With safety becoming a top priority for employers around the world, many leaders and HR managers are looking for ideas to promote greater safety in the workplace. But first, let’s understand the scope of the term workplace safety.
The US Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration succinctly defines the purpose of workplace safety programmes as preventing “workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers”. By this definition, threats to workplace safety can range from non-compliance with legally-mandated standards in office or factory settings, to poor housekeeping and hygiene (especially risky during situations like the COVID-19 pandemic) and condoning of verbal violence such as bullying or abuse in the workplace.
Another example of a safety violation is giving employees unfairly low compensation or sub-standard health insurance coverage, which makes them and their families feel unsafe.
However, there are many ideas to promote safety in the workplace – from better infrastructure for workers to providing adequate company-paid healthcare. Taking care of safety concerns doesn’t just save lives and build employee trust and loyalty; it is also more financially prudent for employers. So let’s get into the steps.
10 ideas to promote safety in the workplace
Get experts to audit risks
To mitigate safety risks, you must first understand and map the hazards your people face. A good first step is to undertake a safety audit through an expert auditor or agency. This will tell you whether your policies and procedures are compliant with safety standards and where the gaps lie: whether it is in the physical environment, the equipment provided to people, material handling practices, your work culture, compensation and benefits standards, or something else.
Click here to get started with an emotional health audit for your team.
Create a resource centre
Another idea to promote safety at work is to build a resource centre that employees can access anytime they want help to understand or seek clarifications about safety behaviours. The resource centre can be a room or an easily accessible online drive, app, or a link containing manuals, videos, courses (online module-based lessons) on safety. This acts as a go-to location during crisis situations. To make sure employees use this resource center, conduct drills or games (such as quizzes) on safety and provide answers in the guides.
Provide tools to access safety-related information readily
While it is important to have an easily accessible resource centre where employees can avail all the safety-related information, it is equally important to make that data available in formats which are convenient for your employees.
Videos can be great as knowledge-refresher tools, but they are time-consuming and counterproductive when it comes to accessing information in an emergency. For those situations, a handy booklet, either in physical or digital format and marked with core terminologies, can be useful. Safety apps for employees with a clean user interface and functions like voice-enabled search can also save time in critical situations.
Reward people to reinforce safety
Employees can be rewarded for completing training modules. If you’re planning to get them trained through an app, including badges or rewards into the programme can really boost performance. Rewards don’t have to be expensive; e-vouchers, gift cards, e-badges, tags or virtual awards displayed on their profiles can also act as great motivators.
Provide regular refresher courses
Keep repeating safety-related courses at certain intervals to keep the lessons fresh in people’s memory. The frequency of these refresher courses will depend on the topic itself. But on average you can organise classes on safety every quarter or six months to ensure that the important information is retained. And make sure that all employees, whether full-time or part-time, are included. In certain cases you might even want to involve vendors or other partners that your employees interact with regularly.
Try Manah's free emotional wellbeing assessment now!
Encourage employees to conduct live demonstrations
Training and live demonstrations of safety in the workplace are of utmost importance. Merely consuming content as a spectator has very little benefit, unless it is practiced. To be effective, these live demonstrations should be led by employees; this creates accountability, makes employees more vigilant, and encourages them to repeatedly refer to the safety literature.
Conduct regular safety checks
One cannot stress enough the need for regular quality and health inspections. Faulty and outdated equipment are as responsible for accidents as poor employee health and overexertion at work. Inspections are not only important to make sure the workplace is safe but also to emphasise the importance of safety and caution when large numbers of people are involved. Regular inspections remind employees to be mindful of their surroundings and make them more vigilant, which is why they are a good idea for improving workplace safety.
Take a look at these budget-friendly ways to improve the wellbeing of your employees.
Provide safety equipment and resources
Even a little bit of negligence can lead to serious injuries in the workplace and putting many people at risk. This is particularly true in manufacturing or any industry where hazardous chemicals or materials are handled, but general safety equipment for fire-fighting or resources for personal safety (e.g., armed guards) are required in a wide range of sectors.
Hence, provide your employees with the best equipment and resources. Also seek the employees’ feedback on how well these measures are working and what more can be done.
From employees to team leaders and top management, everyone should be held accountable for safety in the workplace. Communicate these expectations openly and clearly. Having open discussions across hierarchies and functions about safety is also important.
Recruit occupational clinicians
Did you know that occupational clinicians can help reduce risk at the workplace and increase safety? Occupational clinicians provide a range of services – from treating work-related injuries and providing tele-consultation to conducting physical examinations (back-to-work, new-to-work check-ups), and tests and screenings to ensure employees are fit to work. This safeguards your employees from working when they are physically unfit.
Occupational clinicians can also help you create a healthy and safe workplace environment by setting mandatory health and safety guidelines.
Conduct regular mental wellbeing checks
While you are considering the option of getting your office inspected for equipment and other safety-related concerns, you also should ensure your employees are not overworking and have stable and good emotional health. For this, it is essential to conduct emotional wellbeing assessments from time to time, as this will give you a clear picture of the health of your people and what you need to do in order to promote better workplace mental health.
Check out this blog that lists the common signs of poor mental health in the workplace.
We hope these ideas to improve safety in the workplace help you build a safe environment for yourself and your employees. For more such content, keep following Manah Wellness’s blog.