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SHARP improved my practice safety
When most practice owners hear the four-letter word "OSHA," chills run up their spines. And I can certainly understand why—citations and fines aren't on anyone's wish list.
When most practice owners hear the four-letter word "OSHA," chills run up their spines. And I can certainly understand why—citations and fines aren't on anyone's wish list. Yet OSHA isn't bad. After all, the agency is designed to make workplaces safer. And as the owner of the first veterinary hospital in the nation to receive the OSHA Safety Health Awareness Recognition Program (SHARP) certification, I can honestly say OSHA has been instrumental in making my clinic a safer workplace.
The SHARP program gives business owners the opportunity to sign up for and receive help directly from OSHA, starting with a painless walk-through. The OSHA representative develops a list of any potential violations and gives you adequate time to comply. After correcting any problems and fulfilling a series of other requirements, such as lowering your lost-workday injury and illness rate below the national average, you're eligible for certification, which exempts you for one year from OSHA's scheduled inspections. After that year, an OSHA investigator must review your business to see if you qualify for recertification.
The best part, other than no fines, is that OSHA personnel come in at no charge and help train your employees, develop plans, and organize material-safety data sheets. The only cost to me was for any building issues that needed to be corrected, such as hard-wiring my extension cords in the grooming room.
I've been impressed with the OSHA staff and their willingness to help. As a business owner, I never want to see my employees injured because of their position. OSHA has made this goal simple and easy to attain.
Dr. Dee Thornell is owner of Noah's Ark Inc., doing business as Animal House Veterinary Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska.