Health and safety are an integral component of workforce sustainability and improved productivity in the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmacists are constantly being exposed to chemical and biological hazards which pose a serious threat to their health. Furthermore, lack of adequate safety standards and non-compliance may impact workforce productivity and have significant repercussions on business sustenance in the long run.
Therefore, it is important to have optimal health and safety practices while ensuring that all employees adhere to such regulations. Discussed here are the tips to maintain improved health and safety standards in the pharmaceutical industry.
A. Risk Evaluation
Effective risk evaluation is the cornerstone of assessing the potential hazards at workplace and ensuring safety of the employees. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is legally obligatory to conduct thorough health and safety risk estimation. It involves reviewing the workplace to identify the dangers and their sources. Typically, the following steps are involved in health and safety risk assessment:
- Walk around the facility to discover potential risks and evaluate the accident record sheets
- Once the dangers are identified, check which employees are most vulnerable to such threats
- Determine how the workplace hazards can be managed and control; set a definitive action plan – the objective must be to either minimise or remove the hazard to ensure improved health and safety of the employees
- Record the risks and action taken to demonstrate the issue has been identified and given attention
- Review the risk evaluation report annually to ensure effective implementation of health and safety measures in the workplace
B. Practice Primary Laboratory Safety
In the pharmaceutical industry, maintaining basic safety in the laboratory is mandatory. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have comprehensive guidelines regarding how to practice lab safety. Ensure all your employees are aware of the primary health and safety practices and take preventive measures when working in a hazard-prone environment.
Based on OSHA guidelines, the following key steps can be taken to maintain health and safety at the laboratory:
- Practice frequent cleaning, particularly when the employees are exposed to chemical hazards or particles
- Wash hands regularly and properly to inhibit the spread of bacteria, viruses or hazardous chemicals
- Never eat, drink or smoke inside the laboratory
- Make wearing suitable Personal Protective Equipment mandatory inside the laboratory – coveralls, eye gear, protective helmet, shoe covers, etc.
- Label the containers appropriately
- Regularly check that all equipment is working properly and safe to use
- Wear head cap to prevent contamination through hair
- Keep the corridors clean and sanitised
- Perform risk evaluations every day
C. Ensure Injury Free Work Environment
For any pharmaceutical company, employees are the biggest asset. To ensure their improved health and safety, it is important to implement and regulate an “injury free” environment. Set guidelines, take action and regulate implementation of safety measures that eliminate injuries and incidents. Some of the key steps here are:
- Visibly demonstrate and inspire through your commitment to inculcate an injury and incident free culture
- Educate employees that they are accountable for their own safety and also for the safety of those around them
- Implement effective management that helps identify, control and eliminate all types of hazards up to an acceptable limit
- Take appropriate action to prevent the reoccurrence of incidents and injuries through effective investigation and anticipatory strategy development
- Implement and regulate corporate safety standards across all your pharmaceutical buildings, offices and laboratories
- Conduct injury-free survey wherever appropriate to discover opportunities for improvements
D. Health & Safety Standards in Handling Chemicals
Transporting and handling hazardous chemicals can be dangerous. If done inappropriately by untrained staff, it can cause chemical releases, explosions and fire. To minimise the risk and ensure more safety, it should be done “so far as is reasonably practicable.” Using the Classification of Chemicals can be an effective way of handling hazardous chemicals and mitigating the associated risks.
The Classification of Chemicals helps identify how the chemicals can have detrimental effects. It also states how the chemicals should be labelled correctly and handled in a legally-compliant manner to avoid disasters or health risks. High temperature, high pressure or oxidation often causes chemicals to explode or release. By lowering the oxidation work scale and understanding the right flammable limits, pharmaceutical companies can help reduce the risks.
Installing emergency showers is also an effective way of handling chemicals when they come directly into contact with the user. It can help wash away the chemical from the PPE and the skin to prevent health hazards. Consider installing eye wash stations inside the facility to minimise the risk of major damages.
Ensuring health and safety of the employees in the workplace is the responsibility of the employer. Having optimal practices in place and ensuring that all employees adhere to them can help improve health and safety standards in the workplace.