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Managing the Risks to Workplace Health & Safety

Managing the Risks to Workplace Health & Safety

Office workplaces also are prone to health and safety risks

Workplace health and safety remain a major concern for businesses. In 2020, 4,764 workers died on the job in the United States. Another 2.6 million were injured or became ill in 2021. These statistics both show improvements over prior years. But if you’re the affected person, a coworker or a business affected by the incident, any death, injury or illness due to work is too much.

Health and safety incidents and problems can have profound effects on employees, their coworkers and their employers.

  • Take the employee out of commission for a period of time
  • Coworkers must make up the slack and deal with the ramification of a coworker suffering from the incident.
  • Coworkers may worry themselves about their own health and safety.
  • When employees don’t feel safe, morale can fall, and individual effort can wane.
  • Employers must address the injury or illness, investigate the incident, report to federal and state regulators, grapple with the reduced worker availability and consider improvements to avoid future issues.

All in all, it’s best to take the preventive steps that will avoid employee death, injury or illness due to the job.

While industrial employers know they’re the principal focus of health and safety risks and regulations, even office environments present health and safety risks:

  • Back injury from sitting at a desk or lifting boxes
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive tasks, like working at a computer or telephone bank all day
  • Slips, trips and falls in just moving around the workplace – a wet floor, exposed electrical cables, maintenance staff equipment in the corridors, reaching for something on a high shelf
  • Emergency fire and evacuation procedures
  • Workplace violence, including intruders, fights among staff that turn ugly, or domestic issues spilling into the workplace
  • Mental health concerns, including stress and worry about psychological safety
  • A coworker who receives a cut and helpful coworkers must be concerned with the risk of bloodborne pathogens

So, while managers in an industrial setting, including a factory, warehouse, or maintenance environment, have specific duties to evaluate the safety of the work and implement responsible measures to protect against health and safety, the same can be said for a manager in any work environment.  Low-level health and safety issues can arise anywhere with related ramifications.

Educating all managers to understand their responsibilities and take the right steps to proactively address potential risks is good management—and a basis for a healthy workplace culture. Syntrio’s updated Managing Workplace Health and Safety training covers the following topics:

  • OSHA general health and safety regulations
  • Job hazard identification
  • Hazard controls
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Health and safety training
  • Emergency procedures
  • Facility access control
  • Workplace violence
  • Accident investigation
  • Health and safety culture
  • OSHA inspections
  • Employee health and safety rights

In the end, OSHA requires the following:

“Each site or workplace safety and health program will need to include . . . means for the training of supervisors and employees to develop the needed skills and knowledge to perform their work in a safe and healthful manner.” (our emphasis added)

As an agent of their employer, it is the individual manager who generally is expected to assume these responsibilities for their team to promote a workplace committed to health and safety.

Jason has worked in ethics and compliance for over twenty-five years, consulting with Fortune 500™ companies across the business ethics and compliance spectrum, including assessing and strengthening corporate values initiatives, instituting leadership engagement efforts, developing and revising codes of conduct and policies, designing and implementing related procedures, developing monitoring systems, conducting risk, culture and program assessments.

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