Workplace injuries and illnesses contribute greatly to lawsuits and productivity problems in the workplace. Workplace safety organizations such as OSHA help lay down guidelines that assist you and your employees in following proper safety procedures. Applying safety guidelines can help protect you and your employees from illness, injury, chemical dangers and other potential hazards. The keys to a safe workplace are to keep vigilant in watching for hazards, and to have a safe and comfortable means for your employees to report potential problems.
Workplace hazards can place your workers at risk for injury, and in most cases, the injury could have been avoided using basic safety rules. If your business requires that you hang anything, such as lights or other equipment that might fall and cause injury, make sure that it is well-secured. In theaters, heavy lights are tethered by a safety tether to make absolutely sure they will not fall and injure a worker or actor.
Check the floor for tripping hazards. Make sure that all walkways are well-lit and that workers are aware of any blind spots in the hallways that might contribute to a worker-on-worker collision. Secure any cords away from walkways and use clearly marked safety covers on any cords that might cross or enter a walkway.
Worker-spread illnesses pose a huge risk to the health, safety and productivity of your workers. To ensure that your workers stay as well as possible, advise your employees to stay home if they are sick, and stand behind that policy. Encourage frequent handwashing and disinfect shared workstations between shifts. Taking these simple steps can significantly reduce the spread of illness in the workplace.
Chemicals must be properly labeled and stored to ensure employees' safety. Some combinations of chemicals can mix to form toxic substances, and some chemicals can explode if they are not stored in the right kind of container. To avoid chemical dangers caused by storage and contamination, make sure that chemicals are clearly labeled and have a designated place where they are stored. Organize chemicals by those that are safe to store together, according to the University of Iowa's guide to proper chemical storage. Organizing chemicals in alphabetical order may sound logical, but it can place dangerous chemicals side-by-side, increasing the chance that they will accidentally mix. For more information about chemical storage safety, see the University of Iowa's guide in Resources.
OSHA standards require that injuries, illnesses and accidents that occur on the job or are related to the job be reported. Proper reporting of injuries and accidents can help the business determine safety hazards in their operation. According to OSHA, these reports help serve to reinforce and apply state and federal safety standards in the business. See resources for information on OSHA procedures for reporting.
A big part of workplace safety depends on your workers' willingness to report unsafe behavior. This policy, called whistleblower protection, is reinforced by OSHA rules and procedures. Workers should feel safe from losing their jobs or experiencing other retaliation in response to reporting an unsafe situation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration accepts and investigates complaints about retaliatory behavior in response to safety problem reports.
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