Strategies for Promoting Health and Safety in Physically Demanding Industries

Katie Brenneman headshot
Katie Brenneman

Managers who oversee employees performing warehouse work, construction, welding, or any other physically demanding job function must ensure that their employees are safe and healthy.

It’s far too easy for an employee to get sick or injured if the proper protocols and benefits are not in place. Consider employing these strategies for the protection of your workforce.

Managers Need To Be Aware Of The Risks

The first step to promoting health and safety in your particular field is to pay attention and be aware of the risks so the employees can be safe and productive. Every industry has its unique issues. For welders, welding fumes can affect the nose or throat and disrupt breathing. Managers should inform welders to keep their faces as far from fumes as possible and to wear a respirator. Exhaust ventilation systems can also help.

Construction managers have a fair share of risks to be aware of when managing their sites. Falling objects, debris, and dangerous tools can pose a threat, so employees should be provided with appropriate protection equipment, from hard hats to masks to gloves. The manager should also gauge the dangers before the project starts, like seeing the potential for fire and putting out fire extinguishers.

Just about every physically demanding career also has a mental health component. Employees might stress about getting hurt on the job, and they may need to work long hours to complete their tasks and eventually get burned out. Managers can help their teams cope with stress and anxiety by having an open-door policy so employees can speak up when necessary. A work-life balance is also essential so the workers can go home, relax, and mentally refresh.

High-Risk Warehouse Environments 

Warehouses provide their own host of risks, as the constant need to pick up and transport items can be exhausting. On top of that, many warehouses have a lot of machinery that can pose risks. Warehouses that store toxic chemicals can also be dangerous if the proper protocols aren’t put in place.

Luckily, there have been many technological advancements over the years that protect employees, and managers should take notice and advocate for their warehouses

For instance, encourage the placement of sensors around the warehouse that can warn an employee if they’re getting too close to a dangerous area or in the route of a forklift. The tech can be essential when workers are distracted or lose their bearings when moving heavy loads. Many of the most exhausting, difficult, and repetitive tasks can be automated to take the human out of the equation completely.

When the goal is to enhance worker safety, managers can also get back to basics by placing signage and images around the warehouse. Various signs remind employees to wear protective equipment, provide instructions for using motorized equipment, and remind them about risks like toxic materials or electric shock. Everyone should be able to read signs despite vision limitations. Make words like “warning” bold, and use a font that makes the wording unmistakable. 

Offer Employees Benefits

Since the employees are doing such physically demanding work, it’s only fitting to provide them with a benefits package that rewards them and promotes their safety. These days, many high-risk industries are less likely to offer employee-provided health insurance because of the potential issues that can happen throughout the day, but your operation should buck that trend.

Providing healthcare options shows the workforce that the company cares and has their back if they’re hurt. Offer medical, vision, and dental insurance so your employees can care for themselves and their families. Provide plans with reasonable deductibles so the team can afford help when necessary.

Some unconventional but effective health benefits can help high-risk workers, like flexible schedules that allow workers to take a different shift so they can rest at home or take care of family issues. A gym membership is another great option because the employees can use it to relax by joining a yoga class, or they could hit the weights and be better prepared for their physically demanding roles. 

If your company has employees who are often at risk, it’s only right to provide the best strategies to keep them safe while on the job. Look at your particular industry and put practices in place to protect your employees’ physical and mental health.

This blog was contributed directly to Workplace Fairness. It is published with permission.

About the Author: Katie Brenneman  is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and education When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.