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Why is workplace health and safety important?

The primary goal of occupational health and safety (OHS) is to safeguard employees in the workplace from accidents, injuries, and exposure to hazardous substances. While accidents can occur at any moment, it is the employer’s responsibility to make efforts to decrease the likelihood of occurrences and maintain a safe working environment.

Prioritizing OHS in your organization has several significant advantages, including:

  • We lower the possibility of accidents or injuries by identifying and managing hazards.

  • increased efficiency and productivity as a result of fewer employees missing work due to illness or injury.

  • Employee morale and interactions have improved (a safer work environment is a less stressful work environment).

  • Expenditures related to accidents or injuries are reduced (healthcare and rehabilitation costs, productivity losses, and influence on employee well-being).

  • Insurance premiums are lower as a result of fewer workplace events and workers’ compensation claims.

It’s no secret that all industries have some kind of safety risk. The most important component of a successful Occupational Health and Safety policy is recognizing these threats and ensuring that staff have the necessary training, safety equipment, and other resources.

Failure to implement adequate policies and measures can result in injuries, decreased production owing to the absence or loss of skilled labor, workers’ compensation claims, and penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Depending on their industry, employees may be exposed to a variety of hazards:

  • Physical hazards are variables in the environment that can cause harm. Exposed electrical wiring, falling objects, wet floors, and other circumstances that can cause slips, falls, cuts, or other injuries are examples of these. Some physical risks, such as excessive noise, heat, and pressure, may not require physical touch to produce harm.

  • Biological risks can cause illnesses, infections, and other severe health problems. Biological risks include mold and fungi, blood and other bodily fluids, bacteria, viruses, sewage, and vermin. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential for avoiding biological risks and protecting your health.

  • Chemical toxins can be inhaled as gases or vapors, or they can come into contact with the skin as liquids or solids. They can cause skin irritation, burns, breathing issues, blindness, and other major health problems. To avoid exposure, chemicals such as cleaning solutions, acids, insecticides, and petroleum compounds must be handled safely and with suitable PPE.

  • Ergonomic dangers inflict strain on the body’s muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues. They can be caused by poor posture, the failure to use dollys or other mechanical aids, and repetitive or difficult lifting or movement. Musculoskeletal injuries such as muscular sprains, ruptured or herniated discs, and carpal tunnel syndrome might result.

  • Depression, focus issues, inattention, or neglect can all be caused by psychological dangers. Work-related stress, weariness, harassment, and violence are examples of this sort of danger. These situations can contribute to low morale, decreased productivity and quality of work, and an increased risk of harm.  

How to encourage occupational health and safety at work

  1. Ensure that your OHS policies are in accordance with all federal and/or state rules and regulations.

  2. Ensure that your employees are appropriately trained and certified to operate any machinery or equipment that may be used in the workplace.

  3. Maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS or MSDS) for any chemical products used in your workplace and make sure they are freely available to your staff.

  4. All employees should have access to all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hard hats, eye protection, and respirators.

  5. Tools and other equipment should be used correctly and only for their intended purpose.

  6. When lifting or moving big things, use mechanical aids such as carts, dollies, or pallet jacks.

  7. Maintain proper posture whether sitting, standing, or lifting, especially for long periods of time.