A safe workplace is not only in place for insurance purposes, and legal standing, it gives a safe working environment to the managers, employees, and to customers alike.
This stands for all types of workplaces. While some workplaces may need more safety procedures, others will need much less. But, whatever the case, it is very crucial to follow guidelines and safety procedures to remain in compliance with safety authorities and local authorities.
Safe workplaces are happy workplaces, it creates a much more comfortable and more conducive environment for the staff who work there in order to effectively do their jobs.
The Importance Of Workplace Safety
The wellbeing and safety of employees is an important enough reason for you to establish a strict safety program inside your workplace. However, there are various other benefits for a business to start an efficient safety program, and to stick to it.
The benefit of workplace safety for businesses can include:
- Brand image.
- Raises morale in employees.
- Keep a clean schedule.
- Meeting social responsibilities.
- Increase in employee productivity.
- An increase in profits.
- Meeting customer expectations.
- Healthy employees.
Safe workplaces are happy workplaces, encouraging and creating conductive and comfortable environments. It is also important for client relationships as well. If your workplace is not safe for your employees, then it is most certainly unsafe for your clientele as well.
Workplace safety culture is an approach for the safety management of an organization. It will begin via an effort made through individuals and groups alike. The culture of workplace safety is through the proficiency, attitudes, goals and values of a program set by a company.
Without these measures in place you can be certain that accidents and injuries will occur, and the company will have no insurance coverage or legal protection in these events if a proper workplace safety program is not in place.
HR will usually be the creator of a workplace safety program, however, it is up to all members of staff to adhere to the program, as well as feedback, and provide information regarding the effectiveness of a program, as well as if there are any holes in the program.
The outcome of having a workplace safety program is a more safe and secure working environment for all members of staff, and clients alike.
It is the responsibility of all staff members to contribute to the safety of a working environment, as it keeps everyone safe to do so.
15 Ways To Help Improve Workplace Safety
Establishing a work culture that promotes and prioritizes workplace safety, psychologically, and physically is the primary first step in ensuring that employees will feel happy and comfortable in their workplace.
However, having comfortable employees also ensures they are comfortable enough to share their ideas in regard to workplace safety. In a safe environment psychologically, employees should have no fear of being ridiculed or facing sanctions for statements.
So, ensure that you create a psychologically/ emotionally safe workplace, in doing so, you make employees feel comfortable, which makes the environment safer already.
Next, it is important to tackle physical safety concerns. Here are some things you should be considering…
1. Use Correct Labels And Signs In Designated Areas
When you are trying to put a workplace safety procedure in place it is ideal to ensure that there is sufficient sign posting. However, you need to ensure that you do so correctly.
Signs and labels should be clear, simple, and effectively to the point.
Using labels and signs is a really inexpensive way to get your point across and ensure that everyone knows what they should be doing to enforce the workplace safety regulations.
Workplace safety procedures are vital information to the effective and safe running of a company.
You can use pictures, diagrams, or simple signs and labels to inform staff of safety procedures, and to warn staff and clients alike of any safety hazards there may be.
In complex or dangerous working environments, such as construction sites, or in areas with dangerous tools such as kitchens, it is ideal to have safety procedures signs posted around the location for staff to always remain informed and safe.
Diagrams can be better than signs or labels for instructions, whereas signs and labels can be best to warn of hazardous areas, dangerous chemicals, and basic safety warnings.
Ensuring that these signs, labels, and diagrams are always clear and clean, is very important. This information needs to remain visible, so when you install these, ensure that maintaining their visibility is also top priority.
2. Provide Regular Health And Safety Training To Employees
It is important to provide staff with regular health and safety training. Doing so will help your staff to understand the procedures and why they are in place.
Whether you decide to get a professional health and safety company to train your staff, or if you have someone in your company who is the head of health and safety to train employees is up to you.
The most important thing is that this training is regular. Workplaces are changeable environments in which things can differ and change on a regular basis. In changeable environments you want to ensure staff are up-to-date on any procedures that are different.
For this reason workplaces can benefit from training as regular as every month to every quarter, depending on the amount of health and safety procedures a company needs.
A cinema may only need to train staff on a quarterly basis, as things are less likely to change. However, on a construction site, or in a chemical warehouse, or even a power plant, training may be needed monthly to ensure staff are always up-to-date and prepared.
The training should also not be rushed and should be as in depth and thorough as possible to ensure staff are aware of all procedures, changes, and are prepared in the event of an accident, emergency or other incident.
