How to improve safety in the shop

Fundamental measures for proactively preventing worker injuries

When forming a safety committee, he recommends that a cross-section of employees be involved. "This is needed so that the committee has a knowledge base for all types of operations, and also to ensure each area and shift has a voice on the committee.

"Members should generally serve a staggered but set period of time, often a couple of years, and rotate out, so that all employees have the opportunity to participate, and also to keep 'fresh eyes' on the committee."

The safety committee process at Ryder is an integral element of the company's Safety, Health and Security program. Involvement of every employee in safety and health issues is the key factor in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

The safety committee structure at Ryder allows for a safety committee at the business unit level - which encompasses a number of service facilities, as well as a safety committee at the individual shop level.

Chaired by the director of operations, the Business Unit Safety Committee meets once a month and sets the goals and priorities for the safety committees at the individual facilities, explains Sunshine of Ryder System. At the shop level, seven members from the shop team, who are rotated on an annual basis, are in charge of safety and are each responsible for a different safety area for their facility. The shops also hold their own monthly safety meeting to address safety issues and ensure employees are aware of proper procedures.

One additional tool that Ryder uses is its STAR (Safety Tracking and Reporting) system, which is an application through which shops receive their safety assignments for the month and all the materials for their monthly safety meeting. Through STAR, the shops can keep track of the status of their safety assignments and the assignments that have been completed.

"This has been a critical tool in helping Ryder to standardize its safety assignments and procedures across its network of more than 800 service facilities," Sunshine says. "By using the STAR system, Ryder can ensure that the shops are receiving the information they need to operate safely and are completing the requisite training."

Ryder's safety committee arrangement empowers all employess to have responsibilities and authority for safety improvements. "Employees working in the shop every day know the opportunities and generate innovative solutions to make their job safer," she says.

Employer responsibilities under OSHA

Employers have certain responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This legislation set federal standards for safe and healthful working conditions and imposed fines for failure to meet them.

The following list is a summary of the most important responsibilities:
• Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSHA Act.
• Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
• Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment, and properly maintain this equipment.
• Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
• Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
• Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
• Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
• Report to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees.
• Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.)
• Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300).
• Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
• Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.
• Not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the OSHA Act.
• Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.
• Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.

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