Losing workers to injury or illness, even for a short time, can cause disruptions at work and are costly to employers, employees and their families. It can also damage workplace morale and productivity. One of the "root causes" of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated.
A critical element of any effective safety and health program is a proactive, ongoing process to identify and assess such hazards. Health and safety initiatives foster a proactive approach to identify and fix workplace hazards before they can cause injury or illness. Rather than reacting to an incident, management and workers collaborate to identify and solve issues before they occur. This combined with a root cause analysis of why injuries happen can help to understand the circumstances that caused the incident and put into place practices required to prevent them from happening again. This collaboration builds trust, enhances communication, and often leads to other business improvements.
Hazards can vary greatly by industry and the type of job functions your employees do. When planning a health and safety initiative, remember to assess the work environment of your organization to truly understand the health and safety risks, and interests of your employees.
So what can you do? Where should you begin?
Step 1: Identify hazards and assess risks
Look for these common hazards in your office:
- poor or inadequate lighting;
- ergonomic hazards;
- extremes of temperature;
- poor air quality;
- slip, trip and fall hazards;
- electrical hazards (e.g., appliances, power sockets, etc.);
- psychosocial factors (e.g., stress, hostility, depression, job control);
- fire hazards; and
- chemical hazards (e.g., cleaning products).
Step 2: Assess health and safety concerns using a hazard audit tool.
Step 3: Plan your health and safety initiative.
Use the information gathered from your hazard audit tool, coupled with other assessment data, to prioritize which health and safety topic you will focus on first. This will help to put in place preventive measures to help employees take ownership of improving health and well-being and minimizing hazards and safety concerns. Health and Safety is good business. It's the right thing to do, and doing it right pays off in increased productivity and higher employee morale.