June is National Safety Month, and 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the NSC Safety’s Program. The goal of workplace safety is to educate and encourage safe behaviours around the leading causes of preventable injuries and death at work. This week we examine the importance of workplace safety. 

 Eye injuries cost US businesses 300 Million dollars a year, and other occupational injuries and illnesses cost over $170 billion every year. The average foot injury alone costs a whopping $9,600.

90% of these occupational injuries could have been prevented if the victim was wearing proper face and foot protection.

Organizations with employees who are at high risk of getting injured, often have structured and well-designed workplace safety strategies in place. As they are aware of the consequences of neglecting workplace safety, they understand that having a good plan can significantly improve employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. 

Let’s now take a look into some workplace safety best practices for ensuring safe working conditions:

workplace safety best practices
Identify all the workplace safety hazards

Before you even start building your workplace safety plan, it is important to define and understand all the potential sources of hazard in the workplace. 

Identifying those safety hazards and issues is the first step in protecting employees in the workplace. Some of the most common hazards often include ergonomics, hazardous chemicals, mechanical problems, noise pollution, restricted visibility, dangers of falling and weather-related hazards. 

Define safety policies and remind employees to follow them

After identifying all the possible workplace hazards, the next step is to define safety policies and procedures. Many organizations have safety handbooks that employees can use as a reference every time when in doubt. 

However, just creating such materials is not enough if your employees don’t consume and follow them. It is the employers’ job to continuously remind employees on the importance of following safety guidelines. Moreover, under OSHA regulations, employees are required to comply with the standards, rules, and regulations put in place by the employer.

 Keep employees aligned to foster the culture of safety

If you are trying to build an employee-centric workplace, ensure positive employee experience and foster a culture of safety, all your employees, including leaders and managers, need to be aligned and on the same page. Here, employers often neglect the importance of open and transparent workplace communications. 

Besides just having a clear plan and safety trainings, organizations need to find ways to embed new employee behaviours by delivering inspiring safety stories, communicating new safety programs and sharing company’s successes. 

Build a safety communication plan

Many organizations are now implementing safety communications as a core company value. This focus towards a safety-centric workplace improves not only employee morale, but also the bottom line.

In order to build a strong culture of safety in the workplace, organizations need to build safety communication plans. In other words, your workplace safety strategy will be as successful as you manage to communicate it properly. 

Safety communication plan should consist of a set of materials, important company updates, messages and other internal campaigns that need to be communicated to the right employees at the right time.

 Designate a health and safety representative

As some employees are reluctant to share their safety issues with their direct managers, some organizations appoint designated health and safety representatives. 

Build trust and be consistent

Fostering a safety-centric workplace environment begins by building trust in the workplace. Workers must be able to trust that their leaders’ number one priority is keeping their employees safe, and that they can report to them if they notice any unsafe activity.

 Help managers and employees to always stay connected 

It is important that you enable supervisors to keep employees informed about potential hazards or risks in the workplace. Managers should have the ability to create designated safety communication channels where they can share important information and communicate with their teams. 

Similarly, when employees notice a potential hazard in the workplace, they should be able to instantly reach their fellow coworkers to inform and alarm them about the hazard.   

Implement PPE Safety Programs:

Companies lack effective tools for administering safety benefits and organizing procurement of PPE. This is a complex challenge because companies, and departments within companies, structure their benefit programs in different and non-standard ways. For example, companies may require different PPE depending on an individual’s work environment; the timing and frequency of renewals may vary between employees and products required; and co-payments may be collected from employees separate from the company or even payroll deducted.

These challenges can be solved by consolidating management of safety benefits and procurement of safety equipment under one unified platform. This allows each EHS managers to control and supervise safety benefits according to its policies, and to let each employee obtain PPEs, such as prescription safety eyewear and footwear, according to their needs.

Recognize those who follow the rules and regulations

In addition to keeping employees informed, it is important to praise and recognize those who regularly do their jobs safely. This builds a more open, positive safety culture and increases the likelihood that others will embed the same behaviours. 

This culture of appreciation goes a long way when you want others to understand and support your plan. Share your employees successes and amplify positive examples, give public recognition and enable others in your organization to join the conversations. 

Source: National Safety Council, OSHA & Eyelation Inc.