12 ways to make your workplace safer for employees
According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured while on the job every 7 seconds in the US.
That’s a lot of injuries.
This high rate of workplace injury is hazardous for employees and it is also detrimental to employers. Having an employee land up in the hospital is not only distressing, but it also impacts company productivity and morale.
If your company does not have thorough (and compliant) workplace safety protocols in place, this could have serious consequences—for employees and the company.
If you are wondering how to make the workplace safer, look no further. We have lined up a detailed list of some of the top strategies that companies can implement to ensure that workers stay safe.
1. Get a Great Safety Culture in Place
The first step to ensuring good workplace safety conditions is to establish a safety-focused company culture.
This means that not only does your company employ safety practices, but that a safety-first mindset is ingrained in the company culture.
If you already have a good company culture going, review the tenants of it. Is safety included? How highly is safety valued?
If you have any company culture documents or guidelines, then go in and edit these to reflect your focus on safety. Bring the topic up at meetings where the company culture is addressed.
2. Identify Potential Hazards
The next thing to do is to identify all potential safety hazards.
These can be things like areas of the workplace that could pose a threat, such as slippery tiling at entrances, or inadequate railing. Unguarded machinery, high noise levels, mold, and unergonomic seating are a few other examples of potential safety hazards.
Make a list of any safety hazards that are identified. Then work from this list to make changes, eliminate these hazards and to place signage and warnings to employees.
3. Bring in an Occupational Clinician
To make sure that you haven’t missed anything you can also bring in an occupational clinician to evaluate your business’s premises.
Workplace occupational clinicians work with businesses to identify and improvement potential safety hazards around the workplace. You can also use their services to improve ergonomic conditions and create human performance evaluation protocols.
These can be used when hiring staff for physically demanding positions to ensure that injuries are minimized.
4. Put Signs and Warnings in Place
Once you have identified all potential safety hazards around the workplace, its time to get going with safety signage. Having warning signs installed in areas where unavoidable safety hazards are present—such as high noise levels and machinery—will go far in ensuring that employees are aware of any risks and that they guard against them.
Work on the wording of the signs that you want to display and then send the info off to a signage company in your area. Although it might be tempting to turn to the office printer to create your signs, laminated, hard, and durable signs are a much better idea.
Papers that get tacked onto walls get old, fall off, and it can be easy to forget to replace them.
5. Implement Thorough Safety Training
A key element to increasing safety levels within your company is to implement thorough safety training.
This can include:
• Fire safety training
• First aid training
• Emergency procedure drills
• Equipment training
• Health and safety protocol meetings
• Computer ergonomics training
• Other safety training specific to your industry
To ensure that you are carrying out the right industry-specific safety training, research what is required for your industry.
6. Adhere to National Safety Requirements
You also want to make sure that you are adhering to the national safety requirements. Having workplace safety compliance in place is key to upping safety levels, and it is also required by law.
The governing body who sets the national safety requirements is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The best place to start when evaluating your compliance is to check their list of laws and regs for your particular industry.
Besides the industry-specific requirements, one requirement that falls across all industries is that you must keep an OSHA injury and illness log.
This log documents all injuries and illnesses suffered by workers, and it is mandatory that you keep one. To get going on this important requirement ASAP, you can download injury and illness forms from their website.
7. Make Sure That All Employees Have Access to the Right Tools and That These Are Well Maintained
One serious source of workplace accidents is tools and equipment. To make sure that safety levels are not compromised, all tools and equipment need to be checked regularly for faults and maintained well.
Employees also need to have access to the right tools to ensure safety. For example, if a construction worker is hanging off a ladder, in place of using solid scaffolding, this can greatly increase the risk of falls and serious injury.
8. Avoid Praising Employee Actions That Could Lead to Accidents
To reward employees for hard work and enthusiasm to get the job done, as a manager it’s easy to accidentally praise un-safe actions.
Say your department is working on an around-the-clock deadline. One employee pushed themselves past the limits of fatigue and really works hard to get the job done. Usually, this would be highly regarded and the person well praised.
But, actions like this can constitute a safety hazard. If the person is working with machinery, this is exacerbated. If they are merely working on the computer (sounds safe, right?), they could still have an accident due to tiredness, such as a car accident while driving home.
This might not sound like one of the most impactful workplace safety tips—but by changing the way you praise certain actions, you will be ingraining in your employees a safety-first outlook.
9. Rather Reward Safety Conscious Behavior
Rewarding safety-first consciousness is a great way to encourage employees to focus on safety at all times.
This could take the form of praising employees for adhering to safety requirements. Or it could be a company competition to see who looked after their safety gear the best each month. Or, if you are dealing with office workers, you can praise employees for taking quick breaks, or for sitting ergonomically.
10. Implement Stretch Breaks
Speaking of taking quick breaks, another great workplace safety tip is to implement stretch breaks.
Research has shown that stretching can prevent the risk of injuries. It is also a great way to re-energize the brain and refresh one’s focus.
You can either choose to make breaks for employees to do regular stretches (touch your toes, head rolls, etc)—or if you think that your employees would like it, set up 10-15 minutes yoga sessions.
This might be especially beneficial if a large portion of your employees work on the computer. High volumes of computer work can cause and contribute to back pain, which can lower productivity in employees. It so happens that yoga has been scientifically proven to be able to reduce back pain, even in chronic cases.
11. Set up a Roster of On-Going Safety Meetings
Once you have all of these rock-solid safety practices in place, what do you need to do to ensure that your safety measures stay in place and stay active?
Implement safety meetings of course!
Not many of us like meetings, but scheduling short and to-the-point safety meetings throughout the coming months will ensure that you and your team stay safety focused.
It is important to plan these out ahead of time. Things like safety can often take second priority to other more seemingly urgent issues such as looming deadlines. This makes it easy to postpone safety meetings again and again.
Instead, input them into your calendar and stick to these arranged dates as far as possible.
12. Know Who to Call
Do you know what is just as vital—or even more important—than all of these safety practices?
Knowing who to call when something does go wrong.
If someone is injured they must receive medical attention as soon as possible. At the same time, certain procedures need to be followed if they are to comply with worker’s compensation rules.
In New York for example, unless it is an emergency, injured or unwell workers need to seek assistance from workers compensation doctors to be able to make their compensation claim.
To make sure that workers visit the applicable health care professional be sure to research the requirements for your area and keep a list of relevant contact details. Also, display emergency numbers clearly within the workplace so that everybody has access to them.
Now You Know How to Make the Workplace Safer
If you were wondering how to make the workplace safer, by now you will have a pretty good idea of all the things that you can implement to ensure that your company has a bullet-proof safety protocol in place.
Having a great safety culture and all the correct measures established means that you can keep workers safe, happy, healthy, on the job and more productive.
It’s a win-win!
Do you know what else is a win-win? Checking out the rest of the business section of our website, for more informative articles like this one!