It is crucial that everyone present at a workplace is properly protected from the variety of risks and hazards that are present. This guide discusses how best to protect employees on site.
You can read the full article or jump ahead to a relevant section:
- Keeping employees safe at work: What do I need to know?
- Employees on site: Travelling through busy facilities
- First aid for employees: Injuries and accidents
1. Keeping employees safe at work | What do I need to know?
There are many things that need protecting in busy industrial workplaces, from machinery and equipment to the building itself. However, the most important asset to any company is its workforce. Protecting people is the highest priority for an employer and there are lots of ways to do this.
Employers' obligations to their staff
Employers are legally obliged to protect their employees and keep them reasonably comfortable in their workplace. This was outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970, which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as part of the U.S. Department of Labor.
How can employers protect their workers?
OSHA provides guidance on procedures, methods and provisions that employers can make or follow to ensure compliance with U.S. labor and workplace regulations. This includes:
- Performing risk assessments
- Making necessary changes to improve safety
- Changing routines/procedures to better protect staff
- Providing specific tools and equipment
- Providing additional training around safety
- Reporting any accidents or near misses that occur on site
Providing comfortable workplace conditions
One of the very basic things employers can do to ensure they protect their workers’ welfare is to create comfortable conditions in which to work. Considerations should include:
- A comfortable working temperature inside buildings
- Effective ventilation throughout workspaces or a supply of clean, fresh air
- Safe heating systems providing a stable temperature and no noxious fumes
- Spacious workstations with enough room to complete duties
- Proper seating where necessary
Cleaning, hygiene and welfare facilities
Employers are required to provide adequate cleaning and hygiene facilities for workers, so they can work, eat and rest in comfort without worrying about the spread of germs or bacteria.
Ensuring safe movement around busy facilities
At workplaces that use vehicles or machinery in daily operations, such as industrial facilities, factories and warehouses, employers should ensure that workers can travel through the site without risk of harm.
First aid facilities
While employers should do everything they can to ensure no harm or injury comes to their employees, incidents cannot always be controlled or prevented. In the event of an accident, employers should provide the necessary first aid facilities to properly treat employees.
Jump to: 3. First aid for employees | Injuries and accidents
As a leading UK manufacturer, A-SAFE understands the various hazards that are present at busy industrial sites worldwide, as well as the need for effective employee protection. Our world-class polymer safety barriers, bollards and systems are an ideal way of ensuring your workforce is safe. Speak to a member of our team to learn more.
2. Employees on site: Travelling through busy facilities
As well as employers providing measures to ensure safe working, it’s also important the employees can move around the work premises without fear of accidents or injury. Employers must provide:
- Safe floors and surfaces
- Safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles
- Fire doors and safety gates
Safe floors and surfaces
Floors and ground surfaces should be level and even, without any potential trip hazards such as broken floorboards, loose paving stones or holes. It is also important that floors and surfaces are dry and not slippery. In workplaces where this can’t be prevented, adequate clothing – such as shoes with a substantial tread – should be worn to minimize the risk of slipping or falling.
Safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles
This can apply to communal areas, such as parking lots, where people and vehicles often move in proximity, but it also applies to industrial workplaces where there are high volumes of site vehicles such as:
- Forklift trucks
- Multi-directional trucks
- Side loaders
- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
- Picking and stacking machines
- Pallet, hand and platform trucks
- Scissor lifts
Where these types of vehicles operate alongside workers, it is important to ensure that people are protected from potential vehicle impacts. The two best safety measures to implement are:
Robust traffic barrier systems should be installed throughout sites with lots of vehicles in order to segregate pedestrians from potential hazards and minimize the chance they are hit. Traffic barriers can also help to create clear vehicle routes through a facility, so drivers can navigate busy warehouses and factories easily, without encountering people.
Learn more: Traffic barriers
Pedestrian barriers work in a similar way to traffic barriers, by providing necessary protection for workers from lighter hand-operated equipment, such as pallet trucks. Many pedestrian barriers are used to define clear walkways through busy facilities, providing a safe zone in which workers can move freely without the risk of coming to harm. Pedestrian barriers usually come with some form of handrail support to ensure people don’t trip or fall over the barrier while moving through the facility.
Learn more: Pedestrian barriers
Handrails and ramps
As previously mentioned, handrails are an important form of support for people as they travel along walkways, but also as they climb stairways or move along high or dangerous access routes.
Ramps are crucial for making sites accessible. Disabled or injured workers who are well enough to come to work and perform their duties should be provided with relevant measures to allow them to access their workplace easily.
Fire doors and safety gates
Doors and gates are important for ensuring that pedestrians are protected from hazards on the shop floor. They prohibit or control access to dangerous, controlled, or busy areas of a facility.
Fire doors are an important part of an effective fire safety strategy as they can prevent smoke and fire from spreading throughout a site.
Gates can be a crucial part of a pedestrian segregation and traffic management plan in busy industrial facilities. Swing or pull gates encourage pedestrians to pause before crossing a busy vehicle route, while slide gates create enclosed access for frequent crossing over a long period. A configuration of different types of gates can provide a variety of safe access solutions.
Learn more: Pedestrian gates
With effective safety systems in place across busy industrial facilities, it’s easier to minimize risk and shield workers from hazards relating to site vehicles. A-SAFE polymer safety barriers provide low-maintenance protection for pedestrians and help to manage the flow of traffic through your facility. Speak to a member of our team for advice and support on creating a substantial traffic management and pedestrian segregation plan.
3. First aid for employees | Injuries and accidents
If employees are injured or fall ill at work, employers are expected to provide adequate first aid facilities and equipment to treat their workers.
Where can I find information about workplace first aid?
These guidelines have been outlined in the OSHA's Medical and First Aid overview, which includes the standards for workplaces to follow.
What first aid facilities should employers provide?
Employers should identify the necessary first aid requirements for potential injuries and illnesses that can occur as a result of the type of workplace their employees operate in.
OSHA has identified four essential elements for first-aid programs to be effective. They are:
- Leadership by workplace management coupled with workforce involvement
- An analysis of the risks present at the worksite
- Hazard prevention and control
- Safety and health training for all employees
It is essential that employers provide first aid for their employees in the event of accident or injury. However, effective workplace protection is the only way to minimize the chance of accidents occurring. At A-SAFE, we can help you identify and control various risks at your factory or warehouse. Speak to a member of our team to find out more.
Protecting employees | A summary
Your first responsibility as an employer is to your workforce. By ensuring they’re effectively protected from hazards – and your workplace has the relevant facilities they need to work and operate comfortably and safely – you can create a more efficient and relaxed environment. Not only will this be better for workers’ mental health, but it will also minimize the risk of accidents, injury, or prolonged periods of production downtime.
At A-SAFE, we can help you identify risk-factors within your facility and provide best-practice advice on how best to address them. Global brands such as Coca Cola, BMW, DHL and Sonoco trust A-SAFE to provide effective world-class safety systems and protection that lasts. Our flexible polymer safety barriers, bollards and racking protection are state-of-the-art, PAS 13 compliant and independently certified by TÜV Nord.