If you’re developing or running a workplace health and safety program, you already know you can’t do this alone. You need buy-in from top executives and support from respected worksite leaders.
The following are five workplace health and safety tips to get your program up and running.
Top Executives Must Visibly Support Work Place Safety
No workplace safety program will succeed if the signals about it from the top are mixed.
Side-stepping even smallish safety steps can wreak havoc on lives and business.
- In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico made history for causing the largest marine oil spill in history when it exploded and killed 11 employees.
- That same year, an explosion in West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine killed 29 miners.
Investigations showed a clear lack of support for and understanding of safety procedures at these companies. Safety monitors on the Deepwater Horizon had been shut off to prevent false alarms, while Upper Big Branch Mine executives didn’t want to spend funds to keep it well-ventilated. This allowed explosives gases to build up and explode.
So what can a safety professional do to get workplace health and safety taken seriously from the people at the top whose concern may be bottom-line financials?
One tactic is to outline how ensuring a safe workplace will save money by reducing:
- Absenteeism as fewer employees get sick or injured on the job
- Employee turnover: employees remain with companies that visibly demonstrate they are valued
- Costs to repair or replace machinery that gets damaged from lack of maintenance and safety inspections
- Health and safety violations and fines
The company may even see lower or at least steadier costs for workers comp and health, business, and property insurance. And who knows, its reputation may soar as a result.
Once you get executive support, ask them to make an announcement about a new focus on workplace health and safety.
Start Working on and Communicating Your Work Place Safety Plan Right Away!
Now that you have buy-in from the top, start outlining your workplace safety plan and let the people around you know about it. This underscores how seriously you take this responsibility, whether it’s a new job and you’re new to the company or you’ve been promoted into it.
Follow up the executive announcement with your own communication about workplace safety and areas where there are opportunities for improvement.
Go to department heads and managers and ask if you can be included in planning meetings so you can better understand what they’re up against. You’ll be most effective as a listener at these meetings. Jot down your questions to ask later.
When you communicate with your fellow employees, use the method they are most familiar with. It can be an email, hardcopy memo, or a video. Whatever you do, be sure to include a photo of yourself (which you can embed on your email) and contact information.
Get Employees Involved with Work Place Health
Think about creative ways to get the interest of the company’s rank-and-file as you develop training plans.
Most people sigh when they have to go for safety training, but by making it clear that employees are the engines that drive the workplace, you’ll find that many support new or renewed safety efforts. No one wants to be that guy who wishes he had Aflac!
One of the best workplace safety tips we can offer is to make safety an inclusive process. Find out who has unique insights into different aspects of the company and get them involved.
- Get advice from the experts who handle chemicals and machinery on developing safety controls and written policies.
- Are chemicals properly stored, or are there improvements they’d like to see?
- Where are logs kept?
- Is there a night or sleep setting for certain equipment, or should everything be turned off at the end of the day?
- How often should equipment be cleaned and inspected for optimal performance?
- What personal protective equipment is ideal?
- Ask people who work for executives to help coordinate and run safety drills, particularly fire drills and emergency evacuations. They can take charge and directing employees to evacuation areas to conduct headcounts.
- Everyone knows who they are!
- Their gatekeeping role usually means they have their bosses’ backs while maintaining good relationships with rank-and-file employees.
Provide refreshments at training sessions. (Seriously, this really spreads goodwill.) Briefly introduce yourself and ask people to do the same. Acknowledge any commonalities you have with someone, whether it’s having the same breed of dog or growing up in New Jersey. These are steps to build positive relationships.
Tackle Low-Hanging Fruit
Here’s an easy workplace safety tip: Address the most visible problems first.
Let’s say there are lots of spills that take time to clean up with kitty litter, cardboard, or whatever is used. Bring in a jar of SpillFix, which quickly soaks up liquids without leaving any residue behind. This is a great way to demonstrate your own knowledge of workplace safety in with a practical solution.
If you aren’t familiar with SpillFix, you can request a demonstration.
Insist on a No-Tolerance Policy on Drug and Alcohol Abuse
One workplace safety tip we believe should be non-negotiable is a strong drug and alcohol policy.
Employees deserve to work in safe settings. Overlooking or excusing an impaired person is practically inviting an accident, particularly if this person handles chemicals or operates machinery.
Find out if there’s an employee assistance program (EAP) in place that includes mental health and substance abuse counseling services. Requiring violators to get help should be the first step in addressing drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace.
A healthy and safe work environment is essential for producing quality products. Getting it right from the start will promote a positive reputation and develop loyal, conscientious employees.