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OSHA: Worksite safety emphasis must be proactive, constant

Implement strict protocols about workers wearing protective gear around power tools and machinery. Require supervisors to follow up promptly and in accordance with company policies concerning worker illnesses and injuries. Ensure that appropriate safety training is consistently provided to employees. Anticipate workplace risks and promptly address them.

That mantra-like list of admonitions is familiar and rigorously followed in good faith by legions of employers across Louisiana and the rest of the country. It has served companies well in diverse industries, with conscientious business owners and managers seeking to dutifully follow time-honored safety guidelines and promote positive workplace outcomes.

Still, the highlighted formula for safety success is far from conclusively developed or a guaranteed recipe for accident-free work venues. In fact, most company safety policies arguably contain inherent defects for being too generalized and narrow in scope.

That is far from being an uninformed third-party assessment. Company safety program deficiencies spell a highlighted concern for federal and state regulators, principally the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In fact, a stated view underscored in a recent OSHA-penned article stresses that “employee safety policies in the workplace leave much to be desired in the current climate.”

That climate is now toxic in more than a figurative sense, of course, owing to the pernicious and ongoing effects of the current viral pandemic. The above-cited article published in an OSHA online publication explicitly acknowledges COVID-19 and the absolute need to respond effectively to it in American workplaces.

Improvement is needed on that score. On the one hand, OSHA concedes that companies generally do pay required attention to workplace injury matters. On the other hand, though, “very little has been done about employee illness from infectious disease or preparing for new unseen emergencies.”

Obviously, that must change.