Most, if not all OSHA agencies require employers to have a variety of written safety programs, policies, and procedures. Here in Minnesota, our state agency – MN OSHA, is no exception. The most commonly required written program deals with our AWAIR regulation.
AWAIR stands for “A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction” program, and specifically requires that nearly all MN employers develop a written policy or program on how they plan to establish a safe workplace. Developing written safety policies and procedures can be a challenge to anyone, especially if you haven’t done it before, so employers often look for ways to simplify the process, such as purchasing a sample or template AWAIR program.
I’m frequently asked if I sell these products, which I do. They are an inexpensive and efficient way to meet the requirements for written programs such as AWAIR, Hazard Communication (“Haz. Comm.”), Respiratory Protection, Employee Right to Know, etc. You can see the offerings on the Downloads tab of this website.
A template program is a policy or program that has been written in a “fill in the blanks” format.
But buyer beware! There’s nothing wrong with templates per se. But people shopping for templates need to be very careful about purchasing and using template programs. Templates, even after they have been edited, are often extremely general and are not adequately customized to reflect the employer’s operations. To be acceptable, the final product must accurately reflect and represent the company to which it applies, and this goes beyond just filling in the name of the company at the top of page 1. Be sure your program doesn’t include phrases like “this company”, and other suspiciously general phrases. These are dead giveaways that your program isn’t authentic. Also, be sure the job titles listed in the program actually exist within your company.
Everything above also applies to template/generalized training programs as well.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with using an AWAIR template, Employee Right to Know template, Hazard Communication template, Respiratory Protection template, etc. Even Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) has no formal regulations against using them as long as they are used only as a starting point to craft a program that truly reflects your operation, and they meet the content requirements. Just remember that there are better options, such as working with your insurance carriers or a qualified, experienced consultant (my email is firstname.lastname@example.org), and if you must use a template, be sure you use them properly.
Have any of you used template vendors in the past? How did it work out for you? Please comment below.