Workplace Safety

It doesn’t matter whether you are on a building site or in a school or in an office on the 10th floor of a multi-storey building creating a safe and secure work environment leads to a more productive environment. No matter the size or type of the business, workplace safety procedures are a necessity for all staff. Safety measures protect employees as well as equipment and business property. The bottom line is this: by avoiding or minimizing worker injuries and damage to equipment and facilities results in fewer expenses and more profit for a business.

Change is inevitable, especially when conditions can change significantly within the day-to-day operations of a work site. Where there is change, the need to continually monitor conditions is paramount in reducing risk.

Undertaking a JSA (Job Safety Analysis) prompts those involved in the work task  or activity to consider their work environment carefully. They need to assess the risks of the job prior to starting any work. A JSA inspection should be completed prior to commencing works on site and upon arrival to the site each day.  The main aim is to identify site-specific hazards that weren’t present the day before.

Hazard Identification

Identifying workplace safety issues is the first step in protecting employees. There are many common work safety concerns. They include ergonomics, presence of hazardous chemicals, mechanical problems, noise pollution, restricted visibility, dangers of falling and weather-related hazards. Issues with non-ergonomic equipment may cause human health problems, including sore backs and carpal tunnel syndrome. Chemicals can explode, causing burns, or pose the danger of poisoning. Mechanical safety issues can occur related to the operation of any machine in the workplace. Noise and visibility issues can compromise an employee’s hearing and sight. Falls resulting from poor housekeeping or negligence can cause serious injury and death; procedures should be in place to prevent them. Rain, snow and ice can create hazards of their own; employees need to be trained how to operate equipment safely when weather conditions are bad.

Workplace Safety Policies

Each business should have a safety policy in place, created either by management or in a joint effort between management and staff. Every employee has a role in carrying out the safety policies. A safety handbook should be created identifying safety issues and spelling out consequences of not following the appropriate safety procedures. Every employee needs to have regular up to date safety training in line with their industry. This should ensure proper on-site workplace safety procedures are strictly adhered to and implemented by individuals and teams at all times.

Safety Training

Training is necessary so that employees will know how to practice safety in the workplaces. Depending on the type of equipment used, the training may be required by a federal mandate. For example, any workplace that operates a forklift must provide training for employees for its safe operation. Training can come from outside experts hired to teach classes or employees specially trained to perform safety instruction.


Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) must be available to anyone who comes in contact with a potential work hazard. This can include hard hats, protective eyewear, earplugs, shoes, gloves and clothing. Even an office worker or courier who delivers a message or a parcel to a work area near a potential hazard must put on the appropriate PPE.


Workplace safety results in fewer accidents. This then results in fewer costs for worker’s compensation. It also means less down time for employees, and less retraining time for workers otherwise needed to replace an injured worker. It also avoids worker fears and insecurities about working on a site where accidents have occurred in the past. Worker performance is improved when workers know how to prevent injuries. It also builds greater confidence in management’s active role in protecting their safety.

For more information, visit the SafeWorks SA website

So how do you ensure workplace safety?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Assess the risks specific to the workplace. Each workplace holds its own risks and dangers. This is based on the nature of the work, so a thorough assessment of the surroundings is essential.
  2. Create safety policies and procedures that address the identified risks for the workplace.
  3. Ensure all employees receive regular and updated training. They should also have access to the company’s policies and procedures in the company safety manuals.
  4. Conduct background checks on potential employees to spot red flags that could threaten the safety of other employees.
  5. Inspect the physical space of the workplace to identify dangers. Ensure that all lighting and safety equipment remain in good working order and make the necessary repairs to the facilities immediately.
  6. Create a plan of action in case of an emergency. Identify and consider the types of emergencies that may threaten the workplace. Practice the emergency response drills with the staff at measured intervals during the year. This then ensure everyone understands the procedures.
  7. Establish a procedure for visitors in the workplace. For example restricting access without an escort, checking ID and requiring visitors to sign in and out.
  8. Establish an environment that encourages open communication. Initiate a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, violence and discrimination. This ensures all employees feel safe and free to go about their work and express their opinions.

Workplace safety isn’t an option; it’s absolutely vital. Don’t ever neglect it!

Henry Schafing:

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