Every business needs to consider safety in the workplace. It doesn’t matter whether your place of business is a small office or a factory floor, you have a responsibility to provide and enforce a workplace safety plan. Failure to do so can lead to employee injuries, damaged equipment, and loss of productivity—not to mention leaving you liable for any accidents.
The following safety steps, when applied consistently, increase workplace safety and foster a culture of safety in your employees.
Create a Workplace Safety Plan
Your first step is to identify any safety issues in the workplace. What hazards are present in your workplace, and how can you eliminate or minimize them? You’ll need to inspect the workplace carefully, looking for safety issues and creating procedures for employees to follow. It helps to take a safety audit training course beforehand.
Don’t overlook general safety issues in favor of specific problems. Ensuring employees working on the factory floor understand electrical safety is important, but so is making sure employees know where fire exits are located, how to lift heavy items without risking back injuries, and how to use the first aid kit.
Communicate with Employees
Communicate with employees as you create your safety plan—they know their jobs and may be able to offer valuable insight into workplace safety. Arranging regular safety meetings helps identify new safety issues as they develop.
Explain all safety rules and regulations to employees. Your workforce is more likely to comply with rules if they understand how rules and procedures keep them safe.
Train Your Employees
Employees should receive appropriate safety training in the workplace before being assigned tasks. This is as important for experienced employees as it is for new hires. Long-term workers may have developed their own way of doing things that may run counter to new safety procedures. All staff need to follow the same safety procedures. A staff-wide safety orientation course can remind workers of the need to think of safety as an essential part of their job duties.
New hires are in an ideal position to be taught proper safety steps, as they have no preconceptions about the workplace. Empathize potential hazards, accident prevention, and safety awareness early and often, and only allow employees to assume duties after they demonstrate a proper understanding of safety regulations.
Enforcing Safety Steps
Enforcing workplace safety procedures will occasionally be necessary. Employees may forget important safety steps, or ignore them in favor of long-held work habits. Even employees who do well with safety training in the workplace can backslide in the months after training. When this occurs employees should be reminded of proper procedures and have safety steps re-explained.
Enforcing safety in the workplace requires consistency. If the rules don’t seem to apply to one worker, other will notice, and workplace safety suffers. Everyone—from maintenance staff to executives—should be held accountable for following safety steps.
Reward Safe Behavior
Employees value recognition and praise for a job well done. Recognize employees who consistently follow workplace safety steps. Depending on your workplace, this could mean recognizing the employee at a monthly meeting or simply during a one-on-one conversation. Grooming safe employees for higher level positions makes it clear your company values workplace safety and encourages other employees to keep safety in mind.