Keeping Your Employees Safe in the Workplace
We all know the importance of health and safety in the workplace. But knowing about it is not quite enough. As an employer, you have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees. Workplaces should be free from recognized hazards and comply with standard rules and regulations issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Workers have the right to receive workplace safety and health training in a language understood by them, to receive required safety equipment, review records of work-related injuries and illness and see test results taken to find workplace hazards.
This really is an area that business owners must spend time on getting correct so here are just a few pointers to get you started but please note that this list is not exhaustive and further reading around health and safety should be considered for your individual business.
While smaller companies (those with fewer than 10 employees) and employers in certain low-hazard industries are not required to keep records of work-related injuries and illness, it is good practice to have protocols in place from the very beginning. This information can help employers, workers and outside agencies to evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards and implement certain protections to prevent future workplace illnesses and injuries.
It is also essential that employees (or their authorized representatives) are able to access employee medical records and exposure records. Both employees and former employees have the right to access a log of work-related injuries and illness so it is vital that this is kept accurate and up-to-date.
It goes without saying that all employees have the right to use safe tools and equipment. As an employer, it is your job to ensure that these are properly maintained and safe for use.
Another responsibility as an employer is to ensure that employees are warned of potential hazards and dangers, using appropriate color codes, posters, labels and signs. Companies such as offer comprehensive signage LEM products, which could prevent your company from paying thousands of dollars in fines or an employee from seriously injuring themselves.
Signage must be formed from a distinct set of shapes and colors that denote different levels of severity for a universal understanding, surpassing any potential language barriers. You must also display, in a prominent location within the workplace, guidelines that inform employees of their rights and responsibilities.
Ultimately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration strongly encourages all employers to adopt a safety and health program. These are universal interventions that could hugely reduce the amount and severity of workplace injuries, as well as adopting the ideas above on the use of safety equipment, signage and documentation. Providing a workplace free from serious recognized hazards, which also complies with the standards, rules and regulations issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, is no quick fix. However, it is an absolutely vital investment of time to work through the requirements, ensuring the safety of everyone within the workplace.