What is safety at work?
A safe workplace is one where employees are at no or little risk of injury, where there are a minimal number of hazards, and where employees can do their jobs without worry. Better workplace safety practices mean an improved reputation, fewer incidents, more productivity, and less employee turnover.
Maintaining a safe work environment is a key responsibility of every employer, as safety at work is a cornerstone of employee rights, and an unsafe workplace means unhappy employees. There are many different philosophies and systems out there meant to help you improve safety at work.
What are workplace safety hazards?
Ensuring safety at work means diligently searching for and addressing workplace safety hazards. There are six general categories of hazard:
- Safety hazards, or hazards resulting from typical accidents like tripping or falling
- Physical hazards, which are situations where the environment itself is an injury risk. These include extreme temperatures, exposure to radiation, and similar.
- Biological hazards, such as disease passed from person to person
- Chemical hazards, which can cause issues like burns, rashes, or breathing problems
- Ergonomic hazards, which are situations where the body spends a lot of time in unnatural positions and result in muscular damage.
- Psychological hazards, such as too-high demand, inflexible managers, or hostile work environments
Regularly paying attention to your surroundings and work culture is crucial so that you can identify these hazards and take steps to remove them. When you find something impeding safety at work:
- Collect data on exactly what the issue is
- Inspect the workplace to see if processes are being followed correctly
- Communicate with team members about their experience with these hazards
- Investigate any incidents, accidents, near-miss events, or similar
- Document all your findings and the process of hazard removal for use in the future