3. Report Any Unsafe Conditions
Encourage your staff to be vigilant for any problems or unsafe conditions that may be found around the workplace.
When your staff feel psychologically/ emotionally safe around the workplace, you are also encouraging them to be more vigilant and be aware of any potentially unsafe conditions.
Create a plan to ensure that any unsafe conditions can be easily reported.
For example, if you were to consider a kitchen environment, consider a booklet for unsafe conditions much like you would have an accident booklet. Have a margin in said booklet in which you can note that it has been reported to a superior, and if it has been fixed.
A log book to fix and monitor unsafe conditions can keep any potential accidents in check, and can highlight any staff members who may need further training or assistance in health and safety.
Upon the reporting of unsafe conditions in the workplace, these conditions should be fixed as soon as they are noticed and/or reported. If it is too dangerous for you to remove the risk, or if it requires being fixed by a superior, ensure that a supervisor, or manager is notified immediately.
The sooner a situation is reported, the better, and it will be safer for everyone inside the working area.
4. Wear Necessary Safety Gear
In some workplaces, staff and employees may be required to wear safety equipment. In many places, uniforms may be required simply for the health and safety of staff and clients alike.
Ensure that you always wear the proper recommended safety equipment inside the workplace.
Your proper safety gear could be reflective gear, industrial workwear, fire-retardant clothing, non-slip shoes, a hair-net, or anything else that is required of employees in a workplace to wear.
In debris, dust, or other respiratory specific environments in which you may have difficulty breathing, you should always wear a breathing mask. If you have to deal with dangerous or toxic fumes of chemicals, this should also be applied.
Should you have to handle unsafe chemicals or materials, you should be wearing gloves, or full body protection. If you are in a construction environment then you should be wearing a hard-hat, or other protective headgear.
Consider the materials you handle on a regular basis for your work as well to ensure that you are wearing adequate PPE to stay safe.
PPE can be anything that protects your person from potentially harmful outside influences.
If you are concerned that you do not have enough PPE to protect yourself sufficiently, speak to your supervisor, or superior to seek out more protective gear for your working environment.
Personal safety is key.
5. Take Regular Breaks
It is important in workplaces to be taking regular breaks. Although we often get into the mindset that we need to get things done as soon as possible, it is best to take regular breaks for the sake of our own health.
This is important in all working environments. Whether you work in retail, or in a heavy lifting environment, or even in an office. Regular breaks are very important.
Health and safety is about more than just injuries such as trips, slips, and falls, burns or cuts. Health and safety also includes combating eye strain, preventing issues that come with sitting for long periods of time, or foot and back problems from standing for too long.
Humans were not made to be standing behind a counter for 8 hours a day, nor were we made to be sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. Taking breaks is very important for our health.
Taking breaks allows our bodies to rest from the tasks we are doing. When we return to the tasks, we are refreshed and come back more focused, with a much higher level of concentration.
Step away from your computer to avoid straining your eyes, ensure you have a suitable ergonomic chair to prevent back pain. Ensure staff are given the appropriate materials and have a schedule that allows for breaks to restore themselves and work more efficiently and safely.
6. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
A big part of ensuring health and safety in the workplace is to ensure you are aware of your surroundings and are paying attention to any potential hazards to reduce the chance of any workplace injuries.
Consider the following in your workplace environments:
- Be aware of any spills or objects on the floor that could cause trips or slips.
- Ensure all emergency exits are always uncluttered and are kept clear so that in the event of an emergency they are easily accessible.
- Be aware of the appropriate safety gear and equipment that needs to be used for each task that you are completing.
- Only ever use sturdy and secure ladders. Never use boxes or other things, improvised to be a ladder.
- Always make sure that any hazardous areas or objects are labeled as being such.
- Always choose mechanical aids like wheelbarrows and forklifts are available to assist in the lifting of items.
- Always machines and tools properly and as instructed to prevent any injuries, and encourage others to do this also.
- Always be aware of where first aid kits are kept and those who are staff members which are training in first aid. If you are a manager ensure a first aid trained member of staff is always available.
- Be sure to test our railings before they are being used.
- Be aware, and ensure others are also aware of the procedures in place in the event of earthquakes, fires, floods, and other emergencies.
7. Keep the Workplace Clean
Always ensure that your workplace and working environment is always clear and clean. Having a clean workplace that is clear of clutter, with no risk of slips or trips from cluttered areas or unclean locations impacts job satisfaction in a positive way.
