Safety in the workplace is of utmost importance. Employers must take measures to ensure that their workers are safe from any potential hazards that may arise. This includes identifying and addressing existing hazards and taking interim measures to reduce worker risk. Additionally, preventive and corrective maintenance processes can be implemented to control these hazards, and hazard tracking procedures should be established to document and evaluate the correction of hazards. By taking the necessary steps, employers can help to create a safe working environment for their employees.
When a hazard is recognized, the preferred correction or control cannot always be accomplished immediately. However, in virtually all situations, interim measures can be taken to eliminate or reduce worker risk. These can range from taping down wires that pose a tripping hazard to shutting down an operation temporarily.
The importance of taking these interim protective actions cannot be overemphasized. There is no way to predict when a hazard will cause severe harm and no justification for exposing workers unnecessarily to risk.
By the way, OSHA believes there is always some interim measure that can temporarily abate a hazard.
Maintenance Strategies to Control Hazards
There are two general types of maintenance processes needed to control hazards, preventive and corrective:
- Preventive maintenance to make sure equipment and machinery operate safely and smoothly. This program is proactive because it helps to prevent equipment failure and injuries.
- Corrective maintenance to make sure equipment and machinery gets back into safe operation quickly. This program is reactive because it is accomplished only after equipment has failed or someone has been injured.
Examples Of Interim Control Measures
- Move the hazard away from workers or the public.
- Post warning signs to alert people of potential hazards.
- Reduce employee exposure to hazardous conditions by rotating jobs and/or having workers wear protective gear.
- Provide additional training on proper safety procedures for all involved personnel.
- Make sure that machinery and equipment are adequately guarded and maintained.
- Ensure that all workers follow the established safety protocols.
- Install temporary barriers to restrict access to hazardous areas.
- Provide additional lighting or improved visibility of work areas, if needed.
Hazard Tracking Procedures
An essential part of any day-to-day safety and health effort is the correction of hazards that occur despite your overall prevention and control program. Documenting these corrections is equally important, particularly for larger sites.
Documentation is essential because:
- It keeps management and safety staff aware of the status of long-term correction items;
- It provides a record of what occurred should the hazard reappear at a later date; and
- It provides timely and accurate information that can be supplied to an employee who reported the hazard.
Hazard tracking should begin with an initial identification of the hazard, followed by a description of the corrective measures taken. After all, corrections are made, the process should be completed by recording the date when all necessary work was done.
The tracking system may also include a log to document and evaluate employee suggestions for safety improvements. This helps to ensure that all issues are addressed in a timely and effective manner.
Finally, the tracking system should also include periodic inspections of the workplace to identify new hazards or existing ones that have not been corrected. This is an essential part of any safety program as it helps to reduce the risk of injury or illness.
Hazards in the workplace need to be identified and controlled to create a safe environment. While long-term strategies such as preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, and hazard tracking systems are needed to keep the workplace safe, interim measures should be taken immediately to reduce worker risk. These measures include moving the hazard away from workers or the public, posting warning signs, providing additional training, properly maintaining machinery and equipment, and installing temporary barriers. Taking all necessary steps to ensure worker safety is essential for creating a safe and secure work environment where employees can feel safe and productive.