The federal government and the states work to safeguard the occupational safety and health of employees in the workplace. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with state-level agencies, both issue and enforce regulations for workplace safety. Generally, the health and safety of employees in the workplace depends on effective employer and employee safety practices, as well as appropriate safety equipment. An employer's particular industry and workplace environment also dictates the items needed to ensure workplace safety.
Workplace Safety Environment
Unless employers and employees agree on the need to ensure workplace safety, an employer's safety program may be ineffective. For example, a chemical manufacturer and its employees should focus on proper respirator usage as well as items needed to control spills. An employer's office areas must also be staffed with managers and employees supportive of good safety practices. Employers can create effective workplace safety environments by equipping work areas with safety items such as fire extinguishers and eye wash stations where required.
Workplace Safety Items
The particular safety items needed in a workplace depends on the purpose and products handled in that workplace. However, certain workplace safety items are common in almost all industries and occupations, including fire exit signage and fire extinguishers. Additionally, employers are generally required by federal and state regulations to have fire exit and evacuation route maps displayed for employee reference. In workplaces where the possibility of exposure to workplace chemicals and fluids exists, employers must also have working eyewash stations.
Industrial Safety Items
Industrial areas typically need far more in the way of safety items than do offices. While good lighting and attention to ergonomics are important for office employees, good lighting, sufficient ventilation and a variety of safety equipment is vital in industrial environments. Common safety items in the industrial workplace include hard hats, safety glasses and foot protection, such as safety shoes. In most industrial or manufacturing environments, proper worker hearing protection is practically a must, as well.
Workplace Safety Checklists
If your employer has given you the duty of creating or maintaining a workplace safety program, refer first to pertinent OSHA regulations. OSHA itself helpfully provides online workplace safety handbooks for small and large businesses, including safety self-audit and inspection checklists. OSHA self-audit checklists allow you to determine which safety items your workplace requires, including any personal protective equipment, or PPE. OSHA also recommends or may even require employers to keep fully stocked first aid cabinets.