If you should not have a clean and uncluttered workplace then you, or someone else could easily fall or trip over objects. Clutter can also easily hide other, dangerous hazards that may not otherwise be easily seen.
It is important to have designated storage areas for different objects. Hazardous objects should be stored in a secure location away from non-hazardous objects. Much like how raw and cooked meats should never be stored near one another either.
Maintaining and ensuring a clean workplace does not only ensure the safety of staff but also of clients/customers, and anyone else who enters the area.
A clean workplace also ensures better ratings from governing bodies, granting you better approval ratings, hygiene ratings and overall health and safety ratings as an employer and as a business. So it is beneficial to the business in multiple ways.
8. Implement Safety Procedures
It is important for you to implement sufficient safety procedures. Each year around 2.8 million workers are injured in the workplace, and over 5,000 workers suffer fatalities related to work.
Ensuring workplaces are safe and are hazard-free for employees is a major step in preventing problems such as this. However, fatalities and legal repercussions should not be the employer’s only concerns.
Many costs are accrued in companies from lost productivity, injured employees resulting in lost time, damage to property, decreasing morale, and more.
Proper safety procedures should be updated regularly, and inspections should be carried out regularly, and concerns followed up to ensure the effectiveness of a workplace.
In order to start implementing safety procedures, you should have a safety and health committee, and have employees conduct a reasonable amount of daily safety inspections.
Follow up by informing employees about injury and illness data, safety inspections and other issues. Then ask for feedback from employees, as employees are more likely to know about problems relative to safety than managers are.
Practice accountability in management and in employees when it comes to safety responsibilities, noting these down in performance reviews. Set safety goals, discipline violations, and set up a clear system for reporting injuries and hazards in the workplace.
Have complaints logs, compensation reports, OSHA logs, and first aid log books to assist in monitoring all of the above.
9. Have Regular Health And Safety Meetings
Communication is very key in any workplace setting, however, when you are trying to communicate about health and safety you need to ensure staff are kept up to date regularly.
Keep an online line of communication between staff and managers, this lets them know that you care and that their opinions matter and will be heard. This keeps them in the loop about any changes there are, and it will give workers an opportunity to voice concerns.
Oftentimes, employees on the floor will see more risks and hazards, or room for improvement than management will. This is why it is even more important that managers keep an open line of communication with staff.
It is also important that staff mental health is safe guarded, as well as physical health. Unhappy staff will not be as vigilant and more mistakes will be made.
Having regular meetings about workplace safety, and updating staff on new procedures, and opportunities to improve the workplace is important.
Regular meetings about these topics are important overall, as they encourage staff to stay up to date on company occurrences. Update staff on aspects of health and safety which may have changes and incorporate team building exercises in relation to safety into meetings.
Perhaps fire drills, or group activities to practice procedures can help to ensure all staff are comfortable and educated in all health and safety measures.
10. Communicate Importance Of Workplace Safety
Communication is the most important part of ensuring that employees are aware of workplace safety procedures.
You can communicate workplace safety and its importance to staff through multiple means.
There are 4 regular keys to success in effective safety communication.
This includes interactive communication allowing the communication to flow both ways, you will speak about workplace safety and listen to employees concerns and suggestions taking these into account.
Then there is informative communication, which will tell employees exactly what they need to know in order to work safely and effectively under all types of working conditions.
You could also use positive communication methods, this type of communication focuses on employees and employers exchanging ideas and/or information in the regard of workplace safety and how it can be improved to prevent illnesses, accidents and further problems.
Finally, you can also use productive communication, which allows you to interact more successfully with employees, spreading your messages about safety and the importance of it. So that everyone who needs to hear the relevant information does.
Workplace safety is absolutely vital, and communicating the importance of it is just as important. All staff need to be aware of all the procedures in place, and the reasons why and what they are there to prevent.
11. Update Health And Safety Policies When Necessary
Ensure that you are updating your health and safety policies on a regular basis, not just when something happens. Regular updates prevent accidents from happening.
It is vital to keep updating your health and safety policies with time as it is vital to the safety of the workplace.
Policies should be written based on current workplace regulations as well as findings made from risk assessments in the workplace.
While workplace risks are subject to change, all policies should be updated on a regular basis to reflect this. You need to ensure that workplace health and safety policies are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are relevant and do not need updating further.
You should perform a review of your health and safety procedures at least once each year. While you can choose to review them even more regularly if necessary.
Policies also need to be reviewed if changes are made to your workplaces’ environment as well. If any new processes are adopted for example, or if the amount of people working were to change, or if new equipment is introduced into the workplace.
