Many companies face the difficult task of maintaining a safe workplace, but also high quality and production standards. However, high workplace safety standards can be achieved and maintained through certain guidelines and procedures that can be found in any good safety program. Below highlights some of the most basic ways to keep work environments safe.
OSHA requires monthly fire extinguisher inspections and annual training. However, inspections are often performed by maintenance and training by management. Instead, consider involving employees in every aspect of emergency inspections and training. For example, include other emergency equipment, such as first aid kits and eyewash stations, and empower the safety committee to inspect them. Create a map with the locations of every piece of equipment that employees can use to document their inspection. Archived inspection documentation is a great thing to show an OSHA inspector during a surprise visit. Next, instead of just having a supervisor read the fire extinguisher instructions to their employees every year, provide a live demonstration. Finally, be sure to have fire extinguishers serviced every few years.
Personal Protective Equipment
Employers are required to identify hazards, personal personal protective equipment (PPE) and train employees how to use them. Potential hazards include dust, chemicals, moving objects and heat or cold. Unfortunately, hazard assessments often identify problems that are simply assigned a required PP without any environmental adjustments. For example, management may respond to excessive dust in a furniture factory by simply handing out dust masks. However, engineering adjustments, such as equipment upgrades or add-ons, may actually reduce the dust. Similarly, certain warehouses require material handlers to frequently move heavy parts. If the warehouse installed portable conveyor belts, they would reduce the risk of back strains and pinched fingers.
The best way to reduce safety issues is through weekly and monthly walk-throughs. These formal events should involve maintenance, management and even employees. The small group should have a digital camera and notepad to document various safety problems. Inspections are excellent ways to identify housekeeping issues, tripping hazards and unprotected nip points. During the inspections, questions will be naturally asked about work processes and why things are being done a certain way. This is an excellent way to create constructive dialogue about improving work procedures. At the end, management should organize and document their findings, which can then be turned into an actionable work order list.
Job Safety Analysis
A job safety analysis, or JSA, is one of the best tools to keep workers safe and protect the company. JSAs are documents that identify a specific work task, the associated hazards, any corresponding safety concerns, required PPE and safe work procedures. For example, workers that are required to spray chemicals on machine parts would be required to wear eye and glove protection and be cautioned against contact with the chemicals. The job instructions would explain how to carefully apply the chemicals and how to properly store the chemical bottles in the appropriate locker. Employees should review the specific JSA before they begin any new job.
Employee and Management Training
Most industrial facilities provide limited training during new employee orientation and the required annual OSHA refresher training about certain topics, such as fire extinguishers and hazardous communication (HAZCOM). However, employee training goes beyond the basic requirements and should include specific, hands-on training. For example, never allow new employees to perform unsafe tasks without first working under the watchful eye of an experienced employee. Additionally, supervisors need regular safety training. This may prove difficult for certain supervisors who are either old-fashioned or have a lot of work experience. However, these supervisors need the most training. Otherwise, an accident or safety violation could result in hefty fines, injured workers and even lawsuits. Therefore, a safety supervisor is best suited for providing formal, mandatory training for other supervisors.
To review, workplace safety should be a priority of every company. There are many ways that companies can improve the safety standards of their work site. These include emergency equipment training, proper PPE and regular inspections. JSAs and employee training, especially supervisors, will cultivate a culture of safety.