An important part of running any business is ensuring the safety and protection of your employees. Doing this requires both vigilance and incorporating proactive measures of protection. While workplace safety can sound overwhelming and complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s talk about it.
Identifying Workplace Hazards
The first step in ensuring workplace safety is to first identify where the potential hazards lie. You can’t really make sure protections are in place if you don’t know what you need to be protecting people from.
There are several different types of hazards you should be aware of. We’re going to focus on physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic hazards.
Physical hazards are one of the most common types of hazards in the workplace. These types of hazards include anything from slipping and falling to being hit by falling objects. Even exposure to extreme temperatures, noise, or radiation count as physical hazards. Basically, anything that may cause harm to your body.
To identify physical hazards, conduct regular inspections of the workplace. This can include checking for loose wires, slippery floors, and unsecured objects. You don’t want to have an accident happen over something as simple as making sure people are aware of slippery surfaces.
If your business uses any type of chemical, there is a potential for chemical hazards. This can be as simple as having cleaning sprays on hand. Chemicals come in various forms, including toxic fumes, gasses, and liquids. If an employee is exposed to a chemical hazard, the outcome ranges from respiratory issues and skin irritation to cancer. That’s pretty serious.
To identify chemical hazards, review safety data sheets (SDS) for all chemicals used in the workplace. Label all chemicals and provide employees with gloves, respirators, and eye protection.
Biological hazards can include exposure to viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Despite being invisible to the human eye (when was the last time you spotted a microorganism?), they can cause some big problems. And they’re around more than you may think. There are obvious workplaces that are more susceptible, such as healthcare facilities, laboratories, and animal care facilities. But any workplace can be overrun with a virus.
Protection from these types of hazards include anything from providing gloves and masks to having sick leave available. It’s important to encourage sick employees to stay home, as this helps to slow the spread of any illness. There’s nothing worse than sitting next to someone who is coughing and sneezing knowing that you’re likely to catch whatever they have.
Ergonomic hazards can include anything that causes physical strain on the body, such as repetitive motions, awkward postures, and heavy lifting. These hazards can lead to musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain.
To identify ergonomic hazards, conduct ergonomic assessments of the workplace. This can include observing employees performing their job tasks and identifying areas where improvements can be made, such as adjusting workstations or providing lifting aids. Provide employees with appropriate training on proper lifting techniques and ergonomics.
Creating a Safe Work Environment
Now that you’ve identified where potential hazards lie, it’s time to create a safe work environment. This involves incorporating safety policies and procedures, having emergency plans in place, conducting consistent training and education, and providing the necessary safety equipment.
Safety Policies and Procedures
Safety policies and procedures are essential for preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace. Establish clear safety policies and procedures and communicate them to their employees. These policies and procedures should cover everything from basic safety rules to emergency response procedures.
Emergency Response Planning
Emergency response planning is critical for ensuring the safety of employees in the event of an emergency. You should have a plan in place for responding to emergencies such as fires, natural disasters, and workplace accidents. This plan should include evacuation procedures, emergency contacts, and first aid training.
Training and Education
Training and education are essential for ensuring that employees are aware of the risks associated with their job and how to minimize those risks. Provide their employees with comprehensive training on safety policies and procedures, emergency response planning, and any other relevant safety topics.
The last vital part of creating a safe work environment is providing protective equipment. Protective equipment and measures can help prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace, protecting both employees and businesses.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment that is worn to minimize exposure to a variety of hazards. This can include items such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, and PAPR respirators.
Employers should ensure that PPE is properly fitted, maintained, and used by employees. Employees should also be trained on how to properly use and care for their PPE. By providing and properly using PPE, businesses can greatly reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses.
Safety First, Always
With so many parts to running a business, things can fall through the cracks. The safety of your employees and your business shouldn’t be one of them. Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. This task doesn’t have to be a big one. Simply identify what the potential hazards of your workplace are, and take the time to ensure those hazards are eliminated as much as possible. Make sure your employees are aware of any potential hazard, and provide them with the necessary knowledge and equipment to ensure their workplace safety.