The most important criteria to address when assessing safety in your factory, warehouse, workshop, office, store or school is to establish what policies should be implemented to prevent injury and illness to all employees and visitors to your workplace. In so doing a manager is protecting the prime asset of any business – people. Addressing hazards that could inflict injury, illness or stress will translate into an improvement in bottom line profit and long term stability for any organisation.
To improve safety in your workplace, the management must accurately pinpoint which potential health and safety hazards are present. Or determine where and what and how a worker is likely to become injured or ill. It starts with analysing individual workstations and program areas for hazards with the potential for harm be it a frayed electrical cord, repetitive motion, toxic chemicals, mould, lead paint, lifting heavy objects, designating walkways, guarding machinery.
The first step is to analyse each task:
Focus on tasks to identify hazards before they occur. Risk Management is about looking at the parts to strengthen the whole. From either view, the analysis examines the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment.Senior management may have to help employees manage specific hazards associated with their duties, hazards such as:
- chemical spillage (toxic, flammable, corrosive, explosive)
- electrical (shock/short circuit, fire, static, loss of power)
- guards and lockouts on machinery
- collision (forklifts, cranes, walkways not clearly marked, exposed edges)
- ergonomics (strain, repetitive, human error)
- excavation (lack of temporary barriers, collapse)
- explosion (chemical reaction, over pressurisation
- fall (condition results in slip/trip from heights or on walking surfaces
- weather phenomena (snow, rain, wind, ice that increases or creates a hazard)
- poor housekeeping, uneven surfaces, exposed ledges)
- fire/heat (burns to skin and other organs)
- mechanical (vibration, chaffing, material fatigue, failure, body part exposed to damage)
- noise (hearing loss, inability to communicate, stress)
- radiation (X-rays, microwave ovens, microwave towers for radio or TV stations or wireless technology)
- struck by (falling objects and projectiles injure body)
- struck against (injury a body part when the action causes contact with a surface, as when screwdriver slips)
- temperature extremes (heat stress, exhaustion, hypothermia)
- visibility (lack of lighting or obstructed vision that results in error or injury)
Workplace safety programs to reduce work-related injury and illness are concerned with:
- promoting and rewarding safe practices at work
- reducing injuries and illnesses at work
- eliminating fatalities at work
- Workplace injury and illness prevention
Most Safety organisations agree that work-related injury and illness prevention falls into three broad categories in order of priority:
Engineering controls, Administrative Controls, and Personal Protective Equipment controls.
Ensure you have written procedures and safe work practices, exposure time limitations (temperature and ergonomic hazards), monitor use of hazardous materials, alarms, signs and warning. Institute a buddy system and safety training.
Workplace safety initiatives can be as simple as:
- closing and locking the front door;
- replacing burned out lights inside and out;
- closing drawers before walking away from the desk or file cabinet;
- knowing and using proper lifting techniques;
- providing adjustable workstations to accommodate differences in people’s stature and weight to eliminate repetitive motion, back, neck and shoulder injury;
- and using the proper tool for the job in an appropriate fashion.
These and other basics should be universally adopted safety procedures in any workplace.
Workplace safety programs are important to all businesses and organisations. Remember: employees are your most valuable asset.
Your employee’s health and safety are affected not only by their actions but by those of their co-workers. Senior management must help staff members manage hazards associated with their work (tasks or responsibilities). They also need to make certain employees are fit to forwork. Fitness for work involves drug and alcohol issues, physical and emotional well-being, and fatigue and stress.People need to be engaged with the creation and implementation of the safety program for it to succeed. For example, company or organisation is responsible for supplying employees with appropriate safety equipment, but staff are responsible for wearing it at the right times and places.
The Management should provide staff with training to help them carry out their assignments, but these staff members are responsible for attending this training, asking questions and telling supervisors if they do not understand what is being explained. This may require staff members to act assertively by speaking up for themselves.
In safety and health, continuous improvement involves seeking better ways to work, measuring performance and reporting against set targets. It is also about systematically evaluating compliance with procedures, standards and regulations; understanding the causes of incidents and injuries, and openly acknowledging and promptly correcting any deficiencies.Performance measurement can be: therefore reduction in lost-time, injury frequency, reduction in medical treatment, injury frequency (beyond first aid care)reduction in sick days used lower workers’ compensation costs, reduced turnover, therefore, improving productivity and reducing training costs.