Eight ways employers can ensure workplace safety

Workplaces have evolved the past few years - staying up-to-date remains paramount

Eight ways employers can ensure workplace safety

For employers, ensuring workplace safety should be front and center as more and more workers head back to the workplace.

The world has gone through a lot of changes the past few years, and how employers should ensure workplace safety may have gone through an evolution. Still, employers should aim for employees to be able to come into a secure workplace and leave the same unharmed.

To help you out, here are some ways to ensure workplace safety:

1, Be compliant with workplace safety laws

Workplaces are governed by rules. Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, employers have a responsibility to ensure safety in the workplace. But with the changes in the world, legislation around workplace health and safety are also changing.

Manitoba, for example, recently launched a legislated five-year review of the Workplace Safety and Health Act and its three associated regulations. The review will focus on strong protections that meet the needs of modern workplaces, improving consistency and ensuring requirements are clear and reasonable.

“Reviewing our safety laws every five years ensures they remain current, comprehensive and effective in preventing occupational injuries and illnesses, particularly as the nature of work changes,” said Reg Helwer, minister of labour, consumer protection and government services.

It is, therefore, crucial for employers to stay up-to-date with legislations around workplace safety, and abide by them.

2, Develop health and safety programs together with employees

Employees should be involved in plotting workplace health and safety programs. This is crucial in creating a culture of safety in the work environment. The campaign for workplace safety does not rest solely on the shoulders of employers, Suzana Prpic, senior manager, prevention and field services, WorkSafeBC, previously told Canadian Occupational Safety (COS).

As she put it: “Measures need to be communicated to all workers and workers need to be engaged in that discussion, so that measures can be updated as required. That's working together to reduce the risk of transmission in any workplace.”

She added: “Employers need to maintain the fundamental measures, and really engage their workers in discussions relating to communicable disease prevention.”

Having a safety committee or health and safety representatives will also be helpful.

3, Be aware and identify the hazards in the workplace

There are numerous hazards in the workplace, and some worksites may have more than others. Identifying these hazards is crucial for employers to identify ways to ensure workplace safety.

And as it is, there is a lot of data available to help in this regard. Sifting through previous incident reports, safety manuals for machines, minutes from safety meetings, and others will help employers have a clearer picture of what hazards there are in the workplace.

4, Ensure that employees have information, training and supervision to do their jobs safely

Employers must provide adequate safety training for employees to understand the various hazards related to their job. This must go hand-in-hand with providing them with the tools they need to safeguard against those hazards.

Previously, WorkSafeBC released a guidebook to help employers prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace. By having these types of information, employees can do their work in a much safer fashion.

Having a supervisor overseeing the work and reminding workers to ensure it’s done safely adds another layer of protection.

5, Allow an occupational health expert to survey your work area and make safety recommendations

As much as employers try to ensure that everything in the workplace is A-okay in terms of safety, there will always be issues they will miss.

Allowing occupational health and safety experts to check up on your workplace will only be beneficial. This will help you identify hazards that you might have missed and plot out additional safety programs to make your workplace safer.

6, Ensure best practices are being followed in every stage and area of work

Previously, a coroner’s inquest jury in Ontario that looked into the death of a Sudbury dump truck driver five years ago has recommended “best practice” protocols for truck drivers who get out of their vehicles to check their vehicles.

Best practice protocols like this ensure that workers do their work in a way that prevents injury and illness.

7, Reduce workplace stress

There are numerous possible sources of workplace stress. Workload, work shift, conflict between worker and co-worker, conflict between worker and supervisor, exposure to unpleasant conditions, etc. Whatever the cause of stress may be, it can have ill effects on workers’ health.

This can lead to headaches, body pains, forgetfulness, anxiety, depression, etc. All these can be harmful to any work environment, and can cause safety concerns, especially if workers operate tools and machines.

Employers can reduce workplace stress by targeting the source. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) cites these examples: If the workplace is too loud, employers should implement control measures to deal with the noise where possible. If workers are experiencing pain from repetitive strain, employers can re-design workstations to reduce repetitive and strenuous movements.

8, Encourage employees to take regular breaks

Work breaks allow workers recovery opportunities that foster employee well-being and can even help with performance, according to a report out of Simon Fraser University.

“To maintain or improve well-being and performance, employees need work breaks to recover from work,” says researcher Zhanna Lyubykh, assistant professor of management and organization studies at the Beedie School of Business, and one of the authors of the “Role of work breaks in well-being and performance: A systematic review and future research agenda” report, based on a systematic review of 83 studies.

What are the benefits of a safe and healthy workplace in your business?

A safe and healthy workplace is beneficial both to workers and employers.

This allows workers to do their job without worrying about getting injured in the process. If they feel safe, workers can do their jobs better.

Similarly, if workers are safe, employers have one less thing to worry about in their day-to-day operation.