Over 5,200 workers died on the job in 2018. Nearly all of these deaths were preventable.
There are so many workplace safety hazards in the average job that many employees and employers don’t recognize until it’s too late.
Even if you’re working in a “safe” field or location, things can easily go wrong and end in an injury, or worse, death. It’s important to educate your team about workplace safety frequently.
Identifying hazards in the workplace and addressing them isn’t difficult, but it requires effort. It’s your responsibility as an employer to ensure the safety of your employees to the best of your ability.
Keep reading to learn about workplace safety and to get a few tips on how to properly train your employees to work safely.
Why Is Workplace Safety Necessary?
Ensuring proper workplace safety helps everyone that has some connection to your business. You might think that workplace safety is only for the employees (and that is the bulk of the importance) but this isn’t the case.
To start, workplace safety does in fact help employees, but not just by protecting their lives and wellbeing. Employees that work in a safe environment are going to be happier and more comfortable. A happy employee is one that’s more likely to come to work ready and willing for the job at hand.
Workplace safety also helps your customers. Unhappy employees don’t often provide good service because their needs aren’t being met. Your customers will be better served by safe employees.
Workplace safety hazards that can impact your employees may also be able to harm your customers. A customer that doesn’t feel safe (or worse, one who gets hurt at your business) isn’t likely to return to you.
You as the employer also benefit from workplace safety. Aside from just having safer customers, employee retention is crucial for a business. It costs more to replace an employee than it does to keep one.
If you don’t have good worker’s compensation insurance you may also be paying a lot of money to injured workers.
Overall, workplace safety helps you, your customers, and your employees.
Who Needs Workplace Safety?
It’s a common misconception that only “dangerous” jobs require workplace safety training. While they may need it more, they are not alone.
All jobs require workplace safety. There are workplace safety hazards in nearly every position. OSHA makes it easy to set up a plan for workplace safety so you can kickstart your safety plan.
Your business may not be outwardly dangerous but look at all of the things around the workplace that could potentially cause harm. Spills, loose wires, tangled cords, and other relatively benign objects could be accidents waiting to happen.
Always assume the worst and train from there. You may know that these accidents are unlikely, but it only takes one person to cause a disaster.
How Can I Help?
There are plenty of ways that you can help to encourage and facilitate workplace safety in your business. It’s your responsibility as an employer to provide a safe workplace but your employees can be in on the effort.
Here are a few tips for keeping your workplace safe.
Regular Workplace Safety Training and Education
Keeping your employees safe requires education and regular check-ins. You can do some of this training on your own using training kits or workplace safety data sheets online, or you can get a professional to come in and train your employees.
While professional training may be good once per year, checking in with your own training refreshers is important. Employees have a lot to remember, so it never hurts to provide smaller training sessions during the year especially if something changes in your workplace.
Many workplace safety hazards arise from messy workstations. It’s normal to make a bit of a mess at work, but encouraging employees to clean up regularly can help prevent falls or injuries from clutter, slippery spills, and things being on the floor when they shouldn’t be.
Make all employees responsible for their individual spaces and delegate tasks for community spaces. It’s also beneficial to keep garbage cans within reach for every employee so that they’re more likely to throw things away immediately.
Keep Everyone Accountable
It’s important to encourage accountability. This will both strengthen the community of your employees as they have to work together to create a safer space, but it will also help boost employee responsibility.
If it’s made clear that employees are partially responsible for keeping a space clean in the effort to make it safer, they may be more likely to actively participate in these safety efforts.
Encourage employees to work as a group to keep each other accountable and delegate individual tasks as needed.
Follow Your Own Rules
As an employer, it’s easy to skirt the rules that you made for your employees from time to time. When it comes to workplace safety, though, it’s in your best interest to act as you want them to act.
When establishing new rules and guidelines, make sure that you’re also participating. This will help protect employee morale and give them a good model for what they’re supposed to be doing.
Following your own guidelines also keeps you safe, so everyone benefits here.
Workplace Safety Hazards Are Avoidable
It doesn’t take long for a “safe” workplace to turn into a disaster zone from only one accident.
Teaching your employees how to manage and avoid workplace safety hazards is crucial for their protection and the overall wellbeing of your company. You’ll save money, retain employees, and have happier customers.
Even if you work in an office, a daycare, a photography studio, or another “safe” space, briefing your employees on proper workplace safety habits is important. While major accidents are unlikely, it only takes one.
“Any business person worth their salt will have an in-depth knowledge of health and safety policy and practice,” says David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, “This is because health and safety is not only an end in itself, it is a means to an end towards a more efficient business that has an improved bottom line and greater brand loyalty amongst consumers.”