Whether you’re the business owner or an employee, workplace safety is no doubt in the back of your mind at all times. Occasionally, though, that thought creeps into your consciousness more pressingly when you see something you consider unsafe or somebody doing something they shouldn’t be.
To be able to spot these dangers and remove them before they become an issue, you need to know what to look for, what the repercussions could be, and how to handle the dangers once you’ve spotted them.
What Am I Looking Out For?
There are both physical and ethical ways that your workplace might need to be improved. If your office has a kitchen, ensuring your properly fitted appliances are kept clean and tidy is a task that should be kept on top of every day. Around the office, trailing wires should be avoided, air conditioning or heating, depending on your climate, should work efficiently, and security must be strong.
Making sure your office has a good lock and alarm system as well as CCTV, if possible, will prevent security breaches. Security is not just for when the office is empty, but when it is occupied too.
Ethically, your staff or your colleagues’ mental health should also be at the forefront of the employer’s considerations. Promoting ways for staff to be healthy in the office, such as walking meetings and regular screen breaks, is also a good step to take to create a safe and positive space.
If staff is miserable or stressed, this is a sign that perhaps not enough is being done on the mental and ethical side of office safety.
Your Rights as a Worker
As a worker, you have the right to a safe place to work and to not be at risk of suffering accidents. Aston Knight Solicitors, a specialist in dealing with workplace injuries, list the following as your rights for if you are injured at work:
- Right to claim for compensation
- Right to take time off to recover
- Right to lighter duties or reduced hours, if needed, when you return
- Right to claim for lost income
Injuries at work are just one of the ways you are protected by your rights as a worker. If you are an employer, they are a reminder that it is your responsibility to give workers a safe place to carry out their duties, and that you can be punished if accidents are due to negligence of this fact.
In 2020, it is, of course, also important to know about safe workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses should be putting together COVID-19 plans complete with risk assessments and a strategy for returning to work as usual once possible. Whatever your national or state guidance, workers should expect their employers to be going above and beyond at this time.
What to Do If I See Something
If you, as a worker, see something you believe could result in a dangerous scenario, it should be reported immediately. Noticing something and failing to report it could result in you being partially liable should it result in an accident or incident. Your employer is unlikely to have allowed the unsafe scenario to arise intentionally – it is probably accidental negligence – so speak to them honestly about it to get it sorted swiftly.
In the USA, you can report the employer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if they are failing to take action on the scenario or object you consider unsafe. You can also refuse to work under unsafe conditions, and it is the morally correct course to take to inform your colleagues, too, so that they are not endangering themselves. Uniting will help put pressure on a non-compliant manager to take the necessary action.
If, on the other hand, you are an employer, it is critical you do something about it as soon as possible. If you are unable to yourself, it is worth consulting a health and safety professional to ensure you are taking the correct course of action.
Safety in the workplace is the bread and butter of business. When a problem arises, steps should be taken immediately, whether that is a worker reporting an issue or an employer remedying it.
It’s essential that you know the law and you know your rights, which could depend on your federal state and field of work, so familiarizing yourself with the relevant legislation is a good place to start. Once you know the rules and your rights, being vigilant is the cornerstone of keeping a safe workplace. Finally, swift action must be taken.