If employers and employees work together to reduce the number and severity of accidents and incidences in the workplace, everyone benefits from it. From the employers point of view, it is an important way of reducing legal exposure and from an employees point of view, it means ensuring your health and wellbeing are protected, both for your sake and for those of your family and friends.
Here is a quick and easy three-step plan to help you work together to create a safer workplace for everyone.
Step 1: Locate any hazards
How do you locate hazards in the workplace? Follow these simple guidelines:
Start by prioritizing safety as an issue. Employers should appoint people to coordinate safety issues and make their senior management accountable for safety in the workplace. If this is not being done, it may be possible the employer is in breach of the applicable Australian state legislation relating to workplace safety.
Start talking amongst yourselves, and actively looking at your organization to check whether or where the potential hazards exist. This might include creating a Safety Action Plan. Look at your organizations past. What injury records exist or what type of claims has been made before?
Take a look at your industry. What are the causes of injuries and fatalities? Not all injuries are immediately obvious, so look for long-term effects as well, such as exposure to chemicals.
By doing all of these activities, and compiling a list of potential areas to examine, you have made a great start to addressing any hazardous conditions in the workplace.
Step 2: Assess the risks for their seriousness
Your highest priority hazards to fix are those that have the potential to cause injury or disease, or pose a risk to public safety.
Within any organization, possible hazards vary in their risk to employees. For instance, some potential hazards may cause cuts and bruises which are significantly less threatening than a serious or fatal injury. Some hazards will be everyday occurrences while others may be intermittent or occur once every now and then. You need to prioritize your workplace risks based on their seriousness and frequency, and look for interim measures you can put in place while a permanent solution is being developed and implemented.
Step 3: Fix Your Workplace Safety Problems
The most important step of all is to fix your workplace safety risks or, if they cannot be removed completely, ensure you have an appropriate way to control it. Some risks may be easily removed. For instance, if you see cabling that has the potential to trip someone, remove it or affix it in such a way that tripping risk is reduced. Chemicals can be stored in special ways to remove risk and supplying the right breathing apparatus for employees is an important first step in ensuring that staff is protected.
When certain risks exist that cannot be totally removed, look at work procedures to see whether there are ways of altering how the work is done so that the process is safer. Protective clothing is extremely important in many of these environments.
See how easy it is to think safety in the workplace? There is no excuse why you are not starting to make your workplace safer today and every reason why you should begin.
Chris Mason is Director, and Sales and Marketing Manager, for Absolute Safety, a well-respected safety equipment and protective clothing retailer in Melbourne, Australia. To find out what you need for workplace safety, or to know more about safety equipment in Australia, talk to me on (03) 9543 7888.