The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the primary body governing state and federal safety and labor standards. Several states have created local programs to oversee OSHA enforcement and training to improve local enforcement and guidance. In California, The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), commonly referred to as Cal OSHA, was established to provide employers with assistance in meeting compliance guidelines and develop inspection programs.
OSHA safety awareness standards require employers to conduct regular training and safety meetings on a variety of approved topics. For example, Title 8, California Code of Regulation Construction Safety Orders, Section:1509, requires safety meetings at least every 10 working days. The construction industry refers to these meetings as tailgate or toolbox safety meetings.
Cal OSHA publishes guides of suggested topics that can be broken down by subject matter. The safe handling of materials constitutes a large portion of the suggested guidelines. One compound or chemical can be the topic of each meeting. Some commonly discussed compounds include asbestos, flammable or combustible liquids such as oxygen or benzene storage, lead, silica dust, hazardous substances such as cadmium or formaldehyde and wood preservative chemicals.
The second major class of safety topics involves discussions on safety practices. In addition to safety meeting requirements, Cal OSHA also requires annual training and/or regular refresher courses on certain business practices. For example, The California Code of Regulations, Title 8: Section 5192, requires regular 8 hour refresher courses on hazardous waste operations. While these courses do not constitute part of the meetings process, they represent acceptable topics for the shorter safety meetings.
Other topics can include fire prevention and extinguisher use, site cleaning, demolition, the OSHA code of safe practices, tunneling, and welding or other hot work.
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The suggested time for a toolbox safety meeting is 10 to 15 minutes. In addition to a list of suggested topics, OSHA publishes a comprehensive safety guide for use as a resource for meetings.
A safety meeting on fall protection, for example, can involve stories of proper or improper fall prevention practices and their consequences. They can address common concerns about the use of fall prevention equipment and discussion of OSHA fall prevention requirements such as the use of harnesses, safety nets and drop lines, as well as the employer's fall prevention plan and the employees' own responsibilities according to the plan.
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