Hazard Prevention & Control
Preventing hazards and controlling ones that already exist are sometimes grueling tasks. Once you have identified your existing and potential hazards, systems need to be implemented that can prevent or control those hazards. Whenever possible, hazards should be eliminated. Sometimes this can be done through substitution of a less toxic material or engineering controls. When you cannot eliminate hazards, systems should be established to control them.
Here are some actions to consider:
- Set up safe work procedures based on an analysis of the hazards in your workplace and ensure that employees understand and follow them. It is a good idea to involve employees in the analysis that results in those procedures.
- Be ready to enforce the rules for safe work procedures. Ask your employees to help establish a disciplinary system that will be fair and understood by everyone.
- Where necessary, ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is used and that your employees know why they need it, how to use it and how to maintain it.
- Provide regular equipment maintenance to prevent breakdowns that can create hazards. Ensure that preventive and regular maintenance are tracked to completion.
- Plan for emergencies, including fire and natural disasters. Conduct frequent drills to ensure that all employees know what to do under stressful conditions.
- Develop a medical program that fits your worksite. Involve nearby doctors and emergency facilities by inviting them to visit your workplace and help you plan the best way to avoid injuries and illness during emergency situations.
- Ensure the availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of employee health. This does not mean that you must provide health care, but you must be prepared to deal with medical emergencies or health problems connected to your workplace
To fulfill the above recommendations, consider the following:
- Develop an emergency medical procedure to handle injuries, transport ill or injured workers to health care facilities and notify medical facilities. Posting emergency numbers is also a good idea.
- Survey the medical facilities near your place of business and make arrangements for them to handle routine and emergency cases. Cooperative agreements may be possible with nearby larger workplaces that have on-site medical personnel and/or facilities.
- Ensure that your procedure for reporting injuries and illnesses is understood by all employees.
- Perform routine walk-throughs of the worksite to identify hazards and to track identified hazards until they are corrected.
- If your business is remote from medical facilities, you must ensure that adequately trained personnel are available to render first aid. First-aid supplies must be available for emergency use. Arrangements for this training can be made through your local Red Cross office, your insurance carrier, your local safety council and other organizations.
- Check battery charging stations, maintenance operations, laboratories, heating and ventilating operations and any corrosive materials areas to make sure that eye-wash facilities and showers are operational.
- Consider retaining a local doctor or an occupational health nurse on a part-time or as-needed basis for advice on medical and first-aid planning.
Hazards of all types can severely affect your business in many ways. Learning how to prevent and control them is the key to your company’s success.