Creating and maintaining a safe work environment should be a high priority for organizations. Implementing and maintaining a safety program in your work environment can be daunting, but it is absolutely necessary. These programs are designed to make employees aware of what is going on around them in their work environment to keep them safe and healthy.
A safe workplace helps to minimize sick leaves and absenteeism, reduce the costs of injury and worker’s compensation, maximize productivity, and most importantly meet legal responsibilities and employee obligations. Below are important steps to take in order to ensure a safe workplace and promote a strong safety culture.
- Provide visual aids. Areas, where dangerous equipment is stored, should be clearly labeled and the walkways should be highlighted with necessary signs.
- Make sure that all employees are properly trained. The organization must provide all workers with safety training using the language they can understand. This training should be given to all new employees, with refresher courses required for existing workers or when workers switch positions within the company.
- Ensure employees have the proper equipment. When worn correctly, protective gear can dramatically decrease your risk of injury.
- Host monthly safety meetings. Establish a workplace health and safety committee made up of employees from different departments. The committee should meet at least once a month and keep employees and senior management informed about safety topics, inspections, injury and illness statistics, and other safety-related issues.
- Implement emergency procedures.
- Make new employees understand workplace risks. They need to be aware of possible general risks (fire, flood, or other natural disasters), risks that are specific to their position in the company, and a plan of action in case of an emergency.
- Take regular breaks. Staying alert will help prevent an injury or other health conditions. Instead of scheduling more strenuous tasks in the middle of the day, do them first thing in the morning (if possible) when you are the most alert.
- Address any concerns with your employer or Human Resources department. They need to be informed of any hazards or risks and are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment.
- Instead of trying to lift a heavy object yourself, use mechanical aids when needed. Don’t overexert yourself.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Every job has imminent dangers, whether you are working at a place that has heavy machinery or even tripping over small items in your office. The best way to be safe is to know what’s going on around you. The more familiar you are with your settings, the more aware you’ll be of the potential hazards. Knowing your surroundings and being aware of potential hazards will help you and your colleagues avoid dangerous situations.
- Keep emergency exits clear. Never, under any circumstance, place any object in front of an emergency exit, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Ensure that the pathway to the emergency shutoff is clear in the case that something needs to be powered down immediately.
If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, you may file a confidential complaint with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ask for an inspection. If possible, bring the conditions to your employer’s attention.
As regulated by OSHA and under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of unknown health and safety hazards. If you are concerned, you have the right to speak up without fear of retaliation.
Written by Dami Falade