According to the National Safety Council of the United States, work-related injuries and death caused businesses financial losses worth $171 billion in 2019. An unsafe workplace environment puts workers at risk of physical and mental ill-health. This leads to unproductive work days and money lost in settling legal claims. Therefore, companies must create a safety culture to minimize financial losses and ensure employees' well-being.
To reduce financial loss and to provide a safe environment to employees, there is a need to create a safety culture within the organization.
But before you develop a safety culture, you must first understand what it is.
The culture within an organization refers to how employees work and complete tasks. A safety culture focuses on employees' well-being as well as the company's interests. It includes an organization's attitudes, processes, and commitment to health and safety management.
A robust safety plan can help reduce the number of accidents in the workplace. A survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance stated that investing $1 in injury prevention helped over 60% of chief financial officers save over $2 or more. Also, 40% of chief financial officers reported that an increase in the productivity of employees is the top advantage of an effective workplace safety program. So, if you're a manager or business owner on the look out to create a safer, healthier workplace, here's what you need to know:
Get a safety management professional on board
Having a qualified safety officer or manager can help you develop and deploy a strategy to reduce workplace hazards. You can either hire this professional or encourage existing employees to step up to the task. Motivated individuals within the company can enroll in an online safety management degree and fast-track the upskilling process flexibly while applying their newfound learning in a practical setting on the go.
Set up a health and safety team
A proper health, safety, and environmental team should be formed within the company. The team's responsibility should be to provide a safe environment by monitoring the workplace, assessing the risks, and then designing strategies to combat hazards at the workplace. The team should regularly engage with employees and give presentations about safety hazards and measures to reduce the risk of injury.
The team should also be ready to offer help in any incident. It should support the management in devising policies to ensure employees' safety at the workplace.
Identify workplace safety hazards
Some hazards, such as fire and electrical problems, are common to every company. You must be aware of the possible risks associated with them regardless of the nature of your work. But some hazards are specific to the type of work and industry. For example, a software house is also prone to cyber-attacks. Similarly, a chemical plant will have a higher risk of toxic spills that can harm employees. In healthcare settings, biological hazards such as cross-contamination and infections spreading beyond control are a major concern for the safety of healthcare providers and patients alike.
Recognizing the unique nature of the hazards specific to your workplace enables you to take specific actions against these dangers. You'll be able to develop a plan better suited for your company's safety culture.
Creating a safe and healthy work environment is not only the management's responsibility, but it also involves active participation from employees. You cannot build a safety culture if you do not spread awareness among workers at risk, which is why it is necessary to engage them.
You can ensure employees actively participate by holding group discussions and workshops. Use these meetings to make them aware of how their physical well-being can be at risk in specific situations, and take their feedback when developing a strategy. You can also increase engagement by conducting safety drills for situations such as a fire or a cyber-attack.
Create an effective reporting system
A reporting system can help you determine when dangerous incidents are about to occur, how many people are at stake, and what people should do in case the situation goes down south. Identify the cause of the incident, who was at fault, and the damage's extent.
Detailed information with the help of data will enable you to develop ideal safety protocols for the future and protect employees and the workplace. You can use employee feedback to restructure the organizational strategy and framework for dealing with health and safety issues.
Employee training is crucial to building a safe and healthy workplace. You must ensure that people are trained to perform risky tasks such as operating heavy machinery, working with hazardous chemicals, etc. Small mistakes can prove fatal if employees are untrained.
Similarly, one should not be allowed to work without wearing safety equipment. Provide employees with the necessary PPE, gloves, headgear, and masks to ensure their safety while working on jobs that could harm them physically. You might also have to take strict action against frequent offenders of such safety protocols.
You cannot create and nurture a safety culture at the workplace within a day; it is a continuous process. This article mentions a few tips to help you get started. Apart from setting up a team to develop and deploy safety policies, educate your employees, and engage them throughout the process. A safer workplace will ensure employee well-being, productivity, and a sustainable working method.