Safety in the workplace is non-negotiable, regardless of the size of the workplace or the population of the workforce. For this reason, Safe Work Australia developed the Model WHS Act in 2011 to secure the health and safety of workers in workplaces. This act requires that duty holders (employers, owners or operators) take deliberate steps to eliminate or minimise risks in the workplace. Action should commence with a risk assessment to detect any hazards. This should be followed up with the design of the work environment in such a way that hazards are removed so the place can be as safe as possible.
Safe work environment
For a work environment to be safe, duty holders must ensure, among other things, that:
- There is enough space for access and safe movement.
- Floors and corridors are non-slippery and free of obstructions and trailing cables.
- Good lighting is provided in the workplace.
- A hygienic workplace is provided.
Safe movement around the premises
There must be safe passage for pedestrians and vehicles to move around the premises. And, where necessary, separate routes should be created. It is important to limit the speed of vehicles moving around the workplace to avoid preventable accidents. Although speed limits are widely used to prevent vehicles from moving too fast, they may be difficult to enforce.
Fixed features such as speed humps do a better job of controlling the speed of vehicles moving around a traffic system. They can slow vehicles down to about 24 kilometres per hour. Warning signs notifying motorists they are approaching speed humps should be clearly displayed. These signs should be placed far enough from the humps to enable drivers to reduce their speed safely before approaching the humps. The humps themselves should be clearly marked to ensure they are highly visible. Special routes should be created for emergency vehicles such as ambulances transporting spinal injury patients to allow them to avoid going over the hump.
Repeated impact of heavy-duty vehicles such as industrial lift trucks can present a peculiar challenge to the use of speed humps. The material used to manufacture the humps must be of sufficiently high density to withstand this impact. Fortunately, there are now speed bump products manufactured from premium-grade, high-density recycled rubber crumb. The humps are highly durable, heavy-duty products designed to withstand the weight of even the heaviest vehicle. They also come with high-visibility yellow striping to make it easy for drivers to see them from afar.
Non-slippery and obstruction-free floors
It is also essential that employers and other duty holders take necessary steps to reduce slip and fall accidents in the workplace. Application of anti-trip treatment to the floor can prevent lawsuits and claims that would arise if fall or slip injuries occur. Anti-slip treatment is a system that prevents a smooth floor area from becoming a hazard, especially when wet.
Another cause of trip hazard commonly seen in factories, worksites and other public events is the presence of trailing cables on the floor. The use of a floor cable protector is a safe solution to this trip hazard. The protectors not only prevent trailing cables from becoming a trip hazard. They also prevent damage to the loose cables and hoses.
Provision of good lighting
A good level of lighting is a necessity at workstations to ensure that workers can operate safely. Natural light is suitable where possible, but glare should be avoided. All corridors and stairs should be well lit, and provision should be made for emergency lighting in case there is a power failure.
Provision of a hygienic environment is paramount to ensure that the health and safety of workers is maintained. Clean toilets equipped with wash hand basins fitted with running water taps should be provided. Soap and towel or other methods suitable for drying should also be made available.
In conclusion, introduction of appropriate safety procedures in the workplace will create a safe environment and protect workers and other persons from harm.