Managing health and safety in the workplace should be the top priority of a company in any industry. It is every employee's right to have a safe working environment, even if the nature of their work can be hazardous. That is why companies need to create a sustainable safety management program to ensure the well-being of their workers.
This plan should reflect the needs of their businesses and employees to secure the health and safety of everyone.
An effective health and safety management strategy will be a staple part of your overall business operations. Not sure where or how to start? Check out this guide to help you create a program curated to the needs of your business and workers.
The first thing to do in handling health and safety in the workplace is to identify the risks and potential harm that employees might come across while working. You can do so by reviewing reports from inspectors and getting consultations, as well as looking over records of accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
Common workplace hazards vary depending on the industry or nature of your work. These threats may fall into one of these categories:
- Biological hazard - involves exposure to a substance harmful to living organisms, particularly to humans. This hazard includes bacteria, viruses, and toxins that affect human health.
- Chemical hazard - can cause harm to life or health. Some substances that may cause a chemical hazard in the workplace are acid, cleaning products, heavy metals, paint, pesticides, and solvents.
- Ergonomic hazard - physical conditions that could affect your musculoskeletal system (bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues). This type of hazard includes awkward and static postures, repetitive motion, or short breaks in between tasks.
- Psychosocial hazard - also known as work stressor that can cause psychological harm to the employee. It could be due to the way a task is carried out and the environment of the workplace.
- Slips, Trips & Falls - the most common hazard in any workplace. It is due to unsafe conditions such as tripping hazards or wet floors that may cause injuries, illnesses, or even death.
Create an Occupational Health and Safety Policy (OHS)
Once you’ve identified potential hazards at your workplace, you can start establishing an occupational health and safety policy (OHS) that can prevent, resolve, and control the problems that may arise. Doing so means committing viable resources like time, manpower, and funds to ensure the proper creation and implementation of the plan.
The initial stages of creating an OHS policy involve conducting internal meetings with your employees and consultations with health and safety regulators. Talking with your workers allows you to better comprehend the hazards they deal with on the job, thereby guiding you in designing a plan that will effectively address those potential risks.
Meanwhile, conversing with regulators helps you learn and gain a deeper understanding of the health and safety rules that your company must adhere to. Having this knowledge ensures you will comply with different health and safety regulations such as HIPAA Compliance, fire safety, work equipment regulations, and even managing FMLA, among others.
Train Your Employees
Worker participation does not end with meeting them to discuss OHS policy creation. As the employer, you should also ensure that your employees are informed and trained on every aspect of OSH. Workers should have information on:
- Potential risks and hazards at work
- What to do in dealing with those risks and hazards
- Instructions for emergency procedures
You may also provide training on how workers can safely fulfill their daily tasks, what to do during emergencies and accidents, and new OHS implications if there are changes in their responsibilities or if they have returned from a long absence.
By providing adequate information and proper training, employees will have better mobility at work and ensure they have the skills to carry out the safety and health aspects of their duties and responsibilities — whether that’s operating heavy factory equipment all day or simply taking care of their eyes after a day of staring at their computers.
No matter how rock solid your OHS policy is, there will always be room for improvement. Review the strengths and weaknesses of your program to determine if your existing plan continues to reflect how you want to manage the health and safety of your workplace.
Keep records of all your safety efforts, evaluate critical health and safety statistics, and inspect equipment and processes whenever necessary. Investigating accidents and conducting annual reviews of your OHS policy are also measures that you can undertake to refine your safety management plans.
Retraining your staff and listening to their feedback are also important initiatives that can help you in re-evaluating and enhancing health and safety management in the workplace.
Workers are likely to be more productive and have fewer absences if they know and feel that their workplace is genuinely concerned about their well-being. So whether it’s in an office or a factor, employers need to ensure that the working environment is safe for their employees.
Helping their staff gain information and skills in fulfilling their responsibilities regarding health and safety at work is also crucial to maintaining a safe workplace for everyone.