Industrial work environments are certainly some of the most hazardous. Not only can they have significant impacts on their surrounding environments, but they also pose a very real and serious threat to employees.
However, industry is a vital part of the economy that helps to drive many other areas of the wider world. So it’s imperative that environmental impacts are limited, monitored and assessed, and that employees working in industrial environments are protected sufficiently while industrial activities continue.
How can employers effectively protect their workforces from the many hazards of industrial work environments?
What are the biggest threats to employees?
Industrial work environments pose several significant threats to employees. Some are commonly seen around a wide variety of workplaces and others are more specific to certain environments.
As in many industries and places of work, slips, trips and falls are common and can strike at any time. They are one of the most frequent workplace accidents and the likelihood increases in industrial environments where other hazards can cause further distractions.
Heavy industrial machinery and moving vehicles are also threats to employees, many of which can cause life-changing or even fatal injuries. These threats are more specific to industrial environments and require more specialist measures and procedures to mitigate.
Industrial environments are also subject to chemical and substance hazards more so than many other workplaces. Such materials, chemicals and substances can endanger employees through direct and indirect means, such as skin exposure or dust and fume inhalation.
How can employees be protected?
With a vast range of industrial hazards to contend with, employers and safety officers must be vigilant in assessing, evaluating and mitigating risks as far as possible.
Thorough risk assessments should be carried out and reviewed regularly to ensure that dangers and hazards are identified. Unidentified hazards are a more significant threat because they can’t be prepared for and thus all eventualities need to be considered.
From the risk assessments, policies and safety precautions must be implemented and adhered to. Safety locks, shutdown systems, restriction zones, emergency kits, spill procedures and proper safety signage are just some of the essential measures that should be present in industrial environments.
Supplying all the relevant safety supplies such as work gloves, eyewear and protective clothing is essential to ensure that employees are protected from physical hazards and to prevent injury. Ensure your safety supplies are monitored and sufficiently restocked as and when appropriate to avoid any shortages.
Employees should also be provided regularly with relevant and up-to-date training to ensure that the information is refreshed and consistently retained. Specific training for certain machinery and equipment should be given as well as more generic training to ensure that everyone is up to speed.