5 Tips to Build a Safe Workplace Environment
Unless you’re operating a construction company or other high-risk field, it’s unlikely that safety is at the forefront of your mind as you get your business off the ground. Nonetheless, an emphasis on safety should always be an underlying factor in your decision making process as you found and grow your company.
Nothing can derail a start-up (or an established business) faster than a major accident. From the legal impact to the emotional ramifications, it’s far better to take proactive steps toward protecting yourself, employees, and clients at your workplace.
Even relatively benign office environments require safety considerations. A slip on a staircase or a back strain from moving the copy machine could result in a lawsuit. Repetitive motion injuries from long hours at work stations can reduce productivity and morale, costing the company money and reputation clout.
To ensure that your business carries an underlying attitude of safety and care for employee well-being, pay attention to these tips that can apply to any type of company:
- Make Safety Materials Visible
A company safety manual is typically part of the paperwork handed over to new hires when they accept the job. Although this meets some bare minimum legal requirements, the day a new employee begins work is also an excellent opportunity to let them know the company cares about their health and safety. Point out the potential hazards, even if they’re as simple as ‘watch out for wet floors when the bathrooms are cleaned on Wednesdays.’
Ensure your manual details protocol for handling injuries and accidents, and stick to that if something happens. Finally, posters and visible safety material can both help protect employees and be a legal asset to the company.
A poster in the break room that simply reminds employees to stretch throughout the day can be effective.
- Conduct Regular Training
Safety training can conjure images of drawn-out Powerpoint presentations and snooze-worthy lectures. For training that does require a presentation and discussion, consider going outside or hosting the talk over a catered lunch.
Focus on real scenarios — fire, earthquakes, electrocution — and discuss how the office would handle these emergencies together.
Finally, consider hosting an occasional program about avoiding back, wrist, and elbow pain from working at a desk all day. Even bringing in a masseuse for 15-minute chair massages can be a wise investment, inspiriting employees and making them feel cared for by the company.
- Develop a Chain of Command for Reporting Possible Issues
Oftentimes, employees notice potential hazards but fail to speak up because it’s not their problem or they don’t want to stir up trouble. By focusing on safety in company literature and in employee meetings, it’s possible to turn employees into watchdogs.
Too many appliances or computers plugged into one outlet could cause it to overheat and catch fire. An extension cord draped across a walkway can be a trip hazard that sends someone to the hospital. Make sure that your supervisors and managers are constantly looking out for safety hazards, and that employees feel comfortable pointing out any potential concerns.
This goes for personnel conflicts, as well. Unfortunately, fistfights do break out in work environments, and the harm inflicted can cost the company dearly. Employees should feel comfortable going to their superiors about an issue with a coworker, before tensions boil over.
- Keep Safety Items on Hand
It’s important that your office be prepared to deal with emergencies quickly and correctly. Keep fire extinguishers mounted by each exit and in any kitchens, supply closets, and server rooms.
Each area of your physical building (and all company vehicles) should have first aid kits on hand, stocked with bandages, tweezers, alcohol, antibiotic ointment, and hot and cold packs. Put it on your calendar to check and restock these every three months. The ability to stabilize a cut or burn victim until an ambulance arrives can literally save their life.
- Show That You Care
Signs and manuals are wise to have and are often a legal requirement, but the secret to creating a safe workplace is to truly care, and convey that in outreach to employees. Monthly company newsletters can include a section about improving personal health. When buying new desks and chairs, review options with added back support. Consider giving employees the option of a standing desk, a popular new alternative that can reduce back pain and increase productivity.
Finally, give your employees the responsibility to put their health in their own hands. If they feel that a task (for example, carrying a box of copy paper from the storage room to the copy machine) could overexert them, make sure they’re comfortable asking for help.
When employees feel like their health is important to the company, they respond with actions that keep the company safe, improving your bottom line along the way.
Author Credits ::
Jay Acker leads a production team at safetyservicescompany.com that creates safety training materials. SSC offers contractor certification assistance for ISNetworld®, PICS®, and other contractor verification servicers.