Occupational Health and Safety: The Basics

by Marie Rodriguez

Occupational health and safety play a vital role in the workplace. Many would think it sounds like a topic only managers or HR people care about, but it’s not. You are being put at risk for injury or illness on the job every day, and there are many things you can do to take care of yourself.

So, it’s only essential to understand the basics of keeping yourself safe at work. What is occupational health and safety, and what practices should you follow on the job?

Occupational Health and Safety: The Basics 3


Occupational Health and Safety

The term occupational health and safety has many specific meanings to different people. However, it generally focuses on taking care of yourself while you are at work.

It’s a broad topic that is constantly changing with technology and social trends. But the basics primarily cover your physical, mental, social, and financial well-being. Here are some practices that you can follow on the job.

General Safety Rules

A clear and concise safety handbook is the best way to show what practices are acceptable at your job. You might think it’s tedious, but you need to be aware of the most common procedures that promote safety.

Most of these should seem obvious: use equipment as directed, don’t use any illegal substances on the job, and apply first aid when necessary.

But there are many little things you might not think about, like taking breaks and using the restroom. Most importantly, follow all specific rules and directions given to you by your supervisor. It is usually the best practice we can recommend, as it helps you establish a good track record with your employer and stay in their good graces.

Protective Equipment

One easy way to stay safe is wearing protective equipment (PPE) each time you work. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with chemicals, heavy machinery, or even cleaning up something dangerous; always ensure you have your PPE.

Proper safety equipment like hard hats, goggles, fire-resistant clothing, and gloves are just a few of the most common things you should have. Don’t forget ear protection if you work around loud noises all day.

Each place of work is different, so always review the information given to you by your supervisor. It’s also essential that your PPE fits you, so take measurements and make sure you have the right equipment before starting to work.

Routine Inspections

It would help if you always remembered to inspect your surroundings regularly. Before entering or leaving work areas, you should check that everything is properly maintained and that all safety equipment is present and in working order.

There should be no point in assuming everything is fine with your surroundings. The last thing you want is to get injured because of faulty equipment or dangerous chemicals left out in the open.

Emergency Procedures

Every workplace should have an emergency procedure in place, including you. That is to ensure that everyone knows what to do should there be a severe accident where people are injured or killed.

Everyone must follow these procedures precisely without question because lives can depend on them. Every person working in your facility deserves to go home safely at the end of a shift.

Material Disposal

One of the essential parts of staying safe on the job is knowing how to get rid of any material that could be dangerous. You are responsible for knowing what you can dispose of waste in regular trash bins, which chemicals require particular disposal, and even what kind of animals should not come into contact with your workplace.

Knowing where to dispose of sharp objects or anything dangerous is also important. In such cases, you should always ask yourself, “Would I want this anywhere near me?” You shouldn’t allow it in your workplace if the answer is no.

Social Considerations

Last but not least, make sure you know how to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. For example, you must know what language and behavior are acceptable at work. In this case, the best thing to do is voice your concern politely and formally to the person responsible for your workplace.

There are so many dangerous working conditions that it’s sometimes difficult to know what is necessary. Anyone on any job should follow the above safety precautions, no matter how small or large it might be.

Most importantly, if you don’t feel safe in your workplace, you should make sure you know what to do.

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