If you own or operate a business, protecting your employees from harm not only keeps them healthier and happier, but it can also prevent disastrous losses in your day-to-day productivity. Here are four important tips that can help you run a safer workplace.
1. Eye Protection
Construction equipment and methods can pose numerous threats to the delicate tissues of the eye. Saws and other carpentry tools, for instance, can launch wood chips or splinters directly into the eye, causing permanent damage, while chemical laboratories may expose the eyes to corrosive substances. Protective eyewear provides a simple way to guard against these dangers, but you have to know which type of eyewear suits each situation.
- If your employees work around flying debris but face no other types of vision risks, then issue safety glasses that include protection at the sides of the face.
- Employees who work with toxic substances need to wear protective goggles. Vented goggles may be adequate against liquids that splash toward the face, but non-vented goggles are necessary if there is any danger from toxic or corrosive fumes.
- Welders require special hoods or goggles that protect the eyes, not only from sparks, from also from high-intensity ultraviolet radiation.
2. Hearing Protection
The delicate hair-like cells that transfer sound within the ear can sustain permanent damage from prolonged or repeated exposure to loud noise. Approximately 125,000 U.S. employees have suffered workplace-related hearing loss since 2004. You can help protect your workers against these issues by implementing hearing protection measures at your facility.
- Use a noise meter to measure the number of decibels in a given area. 85 decibels is considered the cutoff point at which permanent hearing damage becomes a risk for full-time workers.
- The safest response to noise is to reduce workers' exposure. Alter the schedule so that your employees are exposed to noise for limited periods, in shifts.
- Where practical, you can add soundproofing materials such as acoustic panels to enclosed spaces where noise becomes a problem.
- If you can't control the noise level in the work environment, issue protective earmuffs or earplugs to your workers and enforce rules about wearing them in noisy areas.
3. Safe Warehouse Practices
Improper lifting of heavy objects is a major cause of on-the-job injuries. While employees in any kind of workplace can injure themselves in this manner, you must take special precautions if you run a warehouse facility where heavy lifting occurs frequently.
- Educate your workers on the proper ways to lift a heavy object without mechanical assistance. Common tips include bending at the knees and recruiting the aid of a co-worker.
- Make sure you have plenty of warehouse material handling supplies on hand, such as carts, dollies, and pallets. This will spare your workers from having to carry heavy objects for unreasonable distances. Back braces and support belts can help prevent spinal injuries.
4. Safety for Transportation Workers
Employees involved in the transportation of goods must contend with a number of potential hazards, from vehicle failure to improper dismounts from a truck cabin. You can help ensure your transportation workers' safety in the following ways:
- Instruct truck drivers in the correct way to enter and exit a cabin -- by keeping three points of contact (hands and/or feet) on the vehicle at all times. Make sure they know that jumping haphazardly from the cabin can cause serious spinal and joint injuries.
- Install GPS tracking devices in your vehicles. If your driver goes missing due to an accident or assault and can't call for help, you can detect the vehicle's location and then direct emergency aid to that spot.
- Have all your vehicles inspected thoroughly at regular intervals, correcting any problems that turn up immediately. See to it that routine maintenance is carried out at manufacturer-recommended intervals.
Once you have the right physical protection, employee education and other protective measures in place, you'll sleep better knowing that your employees are safer while your business stands a better chance of staying consistently productive. When everybody is safe, everybody wins!