By Audrey M. Jones
When it comes to workplace safety, some topics, like proper hygiene and violence prevention, apply to all industries and job environments. Others, like hazardous materials, only affect workers in certain fields. Either way, proper education can give employees the tools and knowledge they need to prevent accidents and fix problems that arise.
Personal Health Safety
All companies should be concerned about the spread of illness and disease, the importance of personal hygiene, and other health-related issues. Employees must be educated in the importance of using the proper hand washing methods as a way of stopping the spread of germs and preventing disease. Workers employed in fields that come in contact with chemicals, irritants, or other harmful agents need to know the importance of proper skin care and the use of barrier creams and protective gloves.
How to Teach Personal Health Safety
Try these ideas for teaching personal health and safety:
A great way to teach personal health and hygiene to employees is to hang posters in areas where employees wash their hands, change out of uniforms, or otherwise work on an aspect of their personal hygiene.
You might also consider hosting a seminar on the spread of germs. Inviting local medical professionals or toxicologists to speak on the issue can be an informative and direct way to teach about personal hygiene.
You can also take employees on a tour of similarly focused companies to demonstrate how other companies handle personal health safety. Your tour can focus on comparisons between the two workplaces.
Slip and Fall Safety
One of the most common causes of work-related injuries are slips and falls. There are several important steps you can take to prevent these accidents, including keeping floors clean, dry, and free of obstructions. It is also important to teach employees to do the following:
Become aware of possible dangers from water spills, dust from machines, and spots of grease or oil
Clean up or warn others about hazardous areas
Be aware of changes floor surfaces
Slow down when walking in a potentially hazardous area
Wear appropriate footwear
How to Teach Slip and Fall Safety
These ideas can help you teach this important safety topic:
A seminar and posters about preventing slips and falls can help instruct employees about avoiding these types of accidents. Display posters in areas where spills or leaks are most likely to occur.
Another way to teach slip and fall safety is to enact skits, either by yourself or in conjunction with employees, in which slips and falls happen. These skits can cover the proper and improper ways to prevent these events, areas in which slips and falls can happen, and how to react to an individual injured after falling.
Consider hosting an event in which employees create company-specific posters containing unique "prevent slip and fall" themes. These posers can be posted anywhere the employees think is best, and because they are created by the employees, they may garner more attention when hung.
Workplace Violence Safety
The threat of personal danger from workplace violence has become a serious concern. In some instances, environmental conditions have been associated with the violent attacks and assaults. Companies are addressing the issues surrounding this type of violence in the workplace. In addition, the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, offers recommendations and guidelines about this issue.
How to Teach Workplace Violence Safety
Try these ideas to help communicate this topic:
Consider providing seminars and distributing pamphlets to employees about workplace violence. Because the topic is sensitive, you might consider including a way for employees to anonymously report potentially violent individuals.
Holding group discussions about the seriousness of the issue may also help teach employees about workplace violence. Small groups, usually less than five people, may encourage participants to actively engage in discussions.
Showing videos about workplace violence occurrences and prevention methods is another way to teach employees about the issue. These videos can touch on this sensitive topic in an impactful way.
Ergonomic Concerns and Safety
Ergonomics focuses on making workplaces comfortable for workers. This includes placing items at the proper heights, such as desks and seats, to prevent muscular or skeletal strain or injuries. It also involves protecting employees from injuries that can result from repetitive motions.
How to Teach About Ergonomics
These ideas can help employees learn about ergonomics:
One way to teach ergonomics is by distributing pamphlets discussing two major ergonomic concerns: proper seating at a computer and keyboard height. You might also consider showing videos provided by ergonomic experts.
You can also teach ergonomics by splitting employees into small groups and having each group reorganize and refit group members' desk accessories during a workday. You can provide these groups with instruction sheets about the proper ergonomics and instruct them to work on each of their desks together so that it conforms to the document.
Finally, you can bring in a chiropractor and ergonomic specialist to discuss each employee's ergonomic behaviors individually. After providing a personal chiropractic consultation, the ergonomic consultant can review the employee's desk space to make changes conforming to the chiropractor's recommendations.
Safety Topics for Specific Work Environments and Industries
Many industries and work places have specific types of safety concerns. These include the following:
Asbestos in construction
Aerial platform safety
Construction site hygiene
Proper handling of power tools
Noise and hearing loss prevention
Safely handling flammable liquids
Workplace Safety Resources
Several government resources can help you with important safety topics involving the workplace:
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries provides an A-Z Safety and Health Topics list.
The State Compensation Insurance Fund provides dozens of articles pertaining to health and safety concerns of specific work environments in both English and Spanish.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, provides a comprehensive listing of more than 100 workplace safety and health articles relevant to specific jobs. Examples include abrasive blasting, carbon monoxide hazards from small gas powered engines, hazardous drug exposures in healthcare, and much more.
Common Workplace Concerns
Companies have a responsibility to create a safe workplace for employees. To that end, they must provide employees with training in safety procedures and handling workplace hazards and dangers. Holding employee meetings to discuss relevant workplace safety topics is an important aspect of providing workers with a safe and healthy work environment.