Workplace safety practices help keep overhead low, because safety training measures are typically much cheaper than medical care and workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers. Not to mention, a history of workplace accidents could make good employees wary to work for you, and even put you on the wrong side of OSHA regulations.
Not to worry, though, promoting safe work practices is easy and fun. It starts with hiring competent workers who know how to do their jobs well, training them to follow the latest safety guidelines, and providing the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs safely. Schedule regular safety training events and post safety guidelines around the workplace so safety remains at the front of your employees’ minds. Encourage anonymous feedback from employees who see unsafe work practices happening, and provide incentives and rewards for employees to adhere to safety regulations at work.
Hire Good Workers
Incompetent workers are workers who are more likely to hurt themselves. They don’t know how to do their jobs correctly, and they may not have the wherewithal to follow safety regulations. Screen candidates for skills and experience — but also for a history of safe work practices.
Make Sure Your Workers Have the Safety Equipment They Need
Your employees aren't going to wear safety goggles or hard hats if you don’t provide them. Don’t be tempted to save a few bucks by skimping on safety equipment. Would you rather pay for a few pairs of steel-toed boots, or surgery to re-attach an employee’s severed toes?
Remember that workplace safety equipment isn't limited to stuff workers need in warehouses and on construction sites. Safety equipment for your employees can be as simple as hand soap in the bathrooms, rubber mats on the lunchroom floor, and ergonomic chairs and office equipment.
Provide Safety Training — And Lots of It
A yearly safety training event is a good idea to help your employees brush up on any changes to company safety policy or OSHA regulations. But you shouldn't assume that your employees are experts on workplace safety. As Entrepreneur.com contributor Phil La Duke points out, “Common sense isn't always common practice.” Schedule regular safety events that include the opportunity to attend workplace safety seminars and classes and engage in fun workplace safety activities. Try incorporating some of the following events into your workplace once in a while:
- A game of workplace safety trivia
- Fire Drills aren't just for elementary school (Have one that turns into a lunch time company picnic with free hot dogs and soda as the reward for arriving in the designated parking lot )
- Demonstrations of proper hand-washing techniques
- A lock down or disaster preparedness drill with handouts for work and home.
You might also encourage your employees to collaborate on fun safety-themed projects, like the writing of a safety-themed song or the production of a safety-themed video. Post the results on your company’s website, blog, and social media accounts.
Post Safety Guidelines Throughout Your Workplace
Like most people, your workers go through their days assuming that nothing bad is going to happen to them — until it does. Remind them to stay on guard against workplace mishaps by putting up posters and notices warning of the safety risks inherent in your employees’ jobs and informing them of the steps they need to take to protect themselves. These notices can include signs directing workers to wash their hands before they leave the restroom or to be careful taking hot food out of the microwave, as well as notices about wearing hard hats, goggles, and other equipment.
Encourage Anonymous Feedback
You can’t watch your employees all day long, so make sure they’re able to give feedback about safety hazards or violations in the workplace. An anonymous suggestion box is ideal, because it provides a format in which all workers can give their feedback, without fear of reprisal from the others.
Reward Safe Workers
Offering rewards and incentives to workers who practice safety guidelines shows your company’s commitment to safety, and emphasizes your belief in its importance. But don’t fall into the trap of rewarding teams who don’t report any injuries — that just discourages employees from reporting their injuries. Instead, pay attention to which employees comply with safety regulations and offer them incentives in the form of bonuses, extra vacation days, or recognition.
Workplace accidents are bound to happen, but by doing what you can to promote safe work practices, you can keep them to a minimum. Not only will it save you money on medical bills and workers comp claims, it’ll bring you an even more intangible benefit — the trust of your employees, who will know that you genuinely care about them as people.
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