Workplace safety is an important issue in every industry as employers seek to provide a safe, productive environment. Workers also play an important role in workplace safety, as do unions and safety advocates. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, sets federal guidelines for workplace safety that employers must abide by.
Know the Laws
OSHA laws apply differently to different industries and types of employees. For example, it is illegal for workers under age 18 to operate certain machinery or work in a confined space for an extended period of time, while the same work may be legal for adults to perform.
OSHA also mandates rules for labeling exits, providing smoke detectors and firefighting equipment, and equipping workers with safety equipment such as eye protection or hard hats in hazardous areas. Read the information on OSHA's website that is specific to your industry and make sure you're in compliance to protect against fines or a suspension of your business license if you fail an inspection.
Watch for Crime
Workplace crime is a serious safety threat that can be easy to overlook due to more obvious hazards. Make sure your workers have a safe way to enter the workplace, including a safe place to park where their vehicles are protected. This is especially important if your business operates in a dangerous location where crime is high.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, employers are responsible for protecting employees from crime in the workplace, which includes violence among employees. The NCPC recommends a thorough screening of every applicant and background checks to verify a clean criminal history before hiring someone who works in contact with customers or other employees.
Invest in Training
Safety training is essential to a safe workplace. OSHA requires employers to provide a safety training outline and subject each new employee to sufficient training. Spend time developing your training program and don't try to rush employees through the process.
Make training a regular activity for more senior employees who might slip into bad habits over time. While this may cost time and money, it can pay for itself by preventing lawsuits over negligence if an employee suffers an injury that training might have been able to prevent.