Occupational safety consists of potentially lifesaving safety tips designed to keep employees protected from injury, illness, or worse while on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had just under two million workplace illnesses and injuries as well as three thousand work related fatalities reported in 2019. These statistics illustrate that some employers still have work to do when it comes to building a culture of occupational safety, both in understanding why it is needed and what solutions can help make the workplace more safe.
What Is Occupational Safety?
Technically occupational safety is the right to work in an environment free of known dangers, and it is closely regulated by an agency of the United States Department of Labor known as OSHA. By a company adopting proper precautionary OSHA measures it can help cut down on the number of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
Occupational safety hazards put people at risk. Some examples of these dangers include:
- Chemical reactions
- Exposure to electrical currents, radiation, or toxins
- High temperatures
- Misuse of equipment
- Wet spots that promote slipping and falling
- Vibration inducing noise
Why Developing a Culture of Occupational Safety Is Beneficial for Businesses
Occupational safety policies are in place to keep both employers and employees safe from risk. In order for this type of protocol to be truly successful it must be whole heartedly adopted by the company, from the highest-ranking officer to the lowest paid employee. It must become a corporate culture rather than just an initiative.
In addition to the obvious, developing a culture of occupational safety can also benefit businesses in general in ways companies frequently overlook, such as:
- Workplace morale – An employee that feels safe and cared for on the job generally yields better production at work and in turn may feel more loyal to the employer.
- More job interest – Especially in jobs that require a great deal of manual labor or that work with hazardous materials, knowing that excellent safety standards are in place can attract new hires to the company.
- Increased profit margin – When a company commits to being safer for people on the premises, a byproduct is that it tends to make processes more efficient and streamlined. This can positively impact a company’s profit margin.
Safety Solutions for Occupational Safety
When it comes to solutions for occupational safety there are two main strategies companies should implement: providing practical occupational safety tips and creating increased awareness of safety in the workplace.
Some practical steps an employer can take toward creating a culture of workplace safety includes:
- Requiring necessary safety gear – In some professions this may include special glasses, thick protective gloves, or even work aprons. In others, proper safety gear can be limited to non-slip shoes, a reflective vest, and a hard hat. Not incorporating these tools into hazardous work environments could be putting employees’ health and lives at risk.
- Training employees to properly operate machine equipment – Training for machinery is important not only for the employee to understand how to operate it correctly, but also to know what to do if it malfunctions or something goes wrong. For maximum effectiveness, this should not be a one and done policy but rather be a residual training for existing and new employees alike.
- Providing adequate breaks – Physically overworked employees or those that can become fatigued from working in intense temperatures require periodic breaks to avoid life threatening scenarios such as heat stroke. Make adequate allowances for an employee’s breaks as it pertains to their specific job description and work environment.
There are also actions employees can take to help the occupational safety culture flourish in the workplace, such as:
- Staying heat aware – Employees can help protect their fellow workers by ensuring no one becomes overly fatigued, overheated, or severely dehydrated during the course of their shift.
- Reporting safety hazards immediately – If a spill occurs on a tile floor or a machine is left on when it should have been turned off, employees can help lower the risk to themselves and their colleagues by reporting the hazard as soon as possible.
Visual cues play an invaluable role in reminding employers and employees about workplace safety. This can be done through signage, decals, site maps, and various other tools from companies that offer custom safety solutions.
- Signage – A poster with visual cues and directions can remind employees of dangerous symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. An exit sign can guide people inside a building to the nearest escape in an emergency situation in which evacuation is required. Properly placed signage is key in minimizing risk and potentially saves lives.
- Decals – A decal placed on a hard hat serves as a reminder to the person wearing the hat as well as those looking at the person in the protective gear about an important safety message. Because employees wear the message on their person, that critical safety information goes wherever they go and could be seen by dozens of employees each day. Decals are also useful on floors and walls for showing the proper route to take in case evacuation of the facility is necessary.
- Site maps – Businesses should have a customized site map of their facility placed near all doorways and throughout the building to help people inside navigate out of harm’s way should a catastrophic or emergency event occur.
- Lanyards – When an employee wears a “remember to stay hydrated” or “recognize the signs of heat stroke” card in a lanyard around their neck during the workday it can serve as a visual reminder to everyone they come in contact with at work.
By understanding what occupational safety is and why a culture of safety is so important, employers have a greater capacity to design a customized plan to ensure that both their employees and facility are protected against unnecessary risk. To get started contact a reputable company that provides custom safety solutions today.