Productivity and efficiency are two major cornerstones of an industry, but so is safety. However, it is often heard that the excess of safety measures daunts workers’ efforts to gain maximum momentum. The problem with such safety measures is that they aren’t well-though out, and aren’t designed from both the workspace and workers’ point of view. The best way to ensure a safe work environment is to have an organized plan in place that takes into account all major factors which may affect the industry’s safety.
Violations happen in every work environment. Sure, manufacturing industries are more at-risk due to high-power machinery, but other work environments such as commercial offices also violate safety regulations by trivial acts. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is well-known for its strict policies when it comes to enforcing safety and health legislations. Being the main federal agency, it sets workplace standards, either on its own or through invitation. It has an elaborate rulemaking process in place that includes acts such as public hearings resulting in a comprehensive guideline for employers.
Furthermore, OSHA also carries out frequent onsite inspections without advanced notice to make sure workers’ safety is not at risk.
These inspections however are usually carried out in the following order:
- Imminent danger (such as presence of toxic chemicals)
- Worker complaints
- Information about violations that may result in death or injuries
While stacks of paperwork are seemingly endless when it comes to following OSHA’s regulations, there are a few standards that are essential for workplace safety.
- Fall Protection – these are extremely common causes for series work injuries. OSHA states the requirements for protective equipment such as guards, handrails, toe boards, etc. to make sure the fall doesn’t happen in the first place; and even if it does the injury is minimum. Common violations include, lack of warning signs, damaged flooring or absence of safety equipment.
- Hazard Communication – chemicals pose a great risk to workers’ safety not only in manufacturing and construction industries, but also in common workplaces, e.g. cleaning chemicals, printing fluids, etc. According to OSHA, the severity of damage that these chemicals can cause should be clearly labelled before distribution. Also, they should be stored in a safe location to avoid any spillage.
- Scaffolding – Slipping, getting struck by a falling object or lack of support are the most common causes of scaffold-related injuries. By using height restrictions, supports and weight limits, these injuries can be avoided. Construction industries should place extra emphasis on making sure they are following OSHA’s standards.
- Respiratory protection – dusts, smokes, toxic vapors, etc. can lead to a hazardous workplace especially in manufacturing industries. Hundreds of deaths due to respiratory diseases can be avoided only through proper protection. Clean air is imperative for work. Employers should make sure proper ventilation is in place. In addition, equipment such as masks should be available for workers at hazardous sites.
- Powered Industrial Trucks – from falling load accidents to crashes, forklifts pose a significant hazard. OSHA states that the drivers must be over 18 years old and must possess a certification to operate these vehicles.
If these rough guidelines weren’t enough for you, then another way to ensure a safe work environment, is to ask the following questions:
- Are the raw materials stored at proximity to the manufacturing area where they are required?
- Is the material handling equipment such as forklifts of the correct size and dimensions?
- Is the work station equipment in order?
- Are tools and supplies available readily?
- Are critical spare parts available that are required to keep the machinery online?
- Are the housekeeping procedures definite and organized?
- Is there a comprehensive maintenance program in place?
- Have you brought in automation to lifting and labor-intensive processes?
- Are all the employees trained according to their duties?
Interested in learning more about ensuring safety in your work environment?
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