Using those guidelines as a framework to craft your company’s safety standards is a great place to start.
However, if you completely base your approach to workplace safety on government mandates, you’re not doing your employees any favors. Instead of viewing safety solely as a matter of compliance, and in order to fully protect employees from potential occupational hazards, companies should consider the unique conditions of their working environment and customize their safety practices, policies and training accordingly.
While customizing workplace training for a small office environment may come easily, the challenge is more pronounced for large organizations. Companies employing hundreds or even thousands of individuals must address different departments, different job responsibilities and different working conditions. The following five tips will help as you focus your efforts to create a safe and healthy workplace for your employees:
Within a large group, trying to generate a consensus on any matter can pose a challenge. Therefore, when dealing with a large organization, it’s wise to start broadly and develop basic goals related to safety that are difficult to object to. For example, in an industrial workplace, everyone would agree that proper use of dangerous machinery is prudent. Therefore, begin with that concept as a strategic goal and customize a route for achieving that goal that accounts for the specific challenges posed by your working environment.
Information related to workplace safety often seems dry and boring, and the way many companies disseminate that information to employees is ineffective. For example, giving a lengthy safety manual to an employee on his first day of work and expecting him to immediately absorb its contents is unrealistic and ill-advised. Similarly, conducting marathon, day-long safety training sessions that cover a multitude of different topics will leave employees feeling overwhelmed. As a result, important information is often lost.
A better approach is to carefully craft employee safety training in an organized, easy to comprehend manner. For instance, take a specific piece of the training manual and conduct a hands-on training event (not a lecture), complete with demonstrations and interactive discussions. Covering a single topic during a shorter training session is much easier for employees to absorb. To be truly effective, these sessions should clearly demonstrate the context of how the safety issues fit into the larger workplace framework.
Employees who suspect that their supervisors are not focused on their safety and wellbeing will be less likely to take pride in their jobs, and productivity will decline. Unchecked rebellious rumblings in any workplace can be catastrophic for production, efficiency and worker safety.
In contrast, employees who feel respected and protected are more likely to work efficiently and to abide by employer-enforced safety procedures. Companies should take great care to convey their interest in employee safety and satisfaction when designing a comprehensive safety plan. One way to do that is by turning what’s often a boring, mundane lectures about safety issues into thoughtful, engaging discussions. Infusing humor, encouraging employee participation and generally adopting a more hands-on approach will help enliven safety training.
Providing an annual review of safety information for employees, while well intended, won’t create results. If management discusses workplace safety infrequently, employees who are consumed with their day-to-day responsibilities will likely forget important information and revert to bad habits. Therefore, employers should routinely emphasize workplace safety. Requiring attendance at frequent official training sessions is a good start. An even better strategy is to regularly observe employee performance and to provide detailed, constructive feedback. Focusing on mistakes and areas that need improvement is imperative, but it’s also a good idea to recognize and reinforce good performance.
Some large companies may have the luxury of employing individuals whose sole responsibility is workplace safety. However, those individuals can’t be everywhere at once. As a result, supervisors should encourage employees to voice concerns about unsafe conditions. Fostering the sense that “we’re all in this together” will undoubtedly lead to a safer, more secure working environment.
Making employee safety a priority will have many positive effects. First, it cultivates an atmosphere in which employees feel respected and valued, thus creating motivation for the staff to succeed. That alone has huge potential business benefits. In addition, studies suggest that a proactive (rather than mere reactive) approach to workplace safety dramatically reduces accidents. On-the-job injuries impact affected employees and their families, but they also are detrimental to employers in many ways. This makes a customized, organized safety plan a sound strategy.
At www.safetyservicescompany.com, Jay Acker’s editorial group makes materials for conducting weekly safety meetings, safety training programs, posters and other items.