Health, Safety & Security in the Workplace

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Requiring safety gear such as a hard hat and reflective vest is one way to maintain workplace safety.
Requiring safety gear such as a hard hat and reflective vest is one way to maintain workplace safety. (Image: construction worker image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Safety, health and security in the workplace is important to workers and to the general morale of the employees of a company. Much of this is common sense, but there are government agencies and regulations that govern this aspect of running a business in order to ensure the health and safety of the workforce.

Definitions

Safety refers to procedures and other matters taken to keep workers from being injured or getting sick. Security overlaps safety somewhat because it can also mean protecting workers from injury, but it is broader and refers to other threats as well, such as sexual harassment and theft. Business owners have an interest in the health of their employees, not only because they provide health insurance and workmen's compensation insurance for them, but because a healthy environment increases productivity.

Safety Measures

Businesses can take measures to ensure that their workplace is safe. They can look for the least hazardous equipment or material. They can separate workers from specific known hazards, via protective clothing and equipment or architectural features. They can provide adequate ventilation to protect against fumes. They can enact rules and procedures that promote safe practices.

Security in the Workplace

Security measures vary depending on the industry and other specifics relating to each business. Some of the considerations with regard to security include the following: Computer and Internet-related activity; crisis management; prevention of theft and fraud; prevention of violence; electronic security systems and alarms; providing and restricting access to various parts of the physical facility to authorized personnel; and protection of company secrets, trademarks and copyrights. Each business will address these in different ways, which will include rules and policies, physical security measures such as locks and alarms and plans to be enacted in the event of an emergency.

Small Businesses

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration oversees workplace safety. Its function is to help employers get hazardous materials and circumstances out of the workplace, keep workers from being injured, killed or becoming sick, and take responsibility for safety in the workplace.

Government Agencies

Three United States government agencies, all part of the Department of Labor, administrate and enforce regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace. These are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which applies specifically to mine workers, and the Office of the Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOMBD).

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