How to Protect Your Employees While at Work
Protecting your employees while at work isn’t just a good idea; it’s the law.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are legally required to protect employees from unsafe working conditions, whether the company is private or public. This law obligates employers to establish safe working environments that are free of hazards that may compromise the health and safety of their employees.
If you haven’t yet considered the safety of your workplace, it’s time you do so. Read on to learn how to create a safety plan that will protect your employees while at work.
Learn OSHA Standards
Since the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, a US department was created that is dedicated to enforcing this act. It’s known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA for short. OSHA has established a long list of safety standards for every industry.
Legally, your workplace must comply with the corresponding OSHA standards for your industry. OSHA standards cover virtually every part of your workplace, from walking surfaces and exit routes to ventilation and noise exposure. Before you open your doors, you must thoroughly educate yourself on OSHA standards for your industry and ensure that your workplace is up to snuff.
Offer Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In addition to following OSHA standards, most workplaces in the United States are legally obligated to offer workers’ compensation insurance to employees who are injured on the clock. Workers comp insurance offers wage replacement for any lost wages, as well as medical benefits for necessary medical assistance.
Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, so be sure to educate yourself on yours. Additionally, there are special laws for federal employees and other specific industries.
Because workers’ compensation laws can be extremely complex, it’s wise to work with an industry partner to manage any workers’ comp claims. They can help manage compliance, provide medical bill review, navigate medical claims, and process bills electronically.
Identify Potential Risks
Next, it’s time to get to work on your safety plan. The first step in creating a safety plan is to identify potential dangers. For a factory, risks may include the malfunction of heavy machinery, exposure to noxious substances or gasses, and other potential sources of bodily harm. In a warehouse, risks may come from improper handling of pallets or use of forklifts. Even an office building has risks, like exposure to poor air quality, electrical hazards, or workplace violence. No matter your industry, every workplace has risks. Identifying them is the first step in offering protection from them.
Once you’ve identified your workplace’s risks, it’s time to establish protocol for dealing with them. Go through each workplace risk and create a plan in the event that it occurs. For instance, what will you do in the event of a fire? What about in the event of an intruder? How will your workplace handle a natural disaster?
This plan should be rather detailed. Identify specific tasks that must be completed in the event of an emergency and assign a person to oversee that task. Your industry’s OSHA standards will also outline requirements for the creation of specific safety plans. Review those and confirm that you’ve met all obligations.
Now that you’ve identified risks and established a protocol for dealing with each, it’s time to educate all employees on that protocol. Afterall, a protocol is nothing if it isn’t utilized!
Upon hiring new employees, educate each on the safety protocol of your workplace. Provide thorough training on how to operate machinery, what to do in the event of common safety concerns, and protocol for emergencies. Additionally, place required OSHA flyers, posters, and compliance signs near dangerous equipment and in high-traffic places, such as the employee break room. Finally, provide regular safety plan refreshers to all employees, along with personal protective equipment (PPE).That may include things like workplace safety training days, emergency drills, and more.
Running a business is hard work. However, no matter your industry, it’s your duty as an employer to protect your employees. By following these steps, you can create a workplace that is not only welcoming, but is safe, too.
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