Workplace health and safety are vital to any organization, as it plays a significant role in employee productivity, morale, and business profit. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), over 2.3 million workers die yearly from occupational accidents and diseases, and another 317 million suffer from non-fatal injuries.
These statistics are not only alarming, but they highlight the need for employers to implement mitigating measures to limit the risks of work-related hazards. In this post, we discuss some implementable measures that can help improve workplace health and safety in various sectors and settings.
Measures to Adopt in Implementing Workplace Safety:
1. Risk Assessment
Risk assessment involves identifying and evaluating potential hazards that may arise due to work activities, equipment failure, material unoriginality, or environmental and human factors. You can utilise risk assessment to determine the likelihood of severe outcomes and the appropriate preventive measures to minimise them.
A competent risk assessor with relevant knowledge, skills and experience in this work field best conducts the assessment procedure. Workers and their representatives should also participate as they could provide valuable insight into the working conditions and potential risk factors.
2. Hazard Identification, Control, And Elimination
Hazard identification entails rooting out indicators that can harm company workers or property. These hazards can occur as physical (noise, heat, radiation), chemical (gases, liquids, solids), biological (bacteria, viruses, fungi), or organisational (poor work culture, management style, or harassment). Hazard control covers adaptable measures to reduce risks associated with work hazards.
An example of such a measure presents in hierarchical controls, which prioritise the most effective industry techniques over the least effective ones. This control hierarchy consists of:
- Elimination: removing the hazard completely from the workplace (e.g., replacing a hazardous substance with a safer one)
- Substitution: Replacing a hazard with a less hazardous one (e.g., using a lower voltage or a less toxic chemical)
- Engineering: redesigning the work environment or equipment to minimise exposure to hazards (e.g., installing ventilation systems, guards, alarms)
Hazard elimination is the ultimate goal of hazard control, as it completely eliminates the source of damage. However, in some cases, hazard elimination may not be feasible even after conducting a health and safety audit due to technical or economic reasons. In such cases, hazard control measures will aim to reduce the risk to an acceptable level that does not compromise health and safety.
3. Training And Education
Training and educating workers to remain aware of emergent workplace health and safety issues is an essential facet of improving safety in the workplace. Such safety courses should cover topics such as:
- Legal rights and responsibilities of employers and employees regarding health and safety
- Hazards and risks eminent in the workplace and how to identify, control and eliminate them
- Safe work practices and procedures to follow in n emergencies
- The use of protective gear and safety equipment
- Reporting accidents, incidents and near misses
These safety courses should be provided by qualified trainers with wide expertise in health and safety matters and tailored to suit the specific needs and characteristics of the workers, such as their language, literacy level, and risk-taking proclivity.
With the number of annual deaths and injuries from work-related accidents, prioritising workplace health and safety becomes imperative for any and all organisations. Implementable measures such as risk assessment, hazard control, and comprehensive training can foster a culture of safety and well-being, securing a flourishing workforce and prosperous businesses.