We know what you're thinking: Did this guy fall or is he just breakdancing? When it comes to evaluating risk at work, things may not always be what they appear. Something you may think is perfectly safe could have hidden risks. And something that looks like a disaster could just be a talented employee who is really feeling the beat.
How to stay on the safe side
When we think of workplace safety, images of heavy equipment and manual labor often jump to mind. But the truth is that on-the-job injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. Safety hazards are ever-present: at job sites, in vehicles, and yes, even in the fanciest of offices.
Everyone wants to work in a safe environment but minimizing workplace risk is an ongoing job. Here are two key ways to make sure you are creating a culture of safe working habits.
1. Pay attention
Not all risks are blatantly obvious, and not every unsafe practice results in a spectacular accident.
Many workplace injuries happen slowly and over time. Repetitive motions can take even your best and most seasoned employees out of the game. Things like non-ergonomic workstations, heavy lifting, and frequently repeated movements can lead to repetitive stress injuries that leave people unable to do the jobs they’ve done for years.
Call in an ergonomics expert to evaluate how your team is working and stay up to date on best practices for jobs with repetitive motion. Educate yourself and your team about using proper techniques and how to spot warning signs that you aren’t.
As you start looking for potential safety hazards, think about how well you can see. What’s your lighting situation like? Do you have shady areas, dark corners, and too many lights out? It’s hard to work safely when you’re in the dark. Make sure your work areas are well-lit so your employees have a clear view of their work and each other.
Are your employees coming to you with concerns? If so, take them seriously. Those who are working the same jobs day in and day out are well positioned to see hazards that others might miss. Brushing off concerns as merely complaints isn’t going to make your workplace any safer. It also won’t do anything to build employee trust, confidence, or loyalty.
On the other hand, workers who do the same jobs day in and day out may become immune to certain job hazards that really should be fixed. The carpet roll you have to step over every day. The wobbly storage shelf. The reflective vest that disappeared. That outlet that never does works quite right.
How many things has your team has simply been working around instead of fixing or replacing?
There are plenty of hard-working employees who don’t want to bring attention to these “little things” or to themselves. But all it takes is the right set of circumstances for a little thing to become a big thing. Make sure you’re doing safety walk-throughs and interviews on a regular basis to identify any potential unsafe practices.
2. Reward the right behaviors
Too often, employees are praised or rewarded for unsafe practices, such as:
- Working at a fast pace
- Taking on back-to-back shifts
- Powering through adverse conditions
- Showing up for work no matter what
This is short sighted thinking that can easily backfire. Employees should work at a safe pace, not a quick pace. They should also be well rested, healthy, and alert. Pushing your staff past their limits may seem like a great idea when you’re battling deadlines and bottom lines, but overworked and overtired employees are a recipe for mistakes and accidents. Not to mention expensive claims, fines, and employee turnover.
Trying to squeeze a little extra ROI out of your employees can cost you big time. Why not reward safe behaviors instead?
- Catch someone being safe? Call them out as a shining example! (Gift card are also great)
- Throw a party for X number of safe work days.
- Reward those who find potential safety hazards or offer solutions for safer processes.
- Incentivize people to attend safety meetings with prizes, food, or coffee cards.
Rewarding positive behaviors is much more effective and fun than punishing negative behaviors— or suffering the consequences.
Safe business = better business
Safety is about taking care of your people, but it’s also about taking care of your business.
Ask any company that has dealt with a workplace accident or injury claim and they will tell you it’s better to be safe than sorry. An unfortunate incident could cost you huge amounts of time and money. It could also cost you your reputation, your staff, and your livelihood.
Creating a culture of safety requires ongoing effort, investment, and commitment, but these things will all pay off big in the long run. Investing in a safe workplace is a great way to help protect your employees, your business, and your bottom line.
And today is a great day to start.
Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by Gino Santa Maria