Safety Policies Aren’t Enough: 5 Ways You Can Improve Safety At Your Workplace

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Take a moment to think about your workplace and about its safety policies. Now ask yourself: does the place you work at also encourage employees to identify and report safety risks and possible improvements? And does it talk to them about safety matters on a regular basis? If not – and if you work somewhere other than behind a desk – then your worksite still has a lot to do in the safety area. No matter how many policies and guidelines a company creates, if its employees and its managers aren’t adhering to or communicating about those guidelines and policies on a regular basis, they may as well not exist. Don’t believe us? Here’s 5 simple things that can do as much to improve workplace safety – if not more! – as a standard safety policy:
  1.     Owner or managers need to let employees know that they understand accidents can happen at any worksite. Interviews after work accidents or major disasters prove time and time again that we never think something will go wrong. But the reality is that accidents can happen at any worksite – even the most prepared ones. Rather than ignore this and expect 100% perfection from their workers, it’s better for higher-ups to recognize this reality and communicate it with staff and coworkers. Doing so won’t create a workforce of slackers! Acknowledging this and encouraging employees to do so as well actually encourages people to talk about and report any safety issues that come up, versus potentially squashing staff members’ willingness to speak up when they see problems brewing. The result? A safer worksite overall.
  2.     Everyone needs to encourage awareness at all times from all members of the workforce. Do your employees, staff and coworkers understand the risks and hazards of their job in their entirety? Do they know how to avoid these risks and hazards? Training employees regularly to recognize these issues and to be aware of their surroundings can do a lot to help improve a company’s from a safety perspective. Employees should also feel comfortable monitoring their coworkers and mentioning concerns to them; anyone can make a mistake, which is why everyone has to work together to make workplace safety happen.
  3.     Don’t be afraid to ask for expert opinions. If a company wants to find ways to improve its safety policy, it’s ok to reach out for outside help. Anyone with question about legal issues or safety laws should not hesitate to speak to law officials or safety experts; both would much rather help a company make improvements then get involved after an accident happens. Both can often provide additional resources and training that will help make a workplace safer, and thus improve its work capabilities.
  4.     Develop an ever-evolving plan and practice it. Anyone can put together a safety plan – it’s following and updating that plan that really matters. Making this happen requires cooperation at all levels. Bosses and managers should always make sure that their staff, employees or coworkers all understand what needs to happen in an accident or emergency; they also need to update their plan after any change takes place at their worksite, including when staff members take on new roles or items are moved from one section of the building to another. It’s also important to host drills every quarter – or six months maximum – to make sure employees understand the safety procedures that have been written out, as well as their specific jobs within that plan. Remember, knowledge is power – and a safety plan only works if everyone knows everything they need to know about their worksite and their role on it.
  5.     Follow basic safety guidelines when using machinery, tools or safety equipment at all times. So often an attempt to get a job done faster leads to an accident happening on site; similarly, often using safety equipment incorrectly leads to a workplace accident. Don’t let this happen to you. Employees should always stick to the instructions they’ve been given to carry a procedure out (and should feel comfortable bringing up a safer way to get a job done, if they know of one). In addition to this higher-ups should regularly check in with employees and make sure they’re following the procedures they were told to follow, taking the precautions they need to, and not taking shortcuts whenever they use any on-site machinery, tools or safety items. This system of checks and balances will ensure that any unsafe procedures or bad behaviors are caught and addressed before they become full-blown issues.
By encouraging openness after safety issues and regularly having facilities managers or business owners interact with their staff, companies can dramatically improve their safety standards. What do you think – have you tried these tricks? Are there any tips you would add to this list? Leave thoughts and stories in the comments!