The signs of a “wet floor” or “danger” are something that everyone chooses to overlook. But these things are essential. Anyone who runs a company should know that. An organization would not want its employees to undergo any injury and accident in the workplace. So you need to ensure proper workplace health and safety by looking carefully now and then at the various provisions and systems available at work.
So, you wouldn't want your staff to get hurt on the job, right?
Workplace Health and Safety: Definition
The concept of workplace health and safety is that simple. It is no rocket science.
An injury and accident-proof work environment are what every employee looks for. A safe and secure surrounding brings out the workplace productivity in them. It is the right of your entire workforce to have health and safety in the workplace.
Also, this right is applicable for both employees and employers alike. As an employer, you are vested with the supreme responsibility of providing employees with a hazard-free workplace.
Workplace health and safety are essential regardless of the size of a company. All companies, big or small, need to incorporate security in their workplaces.
If you do not consider the safety of the work environment, it might cause severe complications for employees - both mentally and physically. Well-implemented safety measures keep employees safe and also protect industry equipment.
There are other health and safety laws prevalent across all states and territories in Australia. These policies and procedures are impactful because they comprise principles, objectives guiding the workplace health and safety decision-making process. Along with managing legal risks, they outline the benefits laid out to the workers.
However, adopting policies is not the end. Ensuring that your workplace is up to snuff regarding regulations comes attached, for it is paramount. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), also known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), is one such institution responsible for assessing the potential risks capable enough to hinder the health and welfare of the workforce.
And every employer must comply with the set of legal requirements to guarantee a safe workplace for everyone - right from employees to visitors. Employees should enjoy the work culture instead of being in fear of work-related injuries all the time. This is highly possible if safety measures are not already taken for these contribute to an organization's productivity in a variety of ways.
Not only do the employees benefit, but workplace health and safety are very critical for any long-term business success. So, it is a win-win situation for both the company and its workforce.
Employers who want their organizations to grow and achieve great heights in terms of employee retention, efficiency, reputation must aim towards integrating a robust workplace health and safety culture into every aspect of the company.
Need for Safety in the Workplace?
It is not possible to measure the effects of human casualties. They can have grave consequences for employees and their families and friends as well. This is why workplace safety and health measures are necessary. Also, employee protection from injuries or death leads to business success.
Often, we get so busy competing for productivity or speed that the safety part falls short of attention. And accidents are most likely to happen then, especially since we get complacent with the regular activities that we ignore the danger they pose.
The feeling of assurance that one has, knowing that he will return safely from work, is more significant than anything else.
There are occupational safety and health risks in every company. Factors affecting workplace safety include unsafe working conditions and environmental hazards. It can also have substance abuse and workplace violence.
For example, employees working in an IT company may have to work with faulty wires or electronics. Whereas in a construction company, employees may be exposed to the dangers of operating heavy equipment.
To combat these risks, employers should create strategies that ensure and promote safety in their workplaces.
Employers should also learn the desired aspects of their employees in terms of safety and protection. This will help increase productivity and the quality of the products and services.
Benefits of a Safe and Healthy Work Environment
It goes without saying that the safer the work environment, the more productive it is. Productive employees are an asset to all companies. For instance, effective employees can produce more output less time, reducing operational costs for a company.
Workplace safety promotes the wellness of employees and employers alike. Better protection equates to better health. Healthier employees do tasks more efficiently, and they are happier in general.
There are very few accidents in a safe working environment. This results in less downtime for safety investigations and reduces costs for worker’s compensation. This also reduces the time needed for employees to heal from injuries.
Damage to industrial equipment creates costs for replacement and repair. Avoiding workplace injuries and damage to industrial equipment will incur fewer expenses and increase profit.
If employers are concerned about the safety of their employees, the employees are more confident and comfortable in general. Also, absenteeism rates drop, and employees are more focused on doing their tasks.
Ways to Create a Healthy and Safe Working Environment
1. Be Aware and Identify workplace Hazards
Before creating a safe working environment, you need to be aware of the health and safety issues first. Otherwise, addressing them would be difficult.
Workplace safety hazards can include mechanical issues, dangerous chemicals, hazardous electrical equipment, etc.
