SAFETY STARTS WITH YOU: 9 WAYS TO PUT SAFETY FIRST
With so many pistons running at once in the machine that is your business, it can be difficult to find a way to build a safety culture from the top down that sticks. Safety Services Company has put together a guide to help you make safety a priority in your workplace in 2018.
1. Lead By Example
Employees only take workplace safety as seriously as their leaders. If you don’t want your employees taking shortcuts or slacking on safety, you shouldn’t either. You need to show your own dedication to your business’ safety programs in order to see it reflected back at you. Take an active role in safety meetings, ensure equipment repairs or replacements are turned around quickly, post necessary safety information in conspicuous places, and make it clear that your door is always open to discuss safety concerns.
2. Encourage Whistleblowing
It can be hard to keep an eye on all of the minutia occurring at ground level when you’ve got so much on your plate up top. You need teamwork and cooperation from your employees to ensure safety hazards and concerns are raised as soon as they’re identified. Unfortunately, many employees will avoid reporting these concerns out of fear of retaliation, either in the form of employment consequences, or anger from coworkers for “being a tattle tale.” To remedy this, it’s important to make it clear that the reporting of safety concerns is confidential, free of negative consequence, and necessary.
3. Make Employees Accountable, Including Supervisors & Management
In order for safety to remain at the forefront of everyone’s mind, each person employed at your company must be aware of precisely what is expected of them, and what the consequences are should they fail to meet those expectations. This falls not only on employees in their day-to-day operations, but on supervisors and management as well in making sure they do their part in enforcing safety rules at work.
4. Get Your Employees Involved
Individuals who see their goals and values reflected in the workplace tend to have a stronger sense of commitment towards seeing their company succeed. The same goes for building your safety culture. Although regulatory compliance must often follow strict guidelines without room for input, you can open your door to thoughts and suggestions from your employees when developing specific procedures. This benefits them in that they know their input is valuable and taken into consideration, and benefits you in that you can get a better understanding of what’s important to your employees.
5. Dedication to Safety Should Be Rewarding
Although the main reward of safety should be leaving work as intact and healthy as you were when you arrived, employees who feel as though their efforts are appreciated are more likely to have a personal stake in your business’ safety culture. If you make an effort to show appreciation for the efforts put in by employees, management and supervisors, and individual departments, word will soon spread that there are additional benefits to taking safety seriously. Consider incentive programs in which reasonable gifts or monetary rewards are offered to individuals who go long periods of time without an incident, or a lunch is awarded to a department with no infractions, for example.
6. Training, Training, Training
Training is the fundamental, driving force behind occupational health and safety. Through training, employees learn how to perform their jobs correctly and with care, and how to identify and respond to safety hazards should they unexpectedly arise. As part of making safety a workplace priority, training needs to extend beyond initial hire training. You should ensure employees receive refresher training, are trained on new equipment or procedures as they are introduced, and undergo new training if they are reassigned to a different position. It is also important to offer training to employees who request it, so be sure to have additional resources available.
7. Safety Is important For Every Role & Position
Don’t forget anyone – your business’ safety culture should be all encompassing. Perhaps your workers operating machines in the shop are exposed to the most obvious and life-threatening hazards, but don’t forget about your salespeople or your receptionist. Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel, are among the most frequently reported cases of workplace injury in North America. Are your salespeople set up to work in an ergonomically comfortable fashion? Are they breaking to stand or walk often enough? Is office lighting adequate to prevent eye strain? Safety hazards sometimes exist in unassuming ways.
8. Invest In Quality Tools & Equipment
Don’t cut corners when it comes to the equipment in your workplace. Not only does lower-quality equipment break down and require repairs and replacements more often, but can contribute to the potential for injuries and hazardous malfunctions. This goes for personal protective equipment (PPE) as well. Providing the best tools for the job will once again show your employees that you take their health and safety as seriously as you do your own.
9. Have a Strong Workplace Safety Program
This can be time consuming, but it will be one of the most valuable tools at your disposal. A quality written workplace safety program will thoroughly describe how your business will ensure the health and safety of its workers, from roles and responsibilities down to step-by-step procedures for specific operations. Having this information in written form allows you to update it easily and consistently as a living document, provide employees with expectations, and refer back to it in the event of an incident, investigation, or litigation.
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