Avoid these common compliance pitfalls

Lack of interest by either mid-level or senior leaders in the safety and health program. Employees who don't really believe that safety and health are of major importance to the company. Lack of participation of the engineering department in the maintenance of equipment. Failure to perform health and safety audits.

Any one of these things can result in a world of trouble with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. One way you can prevent this is by being more informed about company finances, says Emily Wallace, RN, BS, COHN-S, a Sanford, NC-based occupational health consultant. "Then, be more proactive with cost reduction programs that promote the health of employees. You must have statistics and research that show the programs will be cost effective."

Your programs must increase production, retain workers, reduce absenteeism, or reduce insurance costs. "I also found it to be very important for the senior occupational health leader to report to the senior plant manager," says Wallace.

Beware of "turf battles" among occupational health, safety, human resources and industrial hygienists. These could cause occupational health to be "edged out" of involvement with compliance, warns Wallace.

"There must be a team effort of these disciplines to prevent this from occurring," says Wallace. "Working together, a team can envision ways to show senior leaders that their ideas reduce costs. By maintaining a healthy workforce, the importance of occupational health is emphasized."