Mechanical problems can occur at any time while operating machinery in the workplace. Also, working with heavy equipment is very risky and can cause accidents.
If employees need to work with chemicals, they have to be very cautious. Dangerous chemicals can burn or poison employees. Inhaling or ingesting them can even cause death.
Also, working with electronic equipment can have risks as well. Faulty electrical equipment can electrocute employees, causing severe problems.
Employees should be aware of the types of equipment and know the hazards in their workplace. This enables them to stay clear of such dangers and unfortunate situations.
Therefore, establishing potential risk areas should be a key motive, and working with your employees to minimize those hazards will do the trick. Also, employers should train employees in the proper operation of machinery and equipment.
2. Implement Workplace Safety Programs
The first step in building a safety program is to get all employees to commit to workplace safety. One way to do this is to include workplace health and safety in the company’s mission statement. It should be the duty of every employee to carry out the safety policies.
Employers should investigate all accidents in the workplace. They should encourage employees to follow all safety procedures.
Moreover, the hazards of not following them should be clearly stated in writing. This reduces the chances of mistakes.
3. Provide Proper Safety Training to Employees
Training is an integral part of every company’s safety program to protect employees from accidents. Research shows that new employees have a higher risk of workplace accidents. The lack of knowledge of workplace hazards and proper work techniques cause this more significant risk.
Employers should provide employees with the necessary training to reduce workplace accidents. Employees should operate all equipment and machinery safely and adequately.
For instance, the operation of heavy machinery should be properly taught to employees. Only trained or certified employees should operate such types of equipment. This is why it is vital to provide safety training to employees by experts.
4. Use Protective Safety Equipment
The usage of equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause workplace injuries is critical. Not doing so can cause injury or even death.
Employees may have to work with chemicals, machines, electronics, and other potential work hazards. Employers must provide such employees with personal protective equipment (P.P.E).
P.P.E should be safely designed, constructed, and fit comfortably. Examples of P.P.E are gloves, protective eyewear, clothing, earplugs, hard hats, etc.
5. Report Unsafe Working Conditions
Employees must inform any kind of safety hazard or work risks to the management. Employers are legally obligated to ensure safe working environments for their employees. They must end workplace safety hazards and promote safety in the workplace.
6. Practice Correct Posture
Bad posture is one of the main reasons for back pain. It is imperative to practice good and correct posture to reduce the risk of getting hurt.
For example, if you have to sit for long hours, use specially designed chairs. Also, always sit upright.
7. Reduce Workplace Stress
Workplace stress can cause many health problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
Job insecurity, workplace bullying, high workload, etc., cause workplace stress.
Learn how to combat workplace stress and avoid its adverse effects. Workplace stress can have drastic effects on workplace productivity and employee health.
8. Promote Regular Breaks
Employers should encourage employees to take regular breaks. Taking frequent breaks will prevent tiredness and fatigue. This will further prevent injuries or illnesses. Breaks help employees stay fresh and focused.
9. Stay Sober and Alert
One of the significant reasons for workplace fatalities is substance abuse. Substance abuse causes around 40% of all industrial workplace fatalities.
Individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs are less alert. Their decision-making ability, coordination, concentration, and motor control get compromised. This creates risks for workplace injury and fatalities.
10. Give Easy Access to Exits in Case of Emergencies
If there is an emergency, there should be easy access to emergency exits. Easy access to emergency exits will reduce injuries and casualties.
So, the slightest hint you get of something going wrong, and you can make the staff take down those exits.
Also, it is essential to have quick ways to shut down equipment in case of emergencies.
11. Use Mechanical Aids
An industrial job may need employees to work with heavy equipment. There are many injury risks involved in trying to lift and move heavy objects.
Therefore, you should provide your employees with a conveyor belt, forklift, or wheelbarrow instead of lifting manually.
A safe work environment is a feature of good companies throughout the world. All employees want assurance of their safety and protection.
Workplace health and safety is a fundamental issue. Employers should ensure that their employees are working in a safe environment.
Management systems and business owners are responsible for promoting workplace health and safety. Employers should encourage employees to adopt safe practices and use safety equipment. They should encourage safety policies and safety programs.
Also, employees should be aware of the risks of operating hazardous machinery.