Participating in workplace safety procedures is critical should the unthinkable happen. Every year thousands of people are injured due to work-related accidents, many which were preventable. The financial cost of these accidents for the victims and their employers is in the millions as many of the incidents can have long-term effects on an employee. To be able to participate in your workplace’s safety procedures you need to be able identify hazards and risks, know how to minimize the risk of unsafe work situations and who to report hazards at work.

Step 1.

Identify hazards and assess risks. A hazard is something that has the potential to harm others and jeopardize their health and/or safety. Learn what workplace hazards may be at your place of employment; they can include not having clear access to a fire extinguisher, not being provided the means to properly wash your hands, exposure to electricity, working with machinery, loud noises, biological or chemical hazards, or walking surfaces having elements others could trip over.

Once you’ve identified the hazard, its risk should be evaluated. The examination of this should include the likeliness of someone getting injured and the consequences of that injury.

Step 2.

Follow procedures and strategies for risk control. When a hazard has been identified, controls must be set into place to eliminate or reduce the risk’s potential to cause harm. To eliminate a risk it should be completely removed from the environment. To minimize it, however, the agent causing a risk should be substituted for a safer option or altered so it becomes safer. Backup controls should also be in place to provide those around a risk with information. Backup controls include placing warning signs, teaching employees how to be safe at work, providing safety checklists, and providing and mandating the use of protective safety equipment.

Step 3.

Know your place of work’s policies and procedures regarding safety. Know the policies in place where you work so you know what management considers a hazard or risk. Policies may include rules about smoking in or around the facility, drug and alcohol use, and rules regarding health and safety. Such policies should be available at your workplace to everyone, and should include an employee needs to report any risks or hazards they see.

Along with these policies should be workplace procedures in the event of an emergency situation. The safety procedures should outline step-by-step instructions about what to do if there are events such as a fire, bomb threat, explosion, chemical spill, gas leak, a dangerous individual. Evacuation plans should also be described in detail so employees know when they are to evacuate, the location of exits and who to report to after an evacuation.