Every year, workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses $250 billion . That’s a lot of money—funds that business owners could better use creating innovative new products, improving the services they offer, investing in equipment, even hiring more employees. Fortunately, many safety incidents are completely preventable. Consider the following simple suggestions to help you boost the safety of your workplace today.
- Proactively look for hazards. You may already conduct a workplace safety audit once or even twice a year, but job conditions change constantly. Take a few minutes every day to walk through your various work areas, and encourage your employees to do the same. This will help you identify potential new hazards before they become a problem, as well as allow you to correct employees violating current safety policies.
- Make training a priority. While you should obviously include accident prevention training during new employee orientation, make a point to continue training your workers after their first days. Hold weekly safety meetings and periodic retraining sessions. This will make it easy for your employees to ask questions about safety procedures and keep your workplace safety program’s rules top of mind.
- Put it in writing, and be specific. It’s one thing to tell employees how to do their jobs safely. You may even show them. But if you want to ensure you’ve covered all the learning bases, provide your workers with written job aids including safety checklists, operating manuals and step-by-step procedures.
- Involve everyone in problem solving. Employees will be more engaged in following safety policies and procedures when they can play a part in their creation. Form a workplace safety team—containing front-line workers, supervisors and management—and have them analyze possible safety issues, determine possible solutions, test their ideas, and implement new guidelines.
- Keep an eye on attitudes. If your workplace goes for some time without an accident, injury or illness, your team may begin to feel complacent. Workers may become sloppy or careless, taking unnecessary risks. Put a stop to this immediately. If it’s one individual, have a private one-on-one talk. If it’s an entire department, schedule a special safety meeting to review policies, procedures and the importance of following them.
- Monitor your workers’ health. We’re not talking about blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and clipboards here. Nothing that formal is necessary. You can easily improve workplace safety by just being aware of your team’s physical condition and making adjustments to their duties as necessary. For example, if one of your warehouse workers has been out with the flu for a week, he might not be up to lifting heavy loads when he gets back. You could temporarily reassign him, or just let him know that it is okay—even encouraged—to take work a little easier until he’s fully recovered.
- Reward safe behavior. Most employees love approval and recognition. Instead of making workplace safety enforcement about punishment alone, add in rewards for those who follow the program consistently. Ideas include selecting a “safe employee of the month,” small gifts for employees who remain accident free, and bonuses for workers who identify and eliminate workplace hazards.
Would you like a professional review of your workplace safety program? Do you need help reducing illnesses and injuries at your jobsite? Contact your safety advisor today.