Is Your Work Environment Safe?
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) employs about 2,100 inspectors to cover more than 8 million worksites around the country. That comes out to about one inspector per 59,000 workers. While every office, construction site, restaurant and store are required to comply with OSHA standards, it’s up to business owners and employees to make sure their work environment is a safe place to be every day. So how do you know if your work environment is safe?
Identify Potential Hazards
You can’t have a safe work environment if you don’t know what the potential hazards are. Safety Works recommends looking through your records, OSHA logs, workers’ compensation reports and employee complaints to look for patterns of unsafe conditions or practices. Look to see if accidents tend to happen at a certain time of day, at a certain location, on equipment or on the same parts of the body. You also should speak to your employees to see if they’ve noticed any problems and how they feel about their physical and mental safety.
Bring in Professionals
Once you identify any potential hazards, you may want to bring in an inspector, contractor or other professional to fix the problem areas. For example, if you find that there is a wiring problem in your office space, hire an electrician to bring it up to code. Or, if employees have been reporting minor injuries, bring in an inspector to check your machines, personal protective equipment and safety signs to help prevent accidents.
For any accidents or health problems that have already occurred, you or your employees may want to hire a lawyer to evaluate the legal aspects. For example, if you discovered asbestos in your building, a mesothelioma lawyer can help any victims determine if there’s a case to pay for medical bills.
Every time you hire new employees, you need to make sure they receive the proper training to do their job. Show them how to work with your equipment, where your personal protective equipment is and what safety protocols you have in place. Even things that seem like common sense should be covered just in case.
It’s also important to review safety training with current employees. Set up regular times to review the process you have in place and any new items that employees need to be aware of. Even if you don’t work with large equipment, you still should go over physical and mental health with your employees. Encourage them to get up and move during the day, take breaks and report any problems.
Set up a Reporting System
As a business owner, you need to empower your employees to report anything that makes them feel unsafe. Let your employees know that you take their safety seriously and that they can always speak with you about any problems. You also may want to set up an anonymous reporting system for employees who don’t feel comfortable coming to you or another manager. If you hear about any issues, make sure your employees know that you heard them and are going to take all the necessary steps to correct the problems. In addition to on-the-job physical hazards, you also should be open with your employees about mental health and sexual harassment. Your employees should feel safe in every way when coming to work, so let them know that you are making them your top priority.