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Office Safety Training Q&A
- Does OSHA require employees to receive ergonomics training?
- No. OSHA does not have a specific standard that enforces ergonomics training, but it does have guidelines that strongly encourage this type of training. Ergonomics is extremely important in that it basically designs and conforms work tasks and equipment to the capabilities of each individual employee; it has been often described as "the science of fitting the job to the worker". OSHA merely suggests a training program that provides continual and updated instruction about ergonomic hazards. On the other hand, OSHA has the authority to use the General Duty Clause to cite for ergonomic hazards, since employers must keep their workplaces free from recognized serious hazards—which certainly may include ergonomic hazards.
- Does OSHA require employees to receive fire extinguisher training?
- Yes, if the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, then: "the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire-fighting", according to 1910.157(g)(1). There are exceptions; i.e. when an employer writes into his/her emergency action and fire prevention plan that all (or certain employees who are unauthorized to use the fire extinguishers) will immediately evacuate the building in case of fire and they are not supposed to use a fire extinguisher, in which case training is not required. This assumes, however, that the situation (as in the case of welding, cutting, or brazing) does not specifically mandate the presence of someone authorized and trained to use a portable fire extinguisher (so there are exceptions within the exception).
- Do all offices need to have an "emergency action plan?"
- Nearly every workplace is obliged to have an emergency action plan (EAP). OSHA actually provides an online "expert system" test to determine if you are required to have an EAP.
- Do all offices need to report annual work-related injuries to OSHA via Form 300?
- No. Many—but not all—employers must complete OSHA's injury and illness recordkeeping forms, including Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). Categories that are exempt from these forms include: (1) small employers (who employ no more than 10 employees at all times during the year); and (2) industries with low hazards (i.e. banks, restaurants, medical offices, etc.). Nevertheless, any and all establishments may be required to fill out forms, even despite typical exemption, if: (1) they are informed in writing to do so by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics; or (2) within 8 hours of any fatality or incident involving at least 3 in-patient hospitalizations.
- Which OSHA regulations are applicable in an office environment?
- OSHA applies to all businesses and requires that all employers provide their employees with work conditions that are free from recognized hazards. Employers in office settings are still absolutely required to comply with applicable OSHA standards, which may (typically) include: (1) reporting of injuries/illnesses/fatalities; (2) ergonomics; (3) emergency action plan and evacuation strategy; (4) electrical equipment; (5) fire extinguishers; (6) hazard communication; (7) floor, bathroom, storage area, and other housekeeping requirements; (8) provision of healthy drinking water and food consumption settings; (9) OSHA posting requirements; and (10) prohibition from discriminating against employees who exercise OSHA rights.
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