A safe workplace is a space where everyone in the firm feels heard and protected. It’s a culture that encourages communication between the staff of different levels and makes sure all grievances are taken care of as swiftly as possible.

It’s in the best interest of every business to build such an environment as this directly affects employee’s productivity and the company’s revenue. A terrible culture can also tarnish the name of your brand.

Here are a few tips on how to build a safe workplace for your employees:

1. Develop A Proper Safety Plan

Workplace injuries are pretty common. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS), 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries were reported in 2019. It’s estimated that US companies pay approximately $62 billion in workplace injuries compensation per year. To save your company from expensive legal proceedings and claims, you must develop an effective safety plan and put it into action.

The first step in creating an effective safety plan is identifying the risk in your workplace. Analyze the working environment and the activities that take place in each space. This should give you an idea of the hazards that may occur in the area. 

After identifying all the potential workplace hazards, come up with policies, designs, and gear that’ll provide the best protection to your staff. 

Make sure you are also following OSHA guidelines while designing your workplace and the company’s safety policies. 

2. Train Your Employees

A safety plan is useless if your employees are not trained on how to follow it. In fact, failure to train your employees only results in more injuries which increases your liability.

Make sure all new employees are taken through comprehensive training covering all safety regulations before they start working. This is actually one of the most critical elements in a checklist used by various HR teams. You have to provide a safety guideline handbook that employees can always refer to. Posters and other warnings can also be placed at strategic parts of the company to inform the employees of potential hazards and what’s expected of them.

Besides the initial training, all employees should go through routine drills to remind them of existing regulations and teach them any new measures put in place.

Training alone is not enough. If you really want to avoid the hefty OSHA fines, then you must invest in good supervisors. They’ll help with monitoring employees to ensure all safety guidelines are followed.

3. Encourage Communication

Efficient communication is critical in building a thriving business culture. Every employer must maintain open lines of communication between the staff of all levels. The senior members of the company should be able to communicate policies and decisions as efficiently as possible. Likewise, the team on the plant should have access to the management. More importantly, they should feel that their voices matter.

Many industries hold brief weekly meetings to touch base with their employees. This is the perfect opportunity to receive their complaints and suggestions. It also gives you the avenue to update your staff on any upgrades or changes expected in the company.

In addition to the meetings, you should always give your employees a line of communication they can use in case of any pressing matters. Don’t make them wait for the weekly/monthly meeting to communicate their issues.

4. Involve Your Employees

Human beings are more likely to adhere to laws when they feel like they were involved in making the said rules. This principle applies everywhere, including workplaces. Of course, you cannot let your employees write the entire safety manual. However, their input can give you valuable insights on how to create the perfect working environment for them. They are, after all, the ones who spend the most time on the flow interacting with the dangerous equipment.

There are many ways of involving employees in developing and implementing safety measures. The first is by creating a safety committee made up of senior members of the company and representatives of the employees. Use the committees to collect helpful information on the safety challenges your staff encounter every day. You can also communicate the steps you are taking to improve their wellbeing through these committees.

Employee suggestion boxes are also a great way of getting valuable information from the staff. This method can provide crucial covert information that employees may have a harder time communicating during group meetings.

5. Investigate Accidents

It’s very easy to overlook a minor accident that did not harm anyone or cause any damage to your equipment. However, failure to investigate minor accidents can result in bigger, more devastating problems.

Encourage your employees to report all accidents regardless of how minor they may be. But this alone is not enough. Employees can avoid reporting certain issues to cover up their own liability. For that reason, you should encourage supervisors to keep a close eye on the activities taking place on the floor. You could also utilize cameras and other forms of tech to monitor operations.

6. Have a clear Disciplinary policy

It’s possible that after every effort you put into training and building a safe workplace, some employees will still violate the regulations. This exposes their fellow staff to potential hazards and your business to expensive legal ramifications. That’s why it is crucial to have a clear and open disciplinary policy. It must also be applied consistently without favoring anyone.

You may want to work with occupational experts to develop this policy. Be sure to use reasonable punishments that are matching to the different types of violations. For instance, verbal and written warnings can be issued for minor offenses. However, if the same employee violates the rules too much, more severe punishment may be warranted.

For serious violations, swift and decisive punishments like suspensions and terminations are necessary. Remember, such infractions can cost you thousands or even millions of dollars, so the punishment must be swift to protect your investment.

Creating a safe working space is a necessity and not an option. Use the above guide to cover all the bases and reduce your exposure to legal liabilities.

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