The employees that make up your company are objectively the most important asset to your business. Not only do they provide the labor that keeps things running, but they are also human beings with families and loved ones that rely on them.
This is why it’s crucial for businesses to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for their workers. No expense should be spared, and no employee should feel unsafe while on the job.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of workplace safety and the top workplace safety pointers for both employees and employers.
The importance of this topic cannot be understated. Let’s get started.
Is workplace safety really that important?
Workplace safety is important for several reasons.
The most obvious one is to protect employees from injury or harm. Your employees are human beings, and they deserve to work in a safe environment. They should not have to worry about being injured while they’re doing their job.
The consequences of one of your employees being physically injured can be immense. Not only is this a horrible experience for the affected employee, but the follow on effects of such a calamity are significant.
It is important to remember that workplace safety cannot be considered only from a physical point of view. There are also important psychological and emotional aspects to take into consideration. A safe workplace is one where employees feel comfortable and respected — regardless of cultural barriers — and where they know their rights are being protected.
If an employee is hurt, then it is not only a bad experience for that specific employee but a bad omen for all the other employees in the business.
Having an injured colleague drowns morale and strikes a sense of fear and worry into everyone else.
The firm’s reputation can be hit with the remaining employees potentially starting to leave the firm as a result, which can be disastrous from a recruiting perspective. Retaining employees is extremely important.
Hiring is an expensive activity — evidenced by the fact that companies with a high attrition rate tend to struggle very much in their operations. Hence issues with workplace safety can put a spanner into the works of companies’ employee retention strategy.
Another big reason workplace safety is important is because it can help improve productivity. If your employees feel safe and comfortable while they’re working, they’re more likely to be productive. A happy employee is a good employee.
But workplace safety is also important for legal reasons. Employers can be held liable if their negligence results in an employee being injured on the job. The company could be sued, and the financial damages could be devastating.
This means that while it is important to create a safe environment for moral reasons, it is also crucial to protect your business from potential legal action.
Top 10 workplace safety tips
Now we understand why workplace safety is so important — no matter what your business, industry, or division.
The first step to implementing any safety measure is to assess the risks in your workplace. This will help you identify which areas or tasks pose the greatest risk to your employees. Once you have identified the risks, you can put measures in place to mitigate them.
Here are some workplace safety tips that every business should make sure to follow.
Use proper equipment
One of the most important workplace safety tips is to ensure that your employees are using the proper equipment for their tasks.
This includes things like personal protective equipment (PPE), which should be worn at all times when there is a risk of exposure to hazardous materials.
Promote a culture of safety
A safe workplace is one where safety is a priority for everyone involved. To promote a culture of safety in your workplace, make sure that you communicate openly about safety concerns and that you take action on suggestions from employees.
Post signs and warnings
One way to remind employees of potential hazards in the workplace is to post signs and warnings in areas where there is a risk of injury. For example, if you have a machine that poses a danger of amputation, make sure there is a sign warning employees not to put their hands near the moving parts.
Implement Safe Work Practices
Safe work practices are procedures that help employees avoid injuries while performing their tasks. For example, if you have a policy of not allowing employees to lift more than 20 kg, this is a safe work practice.
Make sure your employees are properly trained in how to safely perform their tasks. This training should be provided before they start working and periodically refreshed.
For example, if you have a new machine in the workplace, all employees who will be using it should be properly trained on its safety features and how to use it correctly.
These programs should cover all aspects of safety in the workplace, including how to use equipment properly and what to do in case of an accident.
Inspect equipment regularly
Regularly inspect all equipment in the workplace to make sure it is in good working condition. This includes machines, tools, vehicles, and any other equipment that is used by the business.
Poorly maintained equipment can be a safety hazard.
Know your emergency exits
In the event of an emergency, it is crucial that your employees know where the nearest exit is.
Make sure to conduct regular fire drills so that everyone knows what to do in case of an evacuation.
You should also have a plan for employees who are unable to evacuate on their own, such as those with disabilities.
Stay hydrated and take regular breaks
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially if you’re working in a hot environment.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue and dizziness, which can increase the chances of an accident.
It’s also important to take regular breaks, even if you don’t feel tired. This will help you stay refreshed and focused on your work.
Practice good posture
One of the most common workplace injuries is musculoskeletal damage, caused by poor posture or incorrect lifting techniques.
Employees should be encouraged to practice good posture and use correct lifting techniques at all times.
Provide first-aid training
All employees should be trained in basic first aid, and there should always be a designated person responsible for first-aid in the workplace.
In the event of an accident or injury, it’s important that someone knows how to properly administer first-aid until medical help arrives.
The provision of first-aid training is not a difficult task to complete. Even if only the basics are known, then lives can be saved. Simply taking an hour out every quarter can suffice.
Avoid repetitive tasks
Another important tip is to avoid repetitive tasks that can lead to injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Employees should take breaks often and stretch their muscles to prevent these types of injuries.
It is also key to note that constantly performing repetitive tasks can make your employees quite bored. If they feel this way, they may get easily distracted and not follow safety instructions as they should — as they wrongly believe they are already familiar with the task.
This complacency can lead to accidents that could have been easily prevented.
Where can it all go wrong?
There is no limit to what can go wrong if workplace safety is not taken seriously enough. Even the largest of companies can be far too complacent when it comes to this issue.
In 2016, an employee of the food company Tyson Foods was seriously injured after being pulled into a machine. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the company $263,000 as a result of several health and safety breaches subsequently discovered.
An employee working for this manufacturing company died on site after a tragic accident involving him being trapped between two machines. This company was fined more than $350,000 as a result.
In another case from 2019, an Amazon employee in New York was crushed by a forklift. The e-commerce giant was again fined by OSHA, this time for $52,000.
These are examples of what can happen when business owners and managers don’t take workplace safety seriously enough. But there are plenty of smaller ways in which employees can get hurt on the job, and it’s important to be aware of these risks too.
The bottom line
The importance of workplace safety trumps any other objective a business can possibly have — since there are lives and livelihoods at stake.
Just by looking at the example companies where accidents have occurred, we can see that this is not an uncommon phenomenon.
Ensuring that your company takes workplace safety seriously is crucial. Use the workplace safety tips provided to bolster your company’s safety standards, and ensure all employees are taken care of as best as can be.
Check your safety standards, identify deficiencies, and implement workplace safety tips wherever possible.
The only way is up!