A safe workplace is an efficient workplace. When the proper safety protections are in place, workers feel safe doing their job, are more productive, are more likely to take personal accountability and be engaged in work. Having a safe workplace is an ongoing process which involves a culture of safety, safety awareness, as well as safe practices and procedures. Safety awareness is a constant realization that every worker should have at all times. It involves being constantly aware of how they are working, and being able to recognize the hazards they face. Safety awareness is absolutely essential in mitigating safety-related risks.
WHIMIS/GHS HAZARD AWARENESS
All over the world, different countries have similar safety systems to help with worker awareness, but with the advent of globalization a universal system has been introduced. This system, called WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) was developed in response to the workers’ rights to know about the potential hazards with any chemical substance they use at work. In a global effort to ensure safe use, transportation, and disposal of dangerous chemicals, an internationally harmonized approach to classification and labeling was proposed. Today, WHMIS training is required across a wide variety of industries from construction, automotive, industrial, retail, food industry and more. The WHMIS GHS (Globally Harmonized System) was designed to provide clear, consistent label messages to chemical handlers and users, to emergency first respondents, and to the public. This new system ensures greater hazard awareness throughout the world, whereby every worker is able to understand the hazards posed by workplace materials.
FALL PROTECTION & WORKER AWARENESS
While risks posed by hazardous workplace materials must be mitigated, they are not the only hazards faced by workers. Falls are a major cause of injury and death in Ontario workplaces. The vast majority of these serious accidents are falls from heights—even though the height may be no more than two or three meters. Most of these injuries and deaths have happened because fall protection was either missing or not used. In Ontario, employers are required to provide workers with working at heights and fall-protection training if the workers will be exposed to fall hazards. Working at height training in SAFY provides workers with knowledge and trains them to be constantly aware of the safety risks, and work in a manner which reduces the likelihood as much as possible.
CONFINED SPACE AWARENESS
Another safety risk which employees must be aware of, is the risks associated with working in confined spaces. Confined spaces are potentially hazardous because they are difficult to enter into, work in, or exit from them. Employees working in such environments can face greater risk of entrapment, engulfment, and hazardous atmospheric conditions. When somebody works in such conditions, safety awareness is of paramount importance. Employers have considerable responsibilities to ensure worker safety. Employers in general industries must evaluate their workplaces to determine if spaces are permit spaces. “Permit spaces” or “permit-required confined spaces” refers to a space that meets the OSHA’s definition of a confined space containing health and safety hazards. The employer must inform exposed employees of their existence, location and the hazards they pose. This can be done by posting danger signs and ensuring adequate confined space entry game by SAFY.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKER SAFETY
The safety of workers in the workplace should always take priority. You need your workers to stay safe and able to perform their duties, so you have to ensure that the environment you put them in, is one which is safe enough for them to function in. Ensuring worker safety means creating a safe, efficient, positive workplace where employees are able to focus on productivity.
There are certain programs you must implement and focus on if you want to encourage an ideal safe environment for your workers.
The elements of the safety programs include the following:
Communication and involvement between the employer and the employee in relation to safety and health issues in the workplace.
A copy of the company’s employee safety and health policy.
Encouragement of employee involvement in policy-making for health and safety issues.
Participation in safety activities.
Regular and timely analysis of workplace conditions in an effort to identify and eliminate potential or existing hazards.
Ensuring the employees are aware of the hazard analysis for each job and process.
Ensuring that workers are aware of how to operate and maintain their personal protective gear.
Training workers to handle specific situations using the proper procedures.
Only allowing people who are authorized and instructed to do certain jobs, to actually do them.
Employees should be prepared with emergency drills.
Ensuring that you focus on the employees that are learning new operations in the workplace, so that you know if they have all the necessary job skills and hazard awareness.
Training managers and supervisor to spot hazards and understand what their responsibilities are in relation to them.