A Look at How Employers are Improving Workplace Safety and Health
Workplace safety and health is a much discussed topic. What are employers doing about it?
- By Salman Rashid
- Feb 26, 2021
Workplace safety and health, just like the title suggests, is a topic that is talked about very frequently. Given the pandemic, ensuring workplace safety has become more important than ever. This is due to the additional risks presented by the novel coronavirus and the means of its transmission. However, that does not mean workplace safety was ignored prior to the pandemic. In fact, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has always been serious about workplace safety. Since its inception, OSHA enforced standards to ensure safety in the workplace and penalized employers who weren’t meeting them and experienced accidents within their facilities.
While it has been around five decades since OSHA’s establishment, organizations now have a lot of options, practices, and strategies to ensure workplace safety compared to the organizations that existed back then. That being said, let’s take a look at what are some of the measures organizations take to improve workplace safety and health - reducing accidents and/or illnesses and ensuring OSHA compliance in the process.
Workplace Safety and Health Improvement
There are many ways organizations can go about improving safety within their facilities. However, the pressure is more on organizations that have safety hazards and risks that are part of the job - chemical processing plants, construction sites, and manufacturing companies are just some of the many examples.
In these cases, one can see that they promote workplace safety more rigorously than others. For instance, many of them will talk about how they are ensuring safety - you can see that by going through their websites, brochures, promotional materials, etc. Many employers even display badges that show that they are complying with OSHA. This helps them in a number of ways - attracting more potential employees, suppliers, customers, increasing goodwill - the list goes on.
But these are the end results we’re talking about - what practices, strategies, or tools do these organizations implement to optimize workplace safety and health and ensure OSHA compliance?
Robust Safety Policy
The first and foremost way to ensure that workers are safe from injuries, as well as illnesses that occur from workplace hazards, is by having a solid safety policy. It must encompass everything related to employee safety and answer all the questions and issues that might arise. For instance, training sessions, safety drills, number of first aid workstations, workplace inspections, OSHA recordkeeping, safety measures in place - all of this and more must be addressed by the policy.
Strong Safety Culture
Having a policy that outlines measures that ensure safety in the workplace and health improvement is just the beginning - there’s more to workplace safety than that. However, many organizations have a culture with safety at its core - and every individual within the organization must be a part of it, starting from the top management to the support staff members. Whenever a decision is made, ensuring that workplace safety isn’t compromised is a part of that culture. Moreover, hold safety meetings, talk to employees about workplace safety, have them talk about their experiences regarding safety.
Proper Training and Employee Engagement
Workplace safety is all about keeping the employees safe from workplace illnesses or injuries. They are the actual ones doing the heavy lifting, sometimes literally, and are putting their lives on the line. Thus, organizations focusing on workplace safety emphasize educating their employees about it. Employees are educated via training sessions, periodic safety meetings, one-to-one meetings, and so on. However, providing only new employees with training is a move that might prove to be disastrous down the line. Instead, train all of the employees whenever a new specialized machine, equipment, policy, or safety measure is introduced - keep in mind that these sessions are required when these might have effects on workplace safety. For instance, a new piece of equipment might require special handling by the operator, and doing it the wrong way might cause a safety incident.
Providing training and safety meetings help improve efficiency, reduce workplace incidents, and boost employee retention.
Fortunately, organizations nowadays have ample guidelines to follow that help them ensure workplace safety. OSHA, for instance, provides the rules and regulations that organizations must adhere to in order to not only ensure compliance but also prevent workplace incidents. Moreover, organizations have a lot of options that help them improve compliance, for instance, OSHA recordkeeping software helps streamline compliance and reduce the workload.
Having a seasoned workplace safety professional ensures that organizations are ticking all the right boxes when it comes to OSHA compliance. These are individuals that focus on workplace safety and can help conduct inspections, improve the existing safety policy, monitor workplace incidents, suggest the proper safety equipment required, and come up with hotspots that need to be addressed.
Moreover, there are other cases where compliance needs to be ensured, and that can be done by being proactive rather than reactive. For instance, organizations that are ensuring workplace safety properly are not waiting for incidents to happen - they actively detect anomalies.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to workplace safety - different organizations implement different practices to ensure a safe workplace for their employees. How are you ensuring safety for your employees, and are the measures effective enough?