All workplaces should be safe and not hazardous to the worker’s health and safety but unfortunately that is not always the case. Employers and employees have the responsibility to make sure the workplace is a safe environment and the hazards should be controlled immediately.

As a business owner, the responsibility lies on your shoulders and you should conduct “risk assessment” to evaluate and prioritize the hazards. The best way to deal with occupational hazards is to deal with them before they become occupational accidents.  Here are some things you can do to assess the risks:

  • Observe the workplace and identify potential hazards. Most of them are regulated by federal and state laws, but  safthere are some that might have slipped through.
  •  Have a safety plan, specific to the physical space of the business. Where are the exits, where is the ventilation, what   are the procedures for shut-offs?
  •  Have those safety measures clearly posted where workers can see them.
  •  Stress the importance of health and safety in the workplace.
  •  Have an open door policy in regards to health and safety issues.
  •  Survey your employees or co-workers about their health and safety concerns.
  •   Examine the sickness figures. Is a pattern emerging?

After you’ve identifies the safety issues, there are five ways to deal with occupational hazards:

  • Eliminate the hazard by removing it completely. This is by far the most effective method of control but it is not always applicable. If the work process is still in its development stages it is easier to correct.
  • Substitution – Replacing one process with another to eliminate the risk. Changing chemicals to less harmful ones, replacing machines, adding air-condition units etc. Substitution also means changing work processes and equipment to do the job in a less harmful manner.
  •  Engineering control –Solving the problem in an engineering way like adding protective enclosures to the machine to prevent contact with dangerous moving parts. Controlling the dust by keeping a clean work environment and preventing it from spreading in the air is another form of engineering control.  Adding safety measures as automatic shut offs, interlocking guards or operating the machine by remote control are also good examples.
  • Administrative control – Limiting access to a certain area for only a handful of employees or limiting the number of hours workers can be in that place. Changing work schedules to allow more rest or shorter shifts.
  • Personal Ssfety equipment – providing your workers with protective gear to protect their eyes, ears and respiration.  Adding protective clothing or footwear also falls into this category.

Some methods are more efficient than others, but it is a fact that a combination of the methods works the best. Employees are entitled to have a safe and healthy work environment that enables him/her to perform his/her work without risking their health or their lives.

About the Author:

Patrick Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges.   When not working, Patrick enjoys blogging about career and business. Patrick is also a photography enthusiast and is currently running a photography studio in the Philippines.


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