One of a good employer’s top goals is to make sure employees go home as healthy as they came in. Taking steps toward your workers’ safety is imperative to a thriving environment; it creates more loyal employees, improves quality, and reduces the costs of injuries. When you want to take the next step before an injury or fine happens, these proactive steps will help you on your way.
1. Empower your employees
Who has the most experience with your facility and the equipment in it? Those who are working in the environment. They know when something is louder than it should be, or if their area is too hot to safely work in. You may have guessed this: The key to having a safe workplace is getting your employees involved.
You should always strive to create a culture where employees, especially hourly employees, know that they can and should contribute to the overall safety of their environment. You can do this by:
- Communicating safety as a company value through practices and decisions. Publicize your safety-related initiatives, and have a process in place for getting employee input and quickly following up on that input.
- Encourage participation by creating safety committees. Let employees become more involved with safety initiatives by helping to correct any hazardous environments from start to finish. The more involved people can be with the outcome, the more of a sense of personal responsibility they will have for safety itself.
Remember, there’s nothing more essential to workplace safety than the people who are working in it.
2. Interface with your medical staff
Some health hazards are less easily caught, especially any long-term chemical exposure that could lead to issues down the line. That’s why you need to interface with your medical staff. According to OSHA, “medical screening and surveillance are two fundamental strategies for optimizing employee health.”
A medical screening can identify conditions early that could become more serious down the line. A medical staff can check for exposure to lead, asbestos, and other toxic chemicals. Some companies, like Hytrol, have a medical clinic on site—however, these exams can be conducted by an outside party if necessary.
3. Hire an industrial hygienist
In simple terms, an industrial hygienist is a person who finds health hazards and corrects them. But their method is anything but simple. Industrial hygienists use strict scientific methodology to find these issues, working with many areas to implement safe systems and procedures in the workplace. They have to have a basis in many areas, from physics to toxicology, to be able to assess your work environment.
The industrial hygienist will use several methods to create assessments and corrections: talking to employees, conducting a walk-through survey, and using electronic measuring devices to measure hazardous elements like noise, dust, gases, and more.
In the United States, certain education, experience, and testing are required to be certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. These hygienists use the terms Certified Industrial Hygienist or Certified Associate Industrial Hygienist. To be accredited, these hygienists must continue their education, testing, and experience; so when you hire a CIH, you know you’re in good hands.
Workplace safety is your legal responsibility and being proactive may save you the costs of fines and injuries down the line, but it’s about more than that. A safe environment empowers your workers; they’re more likely to give their all to a company that is giving back to them. When you realize that your employees are your company’s greatest asset, creating a safe and healthy environment for them is a no-brainer.