Workplace safety has come a long way since the introduction of the Industrial Age when profits took precedence over the well-being of employees. In today’s global market, profits and employee safety go hand-in-hand. Workplace accidents can cut directly into a company’s bottom line through health care costs, regulatory fines incurred, litigation and the loss of consumer confidence. Company leaders are finding it necessary to focus more heavily than ever before on managing workplace safety.
Personal Protective Equipment
Trends in safety incidents globally show that the increased use of personal protective equipment, or PPE, has successfully reduced the number of vision and respiratory problems occurring on the job. Safety glasses or goggles are required to protect the eyes where debris particles, liquids, gases and light radiation represent a workplace hazard. Personal respirators are required where employees could encounter smoke, dangerous gases or vapors, insufficient levels of oxygen and other breathing hazards.
Protecting employees from falls is one area companies should apply greater attention. Trends have shown that falling incidents resulting in injury or death continue to be on the rise globally. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a fall from 6 feet or higher could result in serious injury or even death. Jobs that put employees at risk of falls should be carefully coordinated and the right equipment must be provided. The right equipment might mean selecting the best ladder or scaffolding to fit the needs of the job, and requiring the use of safety harnesses, referred to as personal fall arrest systems.
Safety Management Programs
As company leaders increase their focus on safety, managers responsible for safety programs are finding themselves with a heavier workload. These managers work with executives, plant floor employees and everyone in between, coordinating safety processes and training programs. To keep safety programs compliant with governmental regulations, safety managers must stay on top of what those regulations specify. If the company has a global footprint, the manager might also have to learn international regulations and establish standard processes that meet every requirement.
Increased leadership attention and safety programs targeting organizational training pave the way for developing a corporate culture with a focus on safety. Building a safety-conscious culture is a key trend that is bringing safety awareness to all levels of an organization, from the offices to the factory floor. Awareness starts with communication. Safety management program leaders must also train employees about what sort of workplace hazards they might face, and how to work safely around these hazards.