Workplace Safety and Health Information for Employers

Health and safety is good for your bottom line

  • Improving safety and health at your workplace can save your company money. Research shows that successful safety and health systems reduce the costs of injury and illness, and have a high return on investment.
  • Healthy employees are more productive than sick workers.
  • Showing your employees that you care about their health and safety, and the health of their families, can improve morale and employee retention.

Engineers discuss plans at the shipyard

Just released: Measuring work-related risk of COVID-19: comparison of COVID-19 incidence by occupation and industry – Wisconsin, September 2020-May 2021

Interested to know the COVID-19 risk related to your line of work? Read the study above that measured the risk of COVID-19 transmission across occupations and industries in the state of Wisconsin.

 

Keep your employees healthy and safe

Identify hazards in your workplace

Some workplace hazards are obvious, like machinery that can cause injury or chemicals that can be poisonous. When identifying hazards in your workplace, remember to include things like stress, working long hours, working night shifts, and noise. Once you have identified the hazards in your workplace, you can take steps to make your workplace safer.

Adequate ventilation in the workplace is one way to address some workplace hazards, including reducing the risk of airborne viruses and other contaminants. Read about the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to learn how you can improve indoor air quality at your workplace.

Workplace hazards can also be biological, such as poisonous plants and insects, or environmental, like long-term heat or cold exposure. These hazards can potentially cause uncommon conditions, that if left undetected and untreated may lead to death. For example, blastomycosis is a disease caused by a fungus too small to see with the naked eye. This fungus resides in dirt and soil, making it a potential hazard in outdoor workspaces. The fact sheet, Blastomycosis: Employers and Workers, P-03246 (available in English, Hmong, and Spanish), contains more information, including what symptoms to look out for and how to prevent your workers from being exposed to the fungus that causes blastomycosis.

Silica dust is a chemical hazard that can cause irreversible lung damage if proper precautions are not taken. Read Silicosis: What Employers Need to Know, P-03261 (available in English, Spanish, and Hmong) to learn more about what silicosis is and how employers can minimize exposure to silica in the workplace.

Follow health and safety requirements

As an employer, you are required to provide a safe workplace for your employees. This means that you check your workplace to make sure there are no serious hazards, you train your employees in safe work practices, and you provide the equipment they need to do their job and stay safe.

Make a plan for pregnant and breastfeeding workers

Some workplace exposure can be more dangerous for pregnant or breastfeeding workers than for other workers. Think about what jobs in your company could be hazardous for your pregnant workers, and share this information with employees. Offer them the option to temporarily transfer into safer jobs while they are pregnant or breastfeeding. If only one part of a pregnant worker's job is hazardous, offer to have another worker take over that specific task temporarily.

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment protects workers from death, injuries, and illnesses. Learn more about this equipment at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website.

COVID-19 employer guidance

Preventing and managing COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace

The workplace outbreak guidance document was created to assist employers when a worker tests positive for COVID-19. It describes how employers can work with local and tribal health departments to keep workers and customers healthy and businesses running smoothly during the pandemic. Please note that this document is meant for non-health care and non-educational settings. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has separate guidance for health care and educational settings.

The workplace outbreak guidance document, Preventing and Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace, P-02787 (available in English, Hmong, and Spanish), contains information on outbreak prevention, COVID-19 testing, and actions to take in case there is a workplace outbreak of COVID-19, or a worker tests positive/comes into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 resources for Wisconsin

Please feel free to contact WisCon with any questions or for COVID-19 Consulting Services. The primary contact for questions regarding COVID-19 outbreaks at your business should be your local public health department or tribal health center.

Questions or concerns can also be directed to the DHS via email at:

For more COVID-19 resources and updates that can impact your business, visit the COVID-19: Businesses, Employers, and Workers page.

Employers and Businesses: Moving Forward with COVID-19

COVID-19 can still cause you, your employees, and your customers to get sick.

Even though more Americans are vaccinated and boosted, it is still possible to catch COVID-19 and spread it to others—even when cases in Wisconsin are lower than in the past. Read Employers and Businesses: Moving Forward with COVID-19 for points and resources to remember as you move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some key points:

Infectious disease outbreaks are bad for business.
Workers who feel safe and respected are good for business.
  • Show your employees you appreciate them! It’s a good idea to offer benefits and additional flexibility, especially during the pandemic.
  • Remember that some people face more risk for severe illness than others.
You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at your business.
  • Open doors and windows when possible to improve air circulation.
  • Encourage sick workers and unvaccinated workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home to avoid getting others sick.
  • Consider providing paid sick leave so infectious workers are not tempted to stay at work.
  • Encourage exposed workers to wear masks during their infectious period.
  • Allow all workers and customers to wear masks if they choose. While not required, they are an inexpensive and highly effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Encourage your employees to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Report to your local health department or tribal health center when an employee gets sick.
You don't have to do it alone.
  • Your local health department or tribal health center can provide you and your employees resources on testing, vaccination, masks, and help with contact tracing.
  • See The Department of Health Service's (DHS) Preventing and Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks in the Workplace, P-02787 (available in English, Spanish, and Hmong) or checklists and resources on preventing and addressing COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace.
  • WisCON offers employer trainings, consultation, and tools on how to protect your workforce from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
  • Commit2Care offers free resources for businesses to safeguard their employees and pledge to C.A.R.E. for their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 will likely come and go for a while.
  • COVID-19 will likely come and go for a while.
  • While no one is certain what will happen in the future, it is likely that COVID-19 will continue to go through periods of rising and falling.
  • Leaning to the side of caution is a smart business practice, especially during periods of high COVID-19 activity.
  • Use the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 County Check to see what prevention steps you should take based on your community’s COVID-19 level.

Resources

WisCon: Wisconsin's free consulting service

Onsite Safety and Health Consultation in Wisconsin (WisCon) is a free consultation service for Wisconsin employers seeking to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Industrial hygienists, engineers, and nurses can evaluate and help you improve your hazard control measures for a safer work environment.

Request a free health hazard evaluation

If you want to make your workplace safer but don't know where to start, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health can help. A Health Hazard Evaluation is a free service from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that will give you advice about what kinds of health hazards might be in your workplace and what steps you can take to make your workplace safer. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health does not give fines if they find a hazard. Instead, they will help you fix the problems they find.

CDC-INFO

Email CDC-INFO or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) for questions about workplace hazards. Your question will be referred to an occupational safety and health specialist.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Wisconsin Occupational Health Program

Selected text adapted with permission from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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Last Revised: August 8, 2022