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A safe workplace protects the health and wellbeing of employees, cuts down on worker’s compensation claims and ultimately saves the company money. It’s just about as close to an all-win situation as you can get. Fostering a sense of safety in the workplace takes more than a sign posted in the break room, though.
If you’re in charge of safety for your company, here are a few ways to help create an environment where everyone is heard and no one feels at risk.
Is your policy in place only because it’s required, or do employees really feel safe and comfortable at work?
First things first: you’ve got to have a great safety program in place, and it has to work for your company. CCOHS and OSHA have minimum standards for worker health and safety. And while all employers should meet those standards, there’s always room to go above and beyond.
CCOHS lists the following categories that can help you develop a comprehensive program for your company:
Each category has a wealth of potential issues to cover. For example, ergonomics might not seem as critical as a slip-and-fall hazard. But, according to the Oregon OSHA department, each worker’s compensation claim related to an ergonomic issue costs between $14,000 and $32,000. So, in a nutshell: stress-related injuries are injuries — just as much as cuts and broken bones are.
CCOHS explains that every company is required to have and keep posted a “written occupational health and safety policy.” And, while your policy will stress different issues from another company, it should clarify safety expectations within the company, who is responsible for enforcing them, and which corrective actions are required for an infraction.
For example, every worker should be expected to maintain a safe workplace, and your company’s safety policy should be reviewed regularly by senior management. The fewer gray areas that exist, the more likely employees will be to follow your policy.
It’s one thing to post a safety policy, but something else entirely to attract the safe worker that you’d want to hire. If employees are expected to always wear hearing protection or a hard hat in certain workplace areas, set an example that shows that you never cut corners, either.
This might sound easier that it is in reality. For employees who typically work in an office, it might seem harmless to take a quick, unprotected walk through part of a facility where PPE is required of everyone else. By setting a great example where everyone is held accountable, employees know that you take your policy seriously.
Setting an example can also help you tweak safety policy as needed. If you wonder why some workers always peel off their PPE for a certain task, taking a pair of the same work gloves or other gear for a spin might reveal that they’re lacking in some pretty important areas. Maybe they impair the worker’s dexterity, or maybe they’re miserably hot and sweaty. And maybe it’s time to source better PPE that workers enjoy wearing both for safety and for comfort.
Safety meetings are another way that you can set an example. Regular meetings let you reiterate existing policy and keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. And they give employees the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns in real time.
Probably the surest way to encourage broken safety rules is haphazard enforcement. No employer wants to be the bad guy. But, when workers cut corners and take risks, everyone’s health and safety is in danger.
CCOHS recommends regular safety inspections, and regular enforcement of policy. Address new hazards as they emerge, and adopt new policies for them if the hazards aren’t temporary.
OSHA offers a free consultation service that can help you identify key issues. They also provide technical assistance and training. The purpose is to identify and correct issues, which helps you create a more comprehensive safety policy, and keep issues in check going forward.
Regular enforcement can help you avoid workplace injuries, and it also reduces the risk of OSHA or CCOHS fines for noncompliance. That’s another reason to enforce your policy. If your company maintains minimum safety standards, you won’t be on the hook for noncompliance fines or penalties.
Safety is everyone’s job, but the responsibility for adhering to safety policies lies with the company. That means you’re also personally in the position of helping employees feel safer at work.
The PPE that you provide for workers goes a long way toward fostering that sense of safety. Production goes up when workers aren’t nervous about injury, and so does company morale.
Want any easy way to improve your current safety standards and regulations? Did you know that we offer free glove audits? That’s right — we’ll send our glove experts right to your workplace so that they can ensure that you’re wearing the best, most cost-efficient PPE for your industry and application.
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