Industrial Safety and Occupational Health: Best Practices for Protecting Workers and the Environment

Creating and maintaining a safe worksite requires thoughtful planning and design to ensure employee, vendor, client and visitor safety. Ongoing education and training help prepare employees for potentially disastrous situations.

Developing safety management teams knowledgeable in local and federal workplace regulations helps industrial complexes remain compliant throughout the year.

Properly storing and disposing of hazardous materials allows industrial facilities to remain productive without causing harm to the environment or employees.

Designing a Safe Worksite

Before opening an industrial facility, building managers must create a healthy, secure worksite. From designating emergency exits to installing fire and carbon monoxide alarm systems, building managers should consider the best ways to design a space that protects employees from illness, injury or death.

Other factors to consider when designing a facility include lighting and sprinkler system placement, equipment layout, emergency care and safety equipment placement, hazardous material storage space and building signage.

Building managers must adhere to local, state and federal building operation procedures for employee health and security. When visiting a facility, inspection officials will ask to see building designs and blueprints, electrical, sewer and water system plans, hazardous waste management procedures and more.

Employee Safety Education and Training

Training employees to operate heavy machinery and equipment is time-consuming and costly but necessary to ensure the workplace remains harm-free. Temporarily replacing sick or injured employees with lesser-trained people can lead to slower product manufacturing and production, causing order fulfillment issues.

Employee safety education and training helps prevent on-site illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Training includes machinery operation demonstrations, building evacuation drills, safety equipment training, hazardous materials storage and cleanup, workplace violation reporting, equipment shut-down and emergency care procedures.

Unfortunately, workplace accidents and other incidents can occur at any time. Employees trained in emergency procedures can help save lives while minimizing equipment damage and preventing hazardous materials from negatively affecting the environment.

Creating a secure workplace reduces the risk of temporarily or permanently losing valuable employees. Ongoing training helps sustain employee morale and company loyalty. Maintaining accurate training records can also help keep business insurance rates low.

Safety Management Teams and Responsibilities

Comprised of building managers, floor supervisors and employees, safety management teams provide building/employee emergency training, create and update manuals, perform equipment inspections, review incident reports and maintain communication with employees with changes to procedures occur.

With an on-site team dedicated to ensuring a healthy workplace, employees will feel more comfortable and confident performing work duties, especially when working around hazardous materials and dangerous equipment or working in noisy environments and enclosed spaces.

Safety management teams should carefully review all incident reports filed by employees. These reports alert management of necessary repairs, machinery replacement, and hazardous material spills and other problems.

Teams should create a simple form that employees can fill out whenever they witness a worksite, equipment or employee safety issue.

Proper Handling and Disposal of Hazardous Materials

Any industrial facility that uses hazardous materials (fluids, solids or gases) should take the proper disposal precautions to prevent workplace injuries and to help protect the environment. Bio-hazard, chemical bi-products and waste, solvents used in manufacturing, cleaning supplies and other hazardous materials must be stored and removed to an off-site disposal facility.

Employee training for handling and storing hazardous chemicals and other items includes storage container inspections, air quality testing, spill cleanup and emergency care for employees exposed to these materials.

Keeping an industrial workplace safe requires careful thought and execution of building, employee and hazardous material disposal procedures.

Keeping manuals up-to-date, providing ongoing training and creating a workplace that encourages employees to speak up when they notice unsafe behavior or equipment and material storage issues are all ways businesses can create a better workplace for everyone.

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