Thursday, 25 July 2019

How to Improve Worker Safety in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry spends its days creating medications and equipment that save lives across the country and around the globe. The entire sector is subject to the highest quality control standards, but that focus on QC often leaves other areas — such as worker safety — lacking. How can managers and supervisors improve worker safety in the pharmaceutical industry?

Guest post by Megan Ray Nichols

Common Industry Problems

First, what are some common safety problems that workers in the pharmaceutical industry face?

First, there are physical hazards — cuts are among the most common injuries experienced in the industry, due to workers continually dealing with sharp instruments like scalpels and scissors. Broken glass can also contribute to the threat of physical injury, as well as problems with heat and electricity.

Chemical and biological hazards are also problematic for workers in this industry. The chemicals used to create drugs and treatments can be dangerous in large quantities, or if workers are exposed to them during the fabrication process. During recycling/reclamation, there is the threat of a biological hazard if a worker is injured by a used needle or scalpel during their workday.

Finally, there are psychological hazards that managers and supervisors will need to contend with. Workers in the pharmaceutical industry are often subjected to long hours and heavy workloads that can have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health.

In 2017, there were more than 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries, with nearly 900,000 of these requiring the employees to stay home to recover.

With all of these concerns in mind, what can pharmaceutical companies do to ensure that their workers are safe throughout their workdays?

Finding a Solution

How can pharmaceutical supervisors and managers ensure that their workers are safe on the job?

The first step is to understand why employees take risks that result in workplace injuries. Employees may feel like safety isn't a priority or that they don't need to adhere to safety protocols because they've done their job without incident up until this point.

Once you understand why employees are taking risks, the next step is to work toward establishing a safety culture, one that covers all the potential risks and makes employees want to actively participate in workplace safety. Take the time to make safety everyone's job and everyone's priority. As part of this safety culture, offer continuing education programs that employees can take advantage of. Safety training shouldn't only take place during an employee's onboarding — it should be an endless process to reinforce those skills to create a safe workplace for everyone.

Additionally, safety software could help pick up the slack, so to speak, where a safety culture and continuing education fall short. Safety software includes a centralized information hub that all employees can access, as well as standards and compliance schedules that everyone will need to adhere to. Combining software with safety culture and continual training can help keep your pharmaceutical employees safe on the job.

The Future of Pharmaceutical Worker Safety

It's difficult to predict what the future of the pharmaceutical industry will look like. As technology and medicine both continue to advance, it's entirely possible that the sector will be completely unrecognizable by today's standards in a decade or two. One thing that will stand the test of time, however, is the need for worker safety. Start today by creating a safety culture, and investing in continued education for your staff.

Pharmaceutical workers are what keep the industry moving forward, from the hands that run the manufacturing equipment to the minds that create new drugs that will change lives. Make safety your priority, and work to make it everyone's responsibility, from the highest CEO to the newest laborer, and you will help to prevent on the job accidents.

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