In 2020, the total cost of serious workplace injuries had reached $59 billion per year, or over $1 billion per week, according to the Workplace Safety Index. The common causes of these incidents include improper handling of hazardous materials, failure to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), stress, musculoskeletal issues, fatigue, dehydration, and poor lighting, among others. The vast majority of these workplace injuries could be prevented through proactive and thoughtful risk control measures.
The inconveniences and financial impact of workplace injuries made them one of the top priorities for employers across the globe. In every workplace accident, the cost paid by companies could have proceeded to other essential expenses that improve employee safety, workplace health, and the business’ bottom line.
There are plenty of workplace initiatives to improve employee safety. For example, manufacturing companies that involve the use of high-risk machinery provide employees with protective gear, such as gloves, eye protection, and safety boots. Meanwhile, drug manufacturers invest in pharmaceutical flooring systems to ensure purity and safety standards.
One of the most important parts of managing a business is the proper management of workplace health and safety. Governments and labor groups require organizations to establish policies and programs to ensure the prevention of work-related incidents, injuries, and diseases. To ensure the proper management of employee health and safety, we’ll discuss some of the best practices for maintaining a safe work environment.
Determine potential safety hazards
Before drafting a workplace safety plan, you need to identify and understand all possible sources of workplace hazards. Knowing the safety issues and hazards is the initial step towards protecting workplace staff.
The common hazards depend on the industry you’re in or the company you’re operating. Injuries differ dramatically depending on the type of work involved and equipment used. For example, workers in heavy manufacturing are prone to overexertion, repetitive stress injuries, and machine-related injuries. In agriculture, common injuries include falls, back injuries, and toxic exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.
Draft workplace safety policies
After identifying all potential workplace risks, the next step is to draft safety procedures and policies. A safe workplace begins with staff who observe safety requirements and accomplish their tasks according to the official safety procedures. As the employer, it is your responsibility to identify workplace hazards and take proper steps to minimize or eliminate them. In this case, you need to draft a workplace safety plan.
Most companies provide a safety manual that serves as a reference whenever employees need additional information in carrying out tasks or operating complex machinery. Use the safety manual to communicate to your employees how you will protect their health and safety and your expectations.
A safety program is useless if it’s not properly communicated to the workers. Employees have to be involved so that they can help you minimize the health and safety risks in the workplace.
Having complete safety materials isn’t enough if employees don’t read and implement them. In this case, it’s your job as the employee to remind people continuously about the importance of observing safety procedures. In observance of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act (OSHA), employees have to follow the rules, regulations, and standards established by the company.
Establish a culture of safety
The key to building a positive employee experience is to ensure leaders, managers, and employees are on the same page. This means their values need to align with your efforts to establish an employee-centric workplace that fosters a culture of safety.
The challenge lies in how you build transparent and open workplace communication. Besides providing safety training and policies, employers need to ingrain new work behaviors to ensure everyone is on board. You can do this by sharing inspiring safety scenarios, communicating updates in the safety policies, and sharing the organization’s success.
Investigate the workplace and previous accidents
To ensure everyone abides with the safety policies, you have to assign a safety representative to monitor and inspect daily operations. Their job is to check all tools and equipment to ensure they’re safe to use and well-maintained. They will also see if employees are performing their jobs according to safety standards and wearing proper safety gear.
In times of accidents or near misses, the safety staff will ensure they are properly investigated and documented. Even if the incident doesn’t yield serious injuries, they have to investigate the problem and recommend proper measures to avoid potential risks in the future.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to protect employees’ health and safety. When building a successful business, workplace safety is just as important as customer service, financial management, and inventory control. Maintaining a strong commitment to employee welfare makes good business sense, as it’s one of the best ways to protect your significant resource—your people.