Viewing policies may often require you to update your policies, but the process of doing so is simply for you to check that your current health and safety policies are still relevant, and if not what changes are needed.
12. Clarify And Define Safety Responsibilities
Employers are the most responsible for health and safety in the workplace. They are responsible for the health and safety of employees, as well as visitors such as customers, public, and suppliers.
As well as this, employers are also responsible with keeping staff members up to date and well informed about each employee’s own responsibilities when it comes to health and safety management.
They need to ensure that they are providing adequate training and information regarding health and safety procedures and why they are in place.
Employers also need to conduct risk assessments, and provide a duty of care to staff members. It is also both employee and employer responsibility to report injuries, any illness or disease and other risk factors inside the workplace.
Each employee will also have their own set of responsibilities which are to be conducted in order to ensure that the workplace remains to be a safe environment for all employees, and others alike.
Depending on the workplace, staff will have different responsibilities, and different job roles will also. A cleaner is responsible for hygiene and ensuring surfaces are clean and free of any hazards.
Catering staff are responsible for food and hygiene and dietary health, whereas an electrician is responsible for ensuring all electrical equipment is safe and there is no hazard of electrical fires or electrocution.
13. Allow Easy Access To Safety Information
Whenever you implement new policies, ensure that they are easily accessible to the employees of the establishment. One way to do this would be to have hand-out booklets, or even a regular email that has all the information inside.
Draw up a list of very important safety information, but do not stop there. It is only useful if all employees have easy and consistent access to it.
Ensure that the information provided to your employees is clear and easy for them to gain access too.
If you are managing or working in a multilingual or bi-lingual setting, ensure that the information is available to all employees in a language which they will clearly understand.
You should also provide information required in the appropriate ways to any employees who are hard of hearing, with who have a visual impairment.
The importation should also be simple and clear, instructions should not be over complicated as to make things difficult for employees. Simple diagrams, bullet points, and step-by-step instructions are more than enough to ensure your employees understand how to maintain safety.
This also stands for how to act in emergency situations, and what procedures are in place for certain circumstances. Consider providing staff with maps of areas of the workplace that have defibrillators, first aid kits, fire safety equipment and emergency exits.
14. Use Correct Tools And Equipment When Necessary
Ensure that the right tools and equipment are used at all times. The right equipment is extremely important for the safe conduct of procedures.
If you were working in an office, or at a desk job, having an ergonomic chair can stave off back pain and prevent related health conditions. Having an ergonomic keyboard can help to improve posture and prevent hand, back, and wrist problems as a result.
Having a desk chair at the right height is also important, and can prevent other musculoskeletal problems from developing.
In more physical working environments having proper work shoes is important, and having hard hats where needed, high visibility clothing, and having optimized clothing in hazardous environments is key.
All of this equipment should be provided by the employer to the staff member to ensure that staff are healthy and are able to work to their optimal ability, and that the job is not putting any strain on their well being.
It is important to remember that health and safety is not just about preventing obvious, fast occurring accidents, injuries or damage to staff or clients, but that employees do not suffer for the work they do later in life as well.
Having the correct tools for a job should also include things such as safe and proper equipment for working at heights, working in confined spaces, or in areas with hazardous materials.
15. Promote Openness And Inclusivity
You should always be championing your team, promoting inclusiveness and openness of your team. Make sure that your team feels comfortable and supported in their personal development and professional development.
Remember, workplace health and safety is not just about implementing procedures, but also in the spirit and communication in the team.
Managers can implement systems and procedures to help team members feel supported, and also allow team members in all areas of the workplace to share their concerns and their thoughts on aspects of the workplace in an open form of communication.
Managers should be considering rewards for good work and hard work, and should encourage and give plenty of credit for good, excellent and consistent working behavior to keep up company morale and prevent staff from stagnating.
A happy workplace is a safer workplace. When workers are enthused and enjoying their work they will be more likely to be more vigilant and communicate more effectively about issues or concerns they have.
Workers should feel safe to communicate things with their superiors about issues in the workplace and how the company can better itself.
Encourage a cleaner flow of communication and provide a safe space for employees to go should they need assistance.
At a first glance, health and safety seems like a really black and white concept, however, this is far from the truth. Health and safety in the workplace is encompassed by physical health, mental health, comfort, and the control of hazards.
Workplace safety begins with management and employers and trickles down to the employees in responsibilities and hazard management. However, it is up to managers and employers to keep employees trained and well-informed about the procedures in place.
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