How Safe Is Your Workplace?

10 Questions to Ask

When deciding whether to accept a job, the usual considerations such as salary and location typically apply. However, few people think about workplace safety when deciding on an employer, but they should.

Workplace safety is actually one of the most important factors to consider, and if you work in an industry such as mining, construction, chemicals, pharmaceuticals or police work, you will want to ensure that your employer is being responsible about employee safety.

Employers have a responsibility to monitor your working conditions for safety hazards, and penalties may apply if the appropriate standards are not obeyed. While workplace safety requirements vary from country to country, there are basic rules and industry standards that should be followed in all situations.

"On-the-job safety is not something you can just take for granted," said P. Grimshaw of Atkar. "An employer has to be proactive in maintaining the highest standards of safety for everyone on the job site."

Here are 10 points to consider when evaluating whether your employer is committed to workplace safety.

1. Are you informed about industry and duty risks?

From the minute you show up for the interview, your employer should make you aware of the potential risks of the job. Merely mentioning the risks in an off-hand manner is not enough. Your employer should explain in detail all the risks involved. If he or she tries to downplay or hide the risks, it might be time to look for a job elsewhere.

2. Does your employer engage staff without a valid license?

Never work for an employer who is even thinking of hiring staff members without a valid license. Licenses exist not just to ensure the quality of employees' work but also to protect them and their colleagues from a safety point of view. Your employer should insist on hiring only individuals with the appropriate skills and certification levels.

3. Are employees allowed to perform new duties without prior training?

A responsible employer insists that all personnel are properly trained before being assigned new duties or responsibilities. Expecting employees to "figure things out" without proper training is unacceptable when safety risks are involved.

4. Is a safety training calendar maintained?

A responsible employer thinks it's important that employees are taught to identify hazards, manage risks and do the job safely. A safety training calendar should be adhered to and include modules such as induction training.

5. Are safety policies implemented?

There should be formal documents at the workplace that clearly state what to do in case of emergencies. These documents must be kept up to date and be accessible to employees at all times. They should also be easy to understand and within easy reach during an emergency.

6. Is high-quality safety gear provided?

Do some market research on your own to determine if the safety gear provided by your employer is of high quality. If you find the safety gear used at your workplace to be lacking, don't be afraid to speak up. It might just save someone's life.

7. Are regular safety audits carried out?

Regular safety audits make certain that safety standards are upheld and that all safety measures and equipment are kept up to date. This goes a long way toward ensuring employee safety.

8. Is "safety first" your company's motto?

All safety regulations and standards should be taken with the utmost seriousness at all times. Safety should never be compromised, even if it means missing a deadline or increasing costs.

9. Does your employer lead by example?

Good leaders are never seen breaching the safety rules, and they don't tolerate others doing so either. If your employer is not a role model, how can you trust him or her to keep your workplace safe?

10. Does your employer have a workers' compensation insurance policy?

In the event of a workplace accident, workers' compensation can help to ease the financial burden. Make sure your employer has an appropriate policy in place.

While your employer has a responsibility to keep you and your colleagues safe, you should take it upon yourself to understand the risks involved and speak up if you have any concerns. It is crucial to know how to avoid safety hazards, ensure equipment and tools are of the highest quality, and meet on-the-job safety standards at all times.

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