Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Workplace Safety

What Is Workplace Safety

Workplace safety is about preventing injury and illness to employees and volunteers in the workplace. Therefore, it's about protecting the nonprofit's most valuable asset: its workers. By protecting the employees' and volunteers' well-being, the nonprofit reduces the amount of money paid out in health insurance benefits, workers' compensation benefits and the cost of wages for temporary help. Also factor in saving the cost of lost-work hours (days away from work or restricted hours or job transfer), time spent in orienting temporary help, and the programs and services that may suffer due to fewer service providers, stress on those providers who are picking up the absent workers' share or, worse case, having to suspend or shut down a program due to lack or providers.
Addressing Safety and Health Hazards in the Workplace

To make the workplace safer, the organization has to acknowledge which potential health and safety hazards are present. Or determine where and what and how a worker is likely to become injured or ill. It starts with analyzing individual workstations and program areas for hazards — the potential for harm — be it a frayed electrical cord, repetitive motion, toxic chemicals, mold, lead paint or lifting heavy objects.
Depending on the nature of the nonprofit's mission and programs, senior management may have to help workers manage specific hazards associated with their tasks:

chemical (toxic, flammable, corrosive, explosive)
electrical (shock/short circuit, fire, static, loss of power)
ergonomics (strain, human error)
excavation (collapse)
explosion (chemical reaction, over pressurization)
fall (condition results in slip/trip from heights or on walking surfaces — poor housekeeping, uneven surfaces, exposed ledges)
fire/heat (burns to skin and other organs)
mechanical (vibration, chaffing, material fatigue, failure, body part exposed to damage)
noise (hearing damage, inability to communicate, stress)
radiation (X-rays, microwave ovens, microwave towers for radio or TV stations or wireless technology)
struck by (falling objects and projectiles injure body)
struck against (injury to body part when action causes contact with a surface, as when screwdriver slips)
temperature extreme (heat stress, exhaustion, hypothermia)
visibility (lack of lighting or obstructed vision that results in error or injury)
weather phenomena (snow, rain, wind, ice that increases or creates a hazard)
Workplace safety program

Any policy, procedure or training used by the organization to further the safety of paid and volunteer staff while working for the nonprofit is considered part of a workplace safety program. Workplace safety programs to reduce work-related injury and illness are concerned with:

promoting and rewarding safe practices at work
reducing injuries and illnesses at work
eliminating fatalities at work
Workplace injury and illness prevention

According to OSHA, work-related injury and illness prevention falls into three categories in order of priority: engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment controls. We have adapted this list to make it more applicable to most nonprofit organizations:

administrative controls
written procedures and safe work practices,
exposure time limitations (temperature and ergonomic hazards),
monitor use of hazardous materials,
alarms, signs and warnings,
buddy system, and

Workplace safety initiatives can be as simple as closing and locking the front door; replacing burned out lights inside and out; closing drawers before walking away from the desk or file cabinet; knowing and using proper lifting techniques; providing adjustable workstations to accommodate differences in people's stature and weight to eliminate repetitive motion, back, neck and shoulder injury; and using the proper tool for the job in an appropriate fashion. These and other basics should be universally adopted safety procedures in any workplace.

No comments:

Post a Comment