of reopening are evolving as conditions change. However, one constant is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
The Safe Start Washington plan provides details for reopening of businesses.
Requirements for All Employers
The full details of the Safe Start Washington – Phased Reopening County-by-County plan is available here. The following is an outline of the requirements for employers under this plan. For all of the fine-point details, refer to the Safe Start document. In all phases – Employers are required to:
- Provide (at no cost to employees) cloth facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor & Industries’ safety and health rules and guidance. Since June 8, all employees have been required to wear a cloth facial covering, consistent with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules and guidance.
- Cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19; cooperate with the implementation of infection control measures, including but not limited to isolation and quarantine and environmental cleaning; and comply with all public health authority orders and directives.
- Notify the local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if it is suspected that COVID-19 is spreading in the workplace, or if you 2 or more employees develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
- Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices.
- Educate workers in the language they understand best about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission, and the employer’s COVID-19 policies.
- Maintain minimum six-foot separation between all employees (and customers) in all interactions at all times. When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other prevention measures are required, such as use of barriers, minimizing staff or customers in narrow or enclosed areas, and staggering breaks and work shift starts.
- Ensure frequent and adequate hand washing with adequate maintenance of supplies. Use disposable gloves where safe and applicable to prevent virus transmission on tools or other items that are shared.
- Establish a housekeeping schedule that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched surfaces
- Screen employees for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Make sure sick employees stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick. Cordon off any areas where an employee with probable or confirmed COVID-19 illness worked, touched surfaces, etc. until the area and equipment is cleaned and sanitized. Follow the cleaning guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control to deep clean and sanitize.
- Post a sign requiring customers to wear cloth facial coverings, and prominently display it at the entrance to the business so that it is immediately noticeable to all customers entering the store.
- Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
Businesses are also required to implement any health and safety requirements developed specifically for their industry.
More Information for Workers
If you have questions or concerns about exposure to the Coronavirus on-the-job and how the workers’ compensation process will work, feel free to contact our firm for assistance.