There are many critical reasons organizational leaders should prioritize safety in the workplace. Promoting a culture of safety is key to preventing work-related injuries, which, according to Rebecca J. Mitchell and Paul Bates in their study “Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss,” costs employers more than $260 billion every year. Second, employees will feel more looked after and motivated when working in an environment that is safe and secure, compared to one that is unsafe and full of distracting clutter.
Different organizations have different safety requirements. While a law firm may apparently not require the same safety protocol as a manufacturing plant does, it can still contain workplace hazards that are detrimental to employee safety and overall productivity.
Here are five critical ways to prevent workplace injuries to boost productivity and to cut down on safety-related costs.
Establish Clear Safety Guidelines
Each organization has unique safety needs, which will depend on several important factors, such as the type of operations they have, the number of total employees, and others. In order for your safety policies to be as effective as they can be, you will need to identify these factors and tailor your guidelines according to them.
Organize a focus group discussion with key personnel from different levels of the organization to give them equal opportunity to give feedback. Employees of different job titles will have unique perspectives, and their suggestions can serve as valuable guidelines for creating safety rules. For example, people from top level management may have safety concerns different from of employees working in operations.
Safety is not just the concern of managers or security officers. Each employee has their own part to play in maintaining an organization that is safe and conducive to productivity. Make sure that everyone in the company is properly informed on the different safety policies and what to do in emergency situations.
The following are three of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace and which prevention strategies to implement.
Prevent Workplace Violence
Statistically speaking, workplace violence is perpetrated by people who do not work inside the organization. It is important to identify critical areas in the organization that are vulnerable to such attacks. These can include departments that exchange or secure money, groups of people who regularly interact with the public, and staff who work late in the night or during the early morning.
You can prevent possible violence by installing twenty-four-hour security cameras, lighting equipment, and alarms that can quietly trigger quick responses from law enforcement. You can also consider adding more security personnel to monitor sensitive operations.
Identify Possible Falling Objects
There are all kinds of ordinary objects that can fall and instantly become workplace dangers. For example, books that are not properly stacked or poor-quality shelves that collapse easily can cause injuries to a hapless employee. Make sure to conduct regular safety checks to see that shelves are firmly installed, and make it an SOP for employees to return and arrange objects in shelves after each use.
Last but not the least, employees must also know the proper attire when working in areas (such as construction sites) that have the highest risk of falling objects. The protective gear can include hard hats, face shields, and safety goggles.
Employees working in construction firms and industrial plants are usually more prone to fall-related injuries. If your organization belongs in these industries, then it is important to orient employees on the different safety procedures and regularly evaluate their knowledge about them. Safety equipment like guardrails, pulley support, and nonslip mats can also help prevent falling.
Secondly, post signs to remind employees about the proper safety protocols and to caution them when entering hazardous areas.
Screen Heavy-Machinery Operators
Almost half of industry fatalities are caused in part by heavy equipment accidents, according to a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. You can prevent this type of accident from happening by conducting screenings and trainings to make sure that only qualified people handle and operate heavy machinery.
This means avoiding situations where employees are working under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. It is equally important to enforce a zero-tolerance policy in operations that require mental clarity, focus, and physical coordination. In that case, employees should be able to pass workplace drug tests and other health requirements.
Safety First Always
Safety is an ongoing process. If you want your organization to successfully adopt and promote a culture of safety, you will need each and every employee to be accountable. This can only be possible if communication lines are open among all members of the organization.
Employees from all levels should be aware of the chain of command in the company and be empowered to be proactive in the issue of workplace safety.