OSHA and Continuous Improvement

Any organization doing business in the United States should be familiar with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA. They are a branch of the US Department of Labor and are tasked with helping to ensure all working environments are safe and healthy for those working in them. They were established in 1970, and have grown and developed over the years. OSHA does inspections, provides training, education, and other types of assistance to a wide range of different employers.

While many people and even companies don’t like OSHA because of the fact that they place a variety of regulations on companies, and have punitive power when companies don’t meet those regulations, they can  be quite helpful. Lean organizations should value the input and recommendations of OSHA, and work to make sure they are always exceeding the requirements given by OSHA.

Continuous Improvement

OSHA is often able to help organizations with their goal of constant improvement. This is because OSHA is constantly updating their guidelines and regulations based on what they believe are the current best practices. When OSHA puts out a new regulation, lean companies should always look at it closely to ensure they are in compliance. If they find that they aren’t meeting the minimum requirements in a particular area, they can work with OSHA to get the facility up to speed.

Lean companies often want to go well beyond the minimum requirements provided by OSHA though. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that companies want to be ready when OSHA changes their guidelines. Facilities which are working on constant improvement anyway, can identify areas where they can focus their efforts by simply looking at what OSHA is asking of them.

Above and Beyond

While OSHA can be a great ally in the constant drive for improvement in lean organizations, it is never a good idea to just do the minimum requirements. Going above and beyond the regulations will help a facility achieve their goals, and set better standards. In addition, when a company is always working on improvement and going above the minimum requirements, they will never have to worry about an OSHA inspection. When inspectors come to their facility, they don’t need to scramble to try to fix certain things or hide different problems. They can confidently show off their facility, and impress even the OSHA inspectors.

When you work with OSHA as a partner in improvement, it can be quite remarkable what an organization can accomplish. OSHA has many resources available to companies who are willing to ask for it. They can provide training materials, additional information on guidelines, and even studies or reports about industry best practices. OSHA is an excellent resource that companies can turn to when they are looking to improve specific areas of operation. They are especially useful when looking to improve the safety of a particular department or area of a company.

Make sure your organization doesn’t fear OSHA, but rather sees them as a valuable resource to help drive constant improvement throughout the company.

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