When taking on a new job, you consider the pay, benefits, work culture and potential for growth—whether it'll slow you down or fast-track your career. As time goes by, you re-evaluate these factors in light of your career trajectory. Does workplace safety ever come to mind?
More importantly, does workplace safety remain on the mind of your employer? Employers must maintain safety standards to prevent injuries and hazards from occurring in the first place. Work-related injuries harm both the employer and employee. The health and safety of workers matter. Here are seven signs your workplace isn’t safe.
1. Nonuse or Misuse of Safety Equipment
Depending on your industry, safety requirements range from donning protective clothing, earplugs and goggles to checking security camera function. Does safety equipment sit idly by as workers conduct their jobs with costly confidence? Injuries result when employees don’t know how to handle or operate safety equipment properly.
When your employer fails to comply with safety requirements, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places penalties and fines on the business.
2. Lax Training
Learning on the job comes with the territory of being a newbie in the office. Education should remain a continuous part of every career, no matter if you’re an entry-level or senior employee. Whether it’s a poor job economy or wanting to develop a new hire’s potential, employer motivation gets called into question when they drop the ball on training their employees.
Employers expect performance and miss out on productivity and positive employee work ethic when they provide insufficient training. Instead, employers gain an influx of work-related injuries and technical mistakes. Every employee must be screened for the proper experience and educated regarding the ins and outs of their job duties, especially in skilled industries, such as manufacturing, construction and technology.
Does your employer take the extra time to ensure workers have completed and understand every aspect of their training and orientation before working independently? Has the employer brought the training up to code with safety requirements?
3. Poor Lighting
Poor lighting contributes to many work-related injuries and hazards. Insufficient lighting may cause a worker to fall or trip — the fall may also happen to a client. Unfortunately, an employer may only fix the issue if they can see the bottom line.
Does the employer provide proper indoor and outdoor lighting? Do you feel safe walking to your car at night? Can you see when you go to retrieve an important file from up high in a dark storage space?
Is their enough ambient lighting to provide comfort to your eyes when working late? Eyestrain from staring at a screen all day is a common work-related hazard. Digital eyestrain affects 70 percent of American workers and contributes to blurred vision, headaches and shoulder and back pain, according to The Vision Institute, as reported by The Mission.
4. There Are Limits to Strength
Small retailers are known to focus less on safety procedure and more on assigning multiple tasks to their employees. Many workers signed on to a job having read and acknowledged that they knew their responsibilities came with repeated motions, long periods of sitting or standing, and heavy lifting. There are limits to strength, however, and repetitive tasks could lead to problems over time.
Those who lift all day are more susceptible to work-related injuries due to having less focus and feeling tired. They may feel or be encouraged to shortcut safety requirements to meet a deadline or make up for dwindling mental and physical resources. Instead of shortcutting safety practices, employers can build in the proper shortcuts by adding handles, reducing sharp edges, investing in the proper equipment to move heavy product and adjusting stations to accommodate varying weight and height.
5. Unsuitable Flooring
Is the flooring sufficient for the trade conducted? When was the last time the flooring was updated? Are the floors cleaned properly?
Damaged, uneven, slippery and greasy flooring poses hazards for tripping and falling. Also, consider loose mats or transitioning from one floor type to another. Slips occur from a loss of foot traction across the floor or in accidental contact with an object. While railing and signs help to a certain degree, employers must address these issues.
6. Failure to Display Safety or Emergency Signs
In 2016, there were 2.9 million workplace injuries recorded, according to Labor Bureau statistics. And while nonfatal, proper signage would have prevented many of these injuries. Clearly marked exits, fire alarms and electrical rooms keep employees healthy and safe. These boost safety consciousness and spread communication efficiently in times of emergency or crisis.
Are the signs clearly marked and in large letters? Are those with disabilities accommodated and know what actions they need to take during an emergency?
7. Disability Accommodations Lacking or Not Provided
Do you feel you have everything you need to do your job reasonably? If your eyesight or hearing is challenged, do you need particular equipment to enlarge or read the text? Does your workstation accommodate your needs? Can you safely enter and exit the building, as well as move unhindered throughout the workplace?
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to all workers to enable them to do their jobs. When an employer fails to meet these needs and requirements, your ability to do your job suffers, and your risk of work-related injury increases.
Employers sometimes fail to address safety hazards and move beyond basic compliance, pushing this need further down the to-do list until hazards cause injuries. Many work-related injuries and hazards occur due to the misuse of safety equipment, lax training, poor lighting, overworked employees, unsuitable flooring, improper signage and lack of disability accommodations.
Take heed of these seven signs, and address any concerns with your employer. Safety consciousness affects workplace happiness, productivity and health, so be sure you feel secure at your job in order to put forth your best effort.