Workplace Health Safety

Written by Shirley Parker
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Most advanced countries, and some third world countries under extreme duress from trading partners, have put regulations in place to protect workers from injury or sickness from chemical or biological contamination. Yet even in the United States and among its western allies, employers exist who have escaped detection or prosecution for flagrant violations of worker safety. At times, however, ignorance on the part of insufficiently trained supervisors is the main reason that minor infractions are ignored long enough to become a major hazard.

Workplace health safety applies to both able-bodied and disabled employees, and to any visitors or customers who may be on the premises. Approaches and entrances should be as safe as possible, for example, with accommodation made for wheelchairs or persons on crutches. The same applies to restrooms and any workstations where an employee may be assigned or need to get to during the course of a workday.

Restricted access areas may require special hats, goggles, gloves, gowns and masks for those persons authorized to enter, both to protect the worker and the product being manufactured or tested from contamination. All areas require appropriate ventilation and uncontaminated air circulation. No one should breathe dust-filled air or noxious fumes, nor should unprotected ears be assaulted by roaring, shrieking, or other high decibel equipment. Severe hearing loss can result from noise pollution.

Many Other Areas Need Training and Constant Supervision

Managers should be alert for any employee clowning around at the risk of his or her own or another's safety and well-being. Angry outbursts, object throwing, alcohol consumption, trash on the floor, liquid spills, damaged electrical cords, and inadequate or dirty toilet facilities are all areas that can cause a company grief. Other items of workplace health safety may include heat or cold stress, poor lighting, gates, swinging doors, escalators and elevators, glass that isn't shatterproof, and harassment by coworkers. Training materials and assistance are readily available from state and federal departments such as OSHA and Cal-OSHA.

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