Injuries on the job occur every 7 seconds.
We don’t know how many of these were preventable, but we can assume a good amount of them were.
While safety is a personal responsibility, the failure to be safe could fall on you as a business owner. Plus, injury means the people you value suffer due to potentially avoidable actions.
If you want to protect your best assets, read and implement these 12 workplace safety tips.
1. Create Workplace Safety Guidelines and Enforce Them
Safety isn’t an option — it’s a rule.
When creating safety guidelines, consult local and federal laws in your industry. Understand the legal consequences if you fail to keep the environment safe.
Additionally, involve your employees in the creation of safety planning. They have a different angle on things and can provide valuable information. Plus, you need their help finding the best way to articulate policies clearly and straightforwardly.
A few things to consider are dress code, equipment use, sobriety, and required training.
To consolidate your safety procedures, consider using an external resource. This service makes it easy to create, document, and manage job safety analysis worksheets.
2. Educate and Train Everyone
Once you’ve established rules and protocols, educate and train all your employees. They should know safety procedures, proper mechanics, and how to report issues.
Make training thorough and engaging. You don’t want people nodding off and missing something crucial.
Perhaps you can add incentives to the process to maintain attention. If you do group training, this may mean offering small rewards to people who answer questions throughout the training.
If there’s additional training required for the job, such as licenses, double check to make sure every employee has correct credentials. Don’t hire people who say they will get the licenses — hire people who have them.
3. Keep Communication Flowing
Employees should feel comfortable approaching you about anything.
Don’t belittle anybody for asking “stupid questions”. Even if it is a stupid question, the employee might not feel comfortable approaching you in serious circumstances.
Maintaining strong communication with your employees keeps workplace harmony and creates space for them to report unsafe work conditions.
To build stronger communication, engage in active listening. Ask your employees for feedback and seek their opinions without interrupting.
4. Update and Re-Educate Regularly
Nothing stays the same forever. Neither should your safety plans and training.
Rather than treating safety education as a one-time thing, plan recurring education training. People tend to get comfortable in their jobs over time. This may lead to the creation of shortcuts, which can increase risk and decrease the quality of productivity.
Plus, new standards and information may come about with new research. An example of this is with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) changed the order of CPR steps to reflect new information.
This shows how updating safety procedures can save lives.
Stay current on trends in your industry to know the best procedures to follow. Update your documents regularly to reflect the best practices and re-educate your employees regularly.
5. Provide Safety Equipment
There are equipment and supplies for every job to make the environment safer, even if the job is relatively safe.
This can range from floor mats to sturdy ladders. Assess the work environment to figure out how you can make it as safe as possible.
For instance, if there are items raised above employees heads, consider guards on the shelves or netting in case the items move.
If needed, check out other businesses in your industry to get a feel for how others do it. However, don’t rely on other businesses alone, as they may not be up to standard.
6. Provide PPE
PPE is personal protective equipment. This is the gear an individual wears to keep themselves safe.
Required PPE depends on the job at hand. The phrase “you’d rather be safe than sorry” applies here. Go the full 9 yards in the department of PPE.
You can break down PPE based on these categories:
- Eye protection
- Foot protection
- Hand protection
- Head protection
- Hearing protection
- Respiratory protection
- Skin protection
- Special PPE (such as chemical protection)
It’s not only a good idea — it’s a legal requirement by OSHA.
7. Keep a Clean, Organized Work Space
There should be a home for all supplies and every piece of equipment. Leaving things out creates a tripping hazard, or worse.
Require your employees to follow cleanliness and organization procedures. Make it easy to do so by labeling where things should go, designating time to clean up, and reminding them if you notice they’re being messy.
This is especially important if the job requires tools and machinery. In addition to making sure everything is in its place, you should schedule regular tool and machinery maintenance. You don’t want equipment to default due to lack of upkeep.
It may be beneficial to hire a professional cleaner to occasionally clean the workplace. This may keep the space from getting dusty, growing mold, or retaining dirt.
8. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This goes for employees and employers.
Most safety literature includes this aspect, as paying attention prevents many workplace injuries. On the side of the employer, being aware of your surroundings allows you to notice potential hazards.
Before anyone starts a job, you should analyze the surroundings for potential risks. Then, you can provide warning signs and include these hazards in your training.
If there’s a certain area in the surroundings that seems to be especially dangerous, consider closing that area off to your employees completely. This may be a sinkhole behind the offices or a broken elevator shaft.
9. Encourage Frequent Breaks
The phrase “time is money” may prove true in some ways but certainly not in others.
New studies show humans move from full efficiency to physiological fatigue every 90 minutes. Although this is different from the legal requirement of a 10-minute break for every 4 hours, it’s well worth it to implement.
Think about it. Taking breaks reduces stress and fatigue. It provides employees an opportunity to cool down (internally and externally) and rehydrate.
Mild dehydration can impair cognitive performance significantly, so it’s worth encouraging and making time for.
If breaks aren’t given, this stress and fatigue can cause simple mistakes and serious injury. When people become tired, they are less likely to be aware of their surroundings and are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior.
Plus, frequent resets allow your employees to work more efficiently and to be happier doing it.
10. Keep Emergency Exits Clear
Emergency exits should be clear and accessible, among other legal requirements.
You should provide exists for people with disabilities as well.
If you keep your workspace clean and organized as mentioned in #7, you won’t have to focus on this precaution as often.
11. Have Emergency Management Plans
You can’t control everything. Emergencies can happen and everyone should prepare for them.
There are large amounts of free resources for business to use to develop emergency plans. Don’t develop plans based on what you think would be the best reaction to a situation, especially if you haven’t experienced it. Use resources to create a logical plan to save lives, if it comes to it.
All businesses should have fire plans. This includes what to do if there’s a fire, where the extinguishers are, and which exit to use. You and your employees should know this information.
Depending on your geographical location, you may also want to create other emergency plans, such as flood or earthquake plans.
Non-dependant on your location, you should invest in first-aid training. Almost 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when a bystander administered CPR. If you think about it, everybody should have first-aid training.
It’s a simple way to reduce serious outcomes of accidents and emergencies.
12. Keep the Work Environment Safe
The main tip is to keep the work environment safe, in every shape and form. Take any and every precaution you can, from removing the risk to preventing it.
It’s the moral thing to do. And, again, it’s your legal obligation. If you fail to provide a safe work environment, you are at risk of being legally responsible if something happens.
In addition to getting sued, you may have to bear having a heavy conscious, for you didn’t prevent something that you could have prevented.
Be Smart and Cautious
If you’re concerned you won’t think of everything when creating your plan, consult experts. This could mean using online resources or calling government agencies.
Either way, do everything you can to ensure your workplace safety is up to par. Create the plan, communicate the plan, and enforce the plan.
If your employees don’t follow your rules, don’t be afraid to let them go, as they are a liability to you and a danger to others.