There are innumerable benefits to maintaining a safer workplace, from happier and healthier workers to reduced costs and lower liability risks. But if you want your workplace to be as safe and effective as possible, you need to create a fundamental architecture that encourages and rewards safety.
It requires investment. It requires proactive work. But the downstream benefits are more than worth it.
Key Strategies for Workplace Safety
These are some of the most important strategies for workplace safety:
- Create a culture of safety. One of your biggest priorities should be creating a culture of safety. If everyone in your organization understands the importance of safety and plays a role in cultivating safety for everyone else, there will be far fewer incidents in your workplace. Safety needs to be one of your core values, and you need to selectively hire people who are capable of making safety the top priority. If no one on your team takes safety seriously, it doesn’t really matter what rules you have in place.
- Get your employees actively involved. Make sure your employees are actively involved in workplace safety and development, from testing safety equipment to enforcing safety rules independently. This is one way of reinforcing your culture of safety, and it’s also a way of making employees feel more engaged and autonomous within that safety culture. It can help educate them while simultaneously building them into the safety architecture of your organization.
- Instill safety-conscious leaders. In most organizations, habits and priorities flow from the top down. In other words, workers tend to mimic or at least take inspiration from their leaders. If you instill leaders who are safety-conscious, you’ll be much more likely to develop an entire team that takes safety seriously.
- Reduce or remove hazards as a first line of defense. In the hierarchy of controls, your first line of defense is elimination; in other words, you should work to remove or reduce hazards in the workplace environment. After that, you should focus on replacing the hazard, isolating people from the hazard, and changing the way people work. Only after taking these measures should, you focus on protecting people with personal protective equipment (PPE), (though that’s still quite important).
- Go above and beyond the legal standards. OSHA has clear standards for workplace safety, across a variety of industries. It goes without saying that you need to follow these laws if you want to avoid legal trouble. But if you truly care about workplace safety, there are instances where it makes sense to go above and beyond those legal standards. Don’t just do the bare minimum if you want to reduce the risk of incidents to an absolute minimum.
- Provide proper training and education. Workers are only as good as the training they receive. This goes for practicing safety standards as well as being productive in a traditional environment. Make sure to provide proper training and education to all your employees – especially new hires who aren’t yet familiar with your safety standards.
- Offer the right equipment. Providing your employees with properly fitted PPE is another measure that, when executed consistently, can dramatically reduce the risk of harm in your workplace. Make employees feel comfortable pointing out any shortages, bad fits, or missing items.
- Use signs as reminders. Education and training are important, but in the middle of a workday, it’s sometimes easy to forget those important principles. That’s why it’s valuable to use posted signs as reminders for proper procedures, safety rules, hazardous areas, and more.
- Create an atmosphere of accountability. If you want your safety policies to flourish, create an atmosphere of accountability. That means making sure that everyone on your team feels a sense of responsibility for helping to maintain and follow best practices for a safe environment. It also means making people feel empowered to report safety violations, document incidents, and take action when any safety measure isn’t being properly followed.
- Formally document and review deviations from safety policies. Whenever there’s a deviation from a safety policy, and especially when there’s an accident in the workplace, formally document it and review it so you can take corrective action. That might mean disciplinary action for the offending parties, changes to the workplace environment, or retraining for the entire team. Consistent documentation is key in demonstrating your efforts and driving meaningful improvements.
The Value of a Safer Workplace
With a safer workplace established, your workers will be healthier and happier, you’ll have fewer incidents to report, you’ll save money, and your company will eventually cultivate a much better reputation. Even better, once you establish the fundamental architecture of safety in your organization, all you’ll have to do from then is maintain it.