Did you know that in 2019, 2.8 per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in the US got injured or ill on the job? All in all, some 2.8 million work non-fatal injuries and illnesses took place in the private sector that year.
The thing is, many of those cases were preventable with workplace safety protocols. In fact, studies found that 99% of accidents are preventable.
Now, keep in mind that employers have the legal duty to keep their workers safe and healthy. That’s why it’s vital to enforce stringent protocols at work.
We’ll share some of the most effective ways to maintain a safe workplace in this guide, so be sure to read on!
Enforce Strict Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act Compliance
The OSH Act of 1970 is a federal labor law that governs safe workplace conditions in the US. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in turn, enforces this law.
The OSH Act applies to the majority of private employers and some in the public sector. By law, employers must protect their workers from workplace safety and health hazards. Such dangers include toxic chemicals, unsanitary worksites, and deafening noise.
One OSHA standard is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). OSHA PPE requirements include eye, face, ear, hand, body, and foot protection. Some high-risk sectors, such as construction, have industry-specific PPE requirements.
Note that OSHA has the authority to cite and penalize non-compliant employers. The fines are hefty, too, ranging from $5,000 to $70,000 per violation. More severe violations can even lead to employers getting imprisoned.
Identify What Dangers Your Workers Are Dealing With
To create a safe workplace, one must recognize the hazards that a job site poses to workers. By knowing what can harm your employees, you can take steps to reduce or eliminate these risks.
For example, the construction sector is notorious for having a high fall death rate. A long-term study from 1982 to 2015 found that 42% of construction site deaths involved falls. Of these people who died, more than half weren’t using a fall arrest system.
In warehouses, the most common hazards include forklift accidents, slips, and trips. Falling objects or getting trapped between objects are also widespread in this sector.
In restaurants, injuries from tools and chemical and fire burns are common. Many workers also deal with overexertion injuries, exhaustion, slips, trips, and falls.
As you can see, many workplace hazards are specific or more common in certain industries. That’s why building effective workplace health and safety regulations start with hazard identification.
For accurate danger identification, consider hiring workplace risk assessment consultants. These experts can help you with the recognition of OSHA compliance gaps. They can also help you create a plan to correct hazards and improve workplace safety.
Educate and Train Your People
Employees have the right to work in a place that won’t put their health and safety at risk. At the same time, it is their duty to abide by all applicable OSHA and employer safety standards.
However, they won’t know what these standards are if they don’t get proper training.
As such, employers must educate workers on OSHA and the company’s safety regulations. The training programs must use language that is easy for employees to understand. For example, if you have workers whose mother tongue is Spanish, you must use this language to train them.
The training itself must cover all potential hazards in the workplace. It must also educate workers on what they must do to avoid putting themselves in harm’s way. For example, it must teach them the proper way to use machines and tools and handle chemicals.
Keep Indoor Air Pollution at Bay
Indoor air pollutant concentrations can be up to five times higher than outside. This is a huge problem in workplaces that use many chemicals or generate a lot of airborne debris. A few examples are manufacturing, cleaning services, and healthcare facilities.
Exposure to poor indoor air can lead to eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation. It can also result in headaches, fatigue, and impaired focus. Diseases like allergy and asthma may also develop in workers who breathe in polluted air.
There are no OSHA rules on indoor air quality (IAQ), but it does have ventilation standards. The agency also has requirements on certain air pollutants that can affect IAQ. Do note, too, that California and New Jersey have state-specific IAQ standards.
To keep IAQ woes at bay, go for regular heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) tune-ups. A well-maintained HVAC system is efficient in removing stale, dirty indoor air. It also helps in the entry and circulation of fresh outdoor air within the workplace.
Regularly Clean and Disinfect Your Facilities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting. One of these is the use of disinfectants in the Environmental Protection Agency’s N list. These products are potent enough to kill the COVID-19 virus.
However, N list products are only effective if used as directed by the manufacturer.
For that reason, it’s best to leave the cleaning and disinfection to the pros. At the very least, have your workplace cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.
Follow Equipment Maintenance Schedules
Contact with objects or equipment injured 22.4 per 10,000 full-time US workers in 2019. Many of these injuries resulted from the use of faulty or ill-maintained equipment. Injured workers, in turn, lost about five workdays due to their job accident.
With that said, make sure you only let your workers use well-maintained work equipment. OSHA and manufacturers have guidelines on when to carry out these tune-ups. Some are daily, while others are weekly, monthly, and routinely.
Workplace Safety Is Key To Saving Lives and Happy Employees
As you can see, there are many ways to maintain a high level of workplace safety at all times. However, it all starts with knowing what hazards are present on the job site. The more aware you are of the harm that can befall your workers, the more steps you can take to get rid of these hazards.
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