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Evaluating workplace hazards according to OSHA guidance

OSHA first published its guide “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs” in 1988 with the goal of improving workplace safety in companies across the United States. In the 30 years that has passed since then, a lot of information about the health and safety of employees has changed, and those changes are reflected in the latest update to the guide.

A wide range of factors affect the changes made to workplace safety standards. A large shift of employment from manufacturing to the service sector has created a more mobile workforce. Increased use of computers, robotics and other automated technologies have introduced new hazards. More sedentary types of jobs have increased the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and other health related issues. In addition, more contract employment in the gig economy has transformed many of the relationships between workers and their employers.

OSHA recommends action items that companies can take to make sure their workplace is in compliance with current safety standards. Businesses should collect their existing safety literature, examine their workplace for dangers, identify health hazards, conduct incident investigations, evaluate emergency procedures and prioritize control measures. Each action item has several steps that are laid out in detail in OSHA documentation.

When employers violate OSHA standards, employees who are harmed may be eligible for financial compensation for lost wages, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and pain and suffering. Victims have certain rights, and it’s the job of a workers’ compensation attorney to protect those rights both in and out of court. Companies, especially large corporations, often have powerful legal teams, so it may benefit victims to obtain proper counsel no matter how complex the issue may seem.