Safety in the workplace is one of the most important tasks that you will strive towards. The benefits of workplace safety are numerous and more than worth working on. Some of these benefits are:
- Healthier employees take fewer sick days.
- Injuries are potential lawsuits.
- A safer workplace is more productive and more profitable.
- Greater social responsibility adds to your brand image.
- A higher level of safety increases your odds of keeping up with a schedule.
Now that you know why, how do you actually go on to improve workplace safety? Here are several simple tips and tricks you could use.
1. The right safety equipment
Working with faulty equipment is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, when buying or leasing equipment, you need to check if it’s in the right working condition. A lack of proper equipment makes people improvise, which leads to an even worse outcome.
Proper equipment is not just there to prevent injuries. For instance, when it comes to handling materials, using improper equipment will have long-term negative consequences for your body. Materials handling equipment is there to make your job easier and to make you pull less with your back. A simple trolley can save you from a world of back pain in the future.
2. Proper safety training
The next thing you need is to provide your employees with specialist’s training. If they need to work with heavy machinery, they’ll put both their own safety and the safety of others at considerable risk. It is outright irresponsible to let them operate this machinery without passing the training first.
Second, some work that they’ll do takes place in a confined space. Before you let them do their job, you need to provide them with specialist confined space training. This is the only way to provide everyone with a decent amount of protection.
3. Trust but verify
Safety is all about accountability. While they have someone behind their back, looking at what they’re doing, your employees are bound to pay more attention. This is why they are bound to make mistakes in production/work that would never happen during training.
It’s not all about being supervised either. People lose focus and get bored if they’re performing the same task over and over again. They also get overconfident, believing that if they didn’t make a mistake the last 1,000 times, they won’t make one now, either. Needless to say, this is not necessarily the truth. So, make sure that you perform regular inspections and that you always have someone looking at what they’re doing.
4. Safety policies and procedures
In his Art of War, Sun Tzu said that if the order is unclear, the fault is not with the soldier but with the commander. The same principle can be applied to your workplace safety. In order to follow the rules, your employees need to know what these rules are. Therefore, it’s vital that you base your safety policy on procedures that are effective and in agreement with the word of law.
Other than this, it’s also important that you adjust your policies and procedures to your own workplace. Keep in mind that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when safety is involved.
5. Make it into a collective responsibility
Previously, we’ve talked about what you can do in order to improve workplace safety as an employer or a manager. However, safety should be a collective responsibility.
Using a near-miss reporting system is one of the ways for you to incentivize this behavior. Whenever they notice a potential risk or hazard, they should report it and get rewarded for it. Sometimes, this can be a bonus to their paycheck. At other times you can give them an extra day off or even commend them in front of their peers. Employee rewards come in many different forms.
While you can never protect your employees from injuries with 100% reliability, there is so much you can do in order to increase safety in the workplace. There is so much for you to do and your work is never truly done. The circumstances change, new people arrive on a regular basis and some of the old methods get worn out/less reliable over the course of time. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to stay ever vigilant.