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Assessing the Workplace for Health: How to Guide

Matt Luman November 2, 2017 0

Effects-of-Workplace-Harassment

A major reason for workplace injuries is failure to identify hazards. That’s because if you’re unaware of the possible hazards, you can’t implement practices and protections to prevent accidents.

The first step in creating an effective safety management system is a risk assessment. Employers are required to do everything they can to maintain a safe workplace and inform employees of the hazards they may face. Assessing the workplace is a crucial part of that process.

Hazard Assessment

Look for hazards in conditions, processes, equipment, and substances. Steps of a hazard assessment include:

  1. Identify the current and possible hazards.
  2. Analyze the risks of these hazards to determine the severity and probability.
  3. Determine the appropriate methods to eliminate, control, and mitigate the hazards.

It’s not just about identifying the workplace hazards. Another important step is assessing the health and safety knowledge of your workforce. Review accidents and incidents reports as well as employee survey results to pinpoint specific problems that need to be addressed.

Safe Workplaces

Use the data produced by the hazard assessment to draft a safety management plan. Prioritize corrective actions using the information and analysis.

When designing a safe and healthy workplace initiative, keep this checklist handy:

  1. Get management support by providing a business case or reasoning for this program.
  2. Start a healthy workplace committee that includes key decision makers.
  3. Conduct situational assessments to acquire baseline information on needs and risks.
  4. Draft a healthy workplace plan, including a vision, values, goals, and strategies while keeping in mind the key audiences and long-term sustainability.
  5. Create a program that includes objectives, program activities, evaluation, methods, resources, schedules, and responsibilities.
  6. Obtain management support for the drafted plans, presentation, and evidence.
  7. Implement the plan:
  • Communicate it to all employees
  • Build capacity
  • Launch events and interpersonal activities
  • Monitor the progress
  • Evaluate the outcome and impact
  1. Produce and discuss a report detailing the results and recommendations for improvements.

Healthy Workplaces

Promoting and maintaining healthy workplaces requires management support and employee buy in at multiple stages. Get management heads and employees involved in the process early to foster a sense of ownership and commitment. Ask for ideas and feedback.

Safety and health program activities may have four components:

  1. Health and safety awareness and education: Healthy living print materials, motivational messages on bulletin boards, newsletters, safety theme days, emails and webpages, lectures and seminars.
  2. Changing attitudes and behaviors: Sponsor special events, challenges, clubs, and contests that develop and strengthen skills and processes.
  3. Establish and maintain a healthy environment: Create a culture that encourages safe work practices and healthy choices.
  4. Build capacity: Evaluate and promote the success of programs using workplace inventories, questionnaires and surveys, interviews, focus groups, and employee recognition and incentives. Ask for suggestions for ways to improve the programs.

Events and Activities

Topics that go beyond workplace hazards include tobacco use, substance abuse, nutrition, physical activity, and stress management. Some ideas include:

  • Bike to work week
  • Walking clubs
  • Cigarette quitting programs
  • Fruit and vegetable challenge
  • Healthy foods at company events
  • Health fairs
  • Flexible work hours for healthy lifestyles
  • Gym membership discounts
  • Walking trails
  • Healthy vending machines
  • Restricted smoking areas

Training

There must be a training component to any workplace health and safety program. You must give employees the knowledge and the skills to implement the plan initiatives and activities.

Hazard and health assessments should be used to create a relevant training program that educates employees about the hazards, the methods to avoid hazards, safe practices, protective equipment, and emergency response. Training should occur with new hires, as refreshers, and when new processes, equipment, or hazards are introduced.

It’s not hard to come up with persuasive reasons for a comprehensive, sustained health and safety program. Fewer accidents mean a more efficient workplace, more productive workers, and lower costs. But a happy and healthy environment is beneficial for the bottom line too. Healthier employees are better at their jobs and better able to meet and exceed goals.

The smart way to incorporate environmental health and safety solutions into your workplace is with online courses from 360training.com. A complete range of training programs help your team be proactive about their safety at work. Enroll now!

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