Association News: AAMA Manufacturing Safety Forum addresses risk management, OSHA

Posted on October 21st, 2015 by Heather West

2015-Fall-Terry-Burkhalter-web.jpgManufacturing safety was an area of focus during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 2015 Fall Conference. Terry Burkhalter, an authorized Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instructor and trainer, discussed risk management and safety in manufacturing on Mon., Oct. 19 during the event.

During his presentation that was part of the Manufacturing Safety Forum, Burkhalter focused on many areas of workplace safety, ranging from disaster preparedness to knowing your rights as an employer or an employee. Challenges faced by those in the workforce include weather  worker compensation, an aging workforce, work culture and regulatory updates like those from OSHA and those specifically pertaining to temporary workers. Early on, Burkhalter stressed the importance of being ready for extreme weather events such as droughts and hurricanes.

“Emergency planning does not keep up!” he said, adding that 43 percent of companies that experience a disaster never re-open.

Similar to remarks made by the event’s keynote speaker Ken Gronbach, Burkhalter also addressed the labor shortage currently felt by the industry, noting that the loss of skilled labor and an aging workforce is a problem for many reasons. For example, with older employees, the number of age-related injuries can increase.

Minimizing risk is crucial, according to Burkhalter, who advised forum participants to put in place safety policies now and to make sure they are followed. To best manage the risk process, Burkhalter says documentation is paramount.

“A policy is not a policy until it is enforced,” said Burkhalter. “How can you prove that you’ve enforced your own guidelines? Proof is key.”

He also cautioned attendees to maintain consistency with those set policies.

In terms of OSHA, Burkhalter reminded those at the forum that the organization’s purpose is to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.

Burkhalter stated that, for the OSHA Interview Process, business leaders would be best served by knowing their rights.

“Know your rights and get with your attorneys,” he stressed. “Management can’t be there [during employee interviews after an incident] unless asked to be. But OSHA can’t stop your work.”

The AAMA Fall Conference concludes today with several reporting sessions, as well as a meeting of the board of directors.

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