Maintaining a safe working environment for employees should be a priority for organizations. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for complying with the OSHA regulations and making sure that employees are safe from injuries at work. However, having training sessions and hanging safety posters aren’t enough.
To create a safer workplace for your employees, you should consistently foster a robust safety culture 24/7 to ensure that safety becomes a part of your organization’s DNA. The fewer accidents in the workplace, the easier it’ll be for the organization to thrive.
Here are seven tips for keeping a safer workplace for your employees:
- Assess Workplace Dangers and Find Solutions
When it comes to business, safety isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing as different companies follow different safety plans. Businesses operating in the retail industry will likely create and implement a different safety plan than businesses operating in the food or service industry.
The first step in keeping a safer workplace for your employees is identifying dangers and finding solutions ASAP. For example, if there are exposed electrical parts in the workplace, contact a commercial electrician right away. If you notice chemicals aren’t labeled, check the Safety Data Sheet or SDS of the chemical supplier, and place a label in the containers.
Going through different areas to assess risks and dangers is tedious but should be done immediately. Failing to identify workplace dangers and finding solutions early can put your employees’ safety at risk.
- Create Safety Procedures
After identifying hazards present in the workplace, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, create, and implement safety producers. These safety procedures will reduce the number of accidents and injuries happening at work. Having safety procedures will also encourage employees to embrace a safety-first mentality.
The process of creating safety procedures will come off easier as OSHA offers several tools that can help. For instance, the agency provides information on what standards organizations should adhere to and how they can meet them in their workplace.
In general, your organization’s safety procedure should include the following:
- Require employees to wear protective clothing when handling or working with any type of hazardous materials. Also, set a plan on how to dispose of these materials in place.
- Employees using heavy machinery should undergo a training program first. This is to ensure that the employees know how to use the equipment safely.
- Work with an electrician to install more outlets in the workplace to avoid overload in high-use areas. Make it a habit to check all of the outlets.
- Encourage all employees to keep their workspace clutter-free. According to statistics, 42,114 people died from slips, trips, and falls at home and at work. Maintaining a clean workspace can go a long way in preventing these kinds of accidents.
- Plan for Emergencies
Exerting time and effort to prepare for expected risks isn’t enough to keep a safer workplace for your employees — you should also plan for emergencies. You don’t want your employees to get hurt at work because they don’t know how to respond to emergencies, right?
You should have an emergency plan in case things go wrong at work. For example, if a fire breaks out in the workplace, do employees know where and how they can safely exit? Are you using well-lit emergency exit signs? Do you have enough emergency fuel to power up your generator when the light cuts off during an emergency? All of these questions should be addressed early, not during emergencies.
If you don’t have an emergency plan yet, don’t fret because there are plenty of resources available online. Just make sure that you customize them based on the number of your employees and the industry your business is operating.
- Put Your Policies in Writing
Keeping a safer workplace for your employees is a long-term commitment. This process doesn’t end once you’ve earned the buy-in of your existing employees — you should also make sure that all new hires follow the same.
Write down all your policies regarding workplace safety on a manual and give it to new and tenured employees. This is one of the most effective ways to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to maintaining safety at work.
Different organizations often have different scopes in their manuals, but topics on general health and safety principles and fall protection should always be covered.
After giving employees a copy of the manual, give them time to thoroughly read the document and ask questions. You need to make sure that employees at all levels fully understand the risks around them and the solutions required to maintain their safety.
- Pay Attention to Ergonomics
Ergonomics is defined as the study of people in their working environment; it’s how employees interact with different parts of their workplace, namely their desks, computer chairs, and many others. The right ergonomics ensure that your employees work easier and safer.
Conversely, when employees strain their bodies at work, they eventually get hurt. And while these types of injuries are often minor, they can impact employees’ productivity and trigger lifelong problems. Some of the common health problems caused by poor ergonomics are back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
As an employer, you are expected to set up an ergonomic workplace for your employees to ensure that they stay comfortable and safe when working. You can:
- Invest in the appropriate type of chair for your employees. These chairs should be height adjustable, have cushioned armrests, and offer lumbar support.
- Position computer screens at eye level. Positioning computer screens at a poor angle causes neck and back pain.
- Arrange all employees’ workspaces so everyone can have ample space to move around. Cramped workplaces lead to different problems, like excessive noise, sprains, and indoor air quality issues.
- Prioritize Safety Training
One of the most essential steps in providing a safer workplace is investing in safety training. Safety training is an excellent avenue for your employees to identify and understand the risks involved in their jobs and how they can remain safe at all times.
One of the biggest misconceptions employers have about providing safety training is that it takes away valuable working hours for the employees. Many believe that safety training sessions reduce productivity as it takes away the time employees spend working and increases the organization’s revenues.
You should never have the same mentality because safety training actually benefits your business in the long run. Safety training reduces the risks of employees being absent for weeks or months due to injuries. Safety training also protects the organization’s brand and image, which can help you haul in more customers and talents.
OSHA offers training for different industries for free, so make sure to take advantage of these offers. The agency also has paid training options for certifications.
- Encourage Communication
Employees are the front liners of the business. They are exposed to various risks and hazards every single day, which is why it’s important to have avenues that allow employees to report unsafe working conditions. Communication is a key. Having a wellness program may help you to build a strong relationship with your employees for them to feel safe.
Make it easy for your employees to speak up about workplace hazards by encouraging communication. Let them know whom they should go to when they have concerns and that they’re always welcome to make comments.
It’s also important to use different modes of communication just in case some employees aren’t comfortable speaking personally. You can inform them that they can share their safety concerns through emails or drop boxes placed in different areas around the workplace.
While you’re at it, consider creating a safety committee composed of employees who will be responsible for addressing safety concerns in the workplace. This committee should meet regularly and come up with tactics to improve safety in the workplace.
Workplace safety should be a priority at all times. Regardless of the size of your business and the industry it operates in, it’ll only attain success if employees stay safe. Having a safety-first attitude helps your business save resources and protects your employees.