How can I ensure a safe work environment?

Q. What are some proactive strategies employers can implement to promote a safe workplace?

A. There are several proactive strategies that employers can implement regardless of the type of workplace involved.

Keep the workplace clean and clear of hazards. Equipment should be properly maintained. Train employees to use the equipment properly. When appropriate, employees should wear required personal protective equipment (PPE). Keep in mind, however, that training may be required for certain types of PPE (for example, respirators). Be sure to give employees clear work instructions, including safety instructions.

Regularly conduct fire drills, and require employees to participate by going to the designated gathering area. Hold regular safety meetings, with mandatory attendance. Get workers involved in implementing safety policies.

In an office setting, check all electrical cords and outlets for cracks or other damage. Keep computer and telephone cords away from where employees walk. Maintain carpeting and replace it when frayed. Where practical, provide employees with ergonomically designed equipment to reduce repetitive-stress injuries.

Safety committees, staffed by representatives of employees as well as employers, are excellent tools for communicating the proper safety message and for doing occasional self-audits or assessments.

OSHA also encourages employers to have—and consistently use—a disciplinary policy that addresses the failure to comply with safety instructions.