Safety practices and procedures in the workplace are part of federal regulations overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Regardless of regulations, a work environment promoting safe and healthy workers improves productivity and has an impact on the bottom line, reducing downtime, workers compensation claims and improving morale. A small business should continually strive to improve safety standards within its own work environment.
Four-Point Workplace Program
The Four-Point Workplace Program is the foundation of a company’s safety program as described by OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines issued in January 1989. The program is outlined with worksheets at OSHA.gov to help business managers assess and implement the right safety measures. This voluntary program helps businesses establish priorities for safety in the workplace based on internal needs. Some businesses don’t have as many hazards as others and have a Four-Point Workplace Program that reflects fewer possible dangers.
Employee education starts with posting policies on workplace safety in a high-traffic, visible location at the company. Beyond posting, employees should be trained through seminars and workshops on higher safety standards, including dangerous machinery, physically challenging tasks and employee responsibilities. Let employees know that those who consistently demonstrate risky behavior will be suspended or terminated for the safety of everyone. Solicit feedback from employees who have working assessments of what areas pose more danger. According to a booklet by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies who provide worker’s compensation insurance, making employees accountable and part of the process greatly reduces the number of workplace injuries.
While employees may provide a valuable perspective on the dangers existing in the workplace, it is vital that business owners review all hazardous materials, chemicals, machinery and work areas. Something as obscure as an unmarked step can be a significant danger. Make sure chemicals are labeled with proper storage areas. Mark slippery or hazardous walkways. Provide protocol procedures to all employees near any hazardous chemical or machinery empowering all employees to aid in injury prevention with swift and proper action plans when things go wrong.
Maintain accurate records of any and all injuries reported in the workplace to track progress with implemented safety procedures. Constantly assess what is working and what needs more improvements, whether it is training or changes to the environment. Posting a “slippery when wet” sign may not resolve the number of falls in a particular corridor; adding traction pads may be the next step to improve safety conditions and reduce injury.