Safety should always be a top priority in any organization regardless of the size or nature of its operation. When employers take the initiative to promote a culture of safety, they protect not only their employees’ health but also the company’s reputation.
An unsafe work environment is detrimental to productivity and, not to mention, costly for the organization. In fact, work-related injuries cost companies more than $260 billion every year, according to a study by Rebecca J. Mitchell and Paul Bates titled “Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss.”
Different organizations have different needs when it comes to safety. For example, a construction company will need to implement a set of preventive measures that are different from those of a law firm. Still, many health and safety hazards are relatively common to any organization regardless of what industry it belongs to. Here are four workplace health and safety hazards that every company needs to know.
Employees Who Are Unfit to Work
Each person in your organization can be either an asset or a liability. Employees who are unfit and unqualified to work can have devastating consequences for everyone in the workplace.
Sick employees can spread communicable diseases, and impaired or unqualified workers operating heavy machinery can cause fatal accidents. That said, you need to make sure you have tests in place to assess whether an applicant is fit for the job or not. Depending on the nature of the work or company operations, these assessment procedures can include company health screenings such as psychological evaluations, impairment tests, and drug testing.
Many companies do random drug testing as a deterrent for employees who may experiment with drugs, thus reducing the likelihood of accidents resulting from working under the influence. However, employees who do not pass a drug test must also be given the right to defend a positive drug test result that may be attributed to a pot-smoking member of the family, over-the-counter medications, or a poppy-seed bagel, which is a type of bread derived from opium poppies.
Improperly Secured Areas
Certain areas in the workplace can be considered riskier compared to others. For example, high places can be perilous and can cause deadly falls. In fact, 14 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014 were caused by falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Different safety hazards require different solutions. For example, construction firms that have employees working at dangerous heights should provide safety gear like harnesses and make sure the hazardous area has guardrails and sturdy ladders installed.
Another example would be an area with high-voltage electrical systems that can electrocute uninformed people. In this case, it is best to completely lock up this place and grant access only to authorized personnel.
Invest in security devices that cannot be easily tampered with. But then, tools used to open doors and deadbolts, such as electric lockpicking guns, are also necessary during an emergency and should only be kept with the security personnel to avoid break-ins.
Lack of Emergency Protocols
Safety should not be the responsibility of just the managers or security officers. Every employee must have at least practical knowledge on how to respond effectively especially during emergency situations.
Do your employees know what to when an earthquake or fire happens? Does everyone in the company know where to find a first aid kit within the premises? Discuss with managers and supervisors how you can come up with an emergency program that is specific and relevant to the operations of your company.
Furthermore, make sure that this information is adequately disseminated to all members of the organization. Knowing certain key information can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
Sanitation is essential regardless of the type of business you are in. A dirty and unkempt workplace is the perfect breeding ground for germs, which can cause a host of diseases from the common cold to more severe infections like tetanus. Furthermore, messy offices can be detrimental to an employee’s productivity and focus. Make sure your organization has effective housekeeping practices in place.
Even if you can afford to hire a janitorial team to maintain your workspace, it is still important to make every employee accountable for cleanliness and order. Provide accessible garbage bins so the employees can properly dispose of their trash; promote a clean-as-you-go rule in communal areas like cafeterias, and schedule regular general cleanings.
If you want a culture of safety and health to flourish within your business, then you will need the help of all your employees. Organizational safety is an ongoing process, and everyone has a part to play throughout this critical process.
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