The workplace is like a second home. Work is a valued and intrinsic part of our being. People spend a good chunk of their waking hours in the workplace.
A survey by CIPD indicates that almost one in five UK workers are overworked. The average employee works five hours a week more than they would like.
The survey shows that 74% of UK workers are on a permanent contract while 19% are self-employed.
There has been a slow erosion of boundaries between work and personal life.
Workplaces are evolving. They are packed with creature comforts and thus more desirable to employers.
Think of a workplace that provides you with:
- Free meals.
- Garden space.
- On-site gyms and spas.
- Outdoor patios.
- In house clinics.
- Play areas and other helpful facilities.
Workplace safety is essential. This responsibility falls on the business owner.
As this article explains, the employer should protect their employees’ health and safety at the workplace. As an employer, you must:
- Control any risk of injury or health in the workplace.
- Carry out risk assessments to address possible risks.
- Share information on risks and train employees on risk management.
- Consult employees on health and safety issues.
Following are 10 vital steps to making your workplace safer for employees.
1. Set up a Great Safety Culture
What are some of the safety measures already in place at your organization?
It is great if you already have safety guidelines in place, but there is always room for improvement. How about turning the conversation up a notch?
Creating a good workplace culture involves constant engagement with your employees.
Keep safety discussions open. Offer safety training and regularly survey the workplace for any potential safety hazards.
You cannot win alone!
By giving a voice to your employees, you have an unwavering support system. They will reach out to you with their safety concerns and will point you to areas that need improvement.
2. Train Your Employees on Safety
A workforce without safety training is like an army without defence.
To improve safety levels, employees must undergo comprehensive training on safety protocols.
Some of the important training areas include:
- First aid
- Fire safety
- Emergency drills
Additionally, employees should have access to training materials. Every new employee should receive training before taking up a new role. As the employer, you should also provide safety tools such as first aid kits.
3. Look out for Potential Hazards
Danger is always lurking in a busy workplace. If you are not keen enough to identify and mitigate potential hazards, you may be caught with a real problem on your hands.
Look out for those slippery tiles that may cause a fall. If you can’t replace them immediately, how about putting up a warning sign?
What about that machinery that may be a tripping hazard? Or that leaking roof you need to replace?
The first step towards solving potential hazards is identification. It is always easier to deal with the devil you know.
Once identified, organisations can deal with issues that may cause a threat one at a time. Start with the most serious hazards as they pose the greatest danger. Put up warnings and signs wherever necessary.
4. Involve Occupational Clinicians
You can never go wrong with an expert.
Occupational clinicians will give you useful insight into what you are doing wrong.
Let them into your workplace. They will help you identify high-risk areas in your workplace and share advice on how you can make it safer.
5. Put up Warning Signs and Labels
Safety signage is one great way to improve safety.
Think of all the accidents that have occurred because there was no sign of potential risk.
You do not want to end up guilty when an avoidable accident happens.
Once you identify all potential safety hazards, designate someone to put up the necessary signage.
Labels and signs are a good way of communicating potential hazards. Most signs include instructional features on how to keep safe.
Note: Ensure that the wording and any instructional procedures are clear enough for everyone. Even the most experienced workers need reminders at some point.
6. Encourage and Reward Safe Behaviour
The workplace is not a school and your employees are not students vying for gold stars.
Yet, it is a proven fact that even the highest-ranked employees appreciate a pat on the back once in a while.
How about using rewards to encourage workplace safety?
Reward employees who follow safety procedures. This includes wearing protective gear or taking the required breaks.
Remember that a work overload, especially when operating machinery, can lead to accidents.
Praise members of staff who adhere to safety rules. Remind those who fail and reward them the next time they follow protocol.
7. Provide Safety Tools and Equipment
This is one serious concern among many workers.
Ensure your employees have access to the right tools and equipment. Train them to avoid faults in operation.
Note: Machine malfunction is a common cause of injuries at the workplace.
Tools and equipment should be well maintained. Inspect, clean and service them regularly to ensure that they pose no risk to the workers.
8. Keep Things Clean
A messy workplace is a potential for disaster.
Empty the bins regularly and clean those spills as fast as they appear.
Have a working team in place to clean up the messes created from day to day activities.
The team is useful in helping you identify potential dangers. These include tangled cords, leaking roofs, dysfunctional equipment and messy floors.
While such a team may not be recognized, they play a very important role in any organization.
9. Encourage Work Breaks
Taking stretch breaks is an important tool in improving workplace safety.
Research indicates that taking breaks helps to ease muscle tension and loosen joints. This can reduce the risk of injuries in the workplace.
Taking that ten-minute break leaves your employees energised and ready to take on the next task.
There is so much that can be done with work breaks.
Think about offering a short yoga lesson or a few regular stretching exercises. Your employers will not only enjoy the break, but they will also be more productive.
10. Maintain an Open Dialogue on Safety
There is no end to how far we can go to make workplaces safer.
Allow employees to come to you with their safety concerns. Have open discussions on potential threats. Also, let them share their ideas on how to mitigate those dangers.
Set up a safety team who can regularly share the progress of the company, including employee concerns that you may have missed out on.
Hold regular meetings on workplace safety to review protocols and come up with safety preventative measures.
Get Started and Create a Safer Workplace for Your Employees
Now you are armed with 10 important steps that will make your workplace safer for your employees.
Having a safe workplace environment is essential in keeping your team productive. Consistently strive towards excellence in safety.
To get you started, follow the above important tips. Build on your workplace safety culture by taking the necessary protective measures. Do not forget to stock up your workplace with some important safety tools in case of emergencies.
Guest blog by Katrina McKinnon at Alsco