How safe is your workplace? Are your employees taking unnecessary risks?
Each year, there 2.8 million workplace injuries and illnesses reported across the United States. Accidents will always happen, but keeping your employees safe on the job should be one of your top priorities.
We are here to help improve the safety of your office or work space. Read on for 7 critical steps that will help you create a safe workplace.
1. Identify Risks
First, identify and assess potential risks and hazards in the workplace. You should get a professional assessment done. Then management should release a company-wide, survey to let employees express their concerns. Keep it anonymous to get the best feedback.
You want to get employee feedback as they’re the ones working in these conditions. They can often provide insight management and owners can’t see if they don’t deal with it. Or have an untrained eye.
For assessments, make a distinction between hazards, like so:
- workplace hazards (building layout/design)
- activity hazards (machinery or equipment)
- environment hazards (health risks/air quality)
You want to make these distinctions for both employee and professional assessments. Once you have identified the danger risks at your workplace, it’s time to put up some safety signs. You can purchase these from UK site safety signage suppliers such as Seton to keep your work space safe and secure.
2. Train Your Employees
An important step to improve workplace safety is employee training. How often are you enforcing and emphasizing safety? Is it weekly, monthly quarterly, or yearly? If you want better workplace safety, it needs to be an ingrained part of your company culture.
Hiring an occupational health expert will be one of the best ways you can ensure proper training. Once you know what your workplace safety weaknesses are, you can train and find solutions. This tailored training plan must engage workers and improve workplace culture.
Ongoing training is key here too. Go back over your training and assessments and do refresher courses. All your employees much receive access to this safety training, regardless of position.
3. Put in Place Safety Protocols
Workplace safety begins when you start your business, or you’re hiring a new employee. For a safe workplace, employees must perform their jobs while following safety protocol.
You can also work with a physical therapist who will determine the physical strains of a job. You can use this information to put together functional safety testing and protocol.
There should also be regular meetings on the safety protocol and doing more to prevent harm. It’s important that in the event of a disaster, all employees know what to do. For instance, if there is a leak of toxic fumes or other airborne contaminants at your workplace, you need to have gas masks available. Employees need to know where these gas masks are, how to use them, and be sure that the masks have a new cbrn filter in them so they function optimally. If all these bases aren’t covered, the safety protocol would fail and employees could get hurt or worse.
If you have hazardous chemicals on site, you need a safe storage location for them with limited access. For example, you may need a secure cabinet to store aerosol cans and bottles in the workplace. If you need to get some of these cabinets for the workplace, you can click to learn more about some of the options that are available for you to choose from.
They should know the procedure for each machine or piece of equipment and where first aid kits are. They also need to know the immediate steps to take in event of injury. It’s your responsibility to set these protocols and encourage safety in the workplace.
4. Encourage Safe Workplace Behaviour
We’re not saying the workplace is like school and your employees should fight over gold stars. But it’s proven that even the highest-ranked employees appreciate recognition and praise.
So, to encourage a culture of workplace safety you should consider using rewards. Reward employees that are following procedure. This includes wearing the right PPE and taking the set breaks they need to.
Working too much, too hard, or too long can lead to accidents. Especially when it involves heavy machinery. Praise employees who are following and adhere to the safety protocols. And for those who don’t, remind them, and then reward them next time when they do.
5. Create a Safety Committee
We said you should hold regular meetings and go over protocol, but you can go a step further. Establish a workplace health and safety committee.
It should include a range of employees from different departments. And it shouldn’t only include management. You need representatives from every area from shop floor to senior positions at the top.
You should meet at least monthly to discuss the current protocol, any issues, or any further steps. It’s important to provide minutes of this meeting to the rest of your staff to keep them in the loop too after.
You should provide information that’s company-wide on things like (but not limited to):
- inspection results
- illness & injury stats
- safety topics
Use your digital systems to get these safety meeting updates out to everyone in the company. You could even produce a company newsletter that includes more in-depth info. Consider topics like these work safety tips and fire prevention processes.
The committee should survey or hold a company-wide meeting quarterly. Regular employee feedback will help you keep abreast of any developing or new issues. You should undertake a review of new equipment/machinery you introduce for example.
No one is perfect, things get missed. Regular feedback also helps address any safety issues that slip through the net. It’s a way of making employees feel valued and understand how they’re feeling/doing. This will be a morale and productivity boost and help with workplace mental health.
6. Use Visual Safety Aids and Instructions
The bolder the better here; you need your aids and instructions to grab attention. Use color-coding, posters, signs, and labels to warn of potential hazards.
Also, put OSHA posters up in any break/recreation rooms. To broadcast important updates, messages, and safety information, use your digital signage systems.
In emergency situations, digital signage can be a huge boon. You can use it to send an instant warning or notification of an ongoing situation, unlike posters. And it’s easy to update in real-time as the situation progresses. It’s also handy in areas where computers and mobile devices aren’t allowed.
It’s important to note that a messy workplace will increase the risk of accidents and injury. Make sure your floors are clear and unobstructed and clean up any spills right away. There should be a regular inspection to make sure there are no hazards from a messy environment. This is completely avoidable.
7. Encourage Proper Regular Breaks
Shift work, long hours, and stressful or demanding work can lead to poor sleep. It can even lead to extreme fatigue over time. Overtiredness and fatigue raise the risk of workplace injury or poor health. This is especially dangerous when it comes to jobs that involve overnight shifts, or 12-24 hour shifts in healthcare settings, first responders, fire departments, military, and police forces where people’s lives are on the line.
Proper, regular breaks are important for reducing this risk. It also helps boost productivity and morale in the workforce. Making sure your employees are well-rested boosts their mental and physical health.
A 15-minute walk or stretch break alone can make a big difference. It can loosen joints and muscles, and reduce tension that otherwise could lead to a strain injury. This applies to shop floor and office workers. Repetitive strain injury is a risk to all.
Encourage your employees to step away and take regular breaks to walk around. Let them stretch, rest, and decompress for better workplace safety and employee health.
Creating a Safe Workplace
Accidents will always happen, but by creating a safe workplace you can reduce their frequency and severity. It is vital that you keep your workforce trained and engaged with any safety procedures you implement. A workforce that is actively on the lookout for danger is your greatest asset. Make sure that a safe workplace is always a top priority for your company!