The Business Benefits of Workplace Safety
Take a proactive approach to minimize company risk
One of the most overlooked items that every dental laboratory needs to be mindful of is workplace safety. With so many other activities taking place, many companies tend to forget the importance of making sure that the work environment is compliant with OSHA. This involves maintaining a safe workplace, including keeping the equipment well maintained, keeping the floors free of any hazardous items, and ensuring that employees are working in a safe manner to avoid injuries.
The reason why it is so critical to pay close attention to workplace safety is because unsafe work environments lead to injuries, ultimately leading to a higher number of worker's compensation claims. Regardless of which state you operate in, workplace safety should always take priority because this is highly preventable if the correct protocols are followed. All dental laboratories must maintain OSHA 300 safety logs and record any workplace injuries that occur. It is recommended that either the human resources department or a general safety department (if there is a separate safety team) develop a safety training program based on the type of business. Dental laboratories would want to keep track of the equipment being used, eye wash areas, and any chemicals.
There are several OSHA training programs that the laboratory can implement, including those on hand tool safety, electrical safety, personal protective equipment, hazardous materials, and other relevant topics. The purpose of these safety training programs is to educate employees about the correct approaches to take when working and being aware of their surroundings. Most employers do not focus enough on the importance of safety until an incident occurs. Using a preventive approach and taking action before an accident happens are key to maintaining a safe work environment.
Pre-task planning is another approach laboratories can take. Pre-task planning is breaking down a job into each of its tasks and noting the hazards or obstacles that could interfere with completing each task safely and efficiently. The main goal here is to determine the precautionary steps needed to avoid hazards and subsequent injuries. In essence, there are three main items to identify for successful pre-task planning: the task(s) that need to be completed each day, the potential hazards that might be involved in the completion of the tasks, and the corrective measures that need to be put into place to help avoid the identified hazards.
Besides injuries and possible mortality depending on the nature of the safety issue, there is another reason to be mindful of workplace safety. The financial loss resulting in a worker's compensation claim, as well as lost productivity, is something to seriously consider. There are far too many injuries that occur in the workplace simply because of either unstructured safety protocols or employees not paying attention when completing their tasks. For example, objects on the floor blocking a fire exit may not attract too much attention until there is a fire emergency. There are simple fixes for many such problems, but if no one is paying attention, injuries can occur unnecessarily. If an employee is working with a machine that can easily cause an injury, then having a safety program in place that teaches the correct way to use that equipment, as well as being aware and mindful of the risks if they do not follow directions, is recommended.
The success or failure of a well-run safety program depends on both the employer and the employees since everyone is working in the same environment. It goes back to the basics: If you see something, say something; and make sure that the safety issue is resolved immediately. There is no room for error, as it only takes a split second for an injury to occur. With proper planning and following correct safety procedures, everyone will benefit from a safe and hazard-free workplace.
About the Author
Brian Forman is a Human Resources Generalist with Atelier 4 in Long Island City, New York.