Every day we go into our offices, our factories, our department stores expecting a good day of work to unfold. We do our daily routines, our daily tasks, chat with coworkers, and think about what we’ll do when we get home. One thing that we often don’t think about or don’t even realize is that there is danger lurking everywhere in a work setting – even in an office.
The workplace is supposed to be an area where you can go and be productive, but when there are numerous dangers like tripping hazards, slippery surfaces, or damaged property, you might not expect to get hurt. Getting hurt at work isn’t always a dramatic affair either. You won’t always see blood or hear bones break. Something as simple as a slip and fall could result in back problems for life.
Accidents are preventable, and even if they’re not possible to completely remove, there is still a lot of potential for creating a safer work environment and prevent workplace accidents. Here are 7 ways that an employer can help make the office, the factory, or the retail space safer for everyone.
1. Bring in an Inspector to Determine Problem Areas
You don’t need to be an expert on health and safety to make sure that those two criteria are met in the workplace. The solution is to bring in health and safety consultants to do a critical assessment of your work environment, determine problem areas, and provide solutions. It’s one of the first steps any employer should take, even if they feel the space is safe, there could be hidden dangers that these consultants are uniquely attuned to spot and help you correct.
2. Provide Employees with Proper Training
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This idiom is entirely true when it comes to safety and accident prevention at work, you can only do so much, so you need to teach your employees how to use their own skills to be safer and more health-conscious at work. Provide them with the right training resources, like reading materials, courses, and videos, so they can develop the necessary workplace training for occupational hazards.
3. Provide Employees with the Right Protective Gear
The skills and training needed are just the first half of that equation, however. You still need to give them the right protective gear, or personal protective equipment (PPE), as it’s referred to. Depending on the workplace, they may require:
- Safety glasses
- Rubber-toed boots/shoes
- Protective coveralls/long sleeves/pants
- Back harnesses
- Non-slip shoes
All of this protective gear, or at least some of it, will be necessary for employees to do their job successfully and safely. It’s also expected that some of this gear (coveralls, rubber-toed shoes/boots) will be purchased by them, but it could depend on company policy as well. Another thing is that the workplace has dedicated safety stations (first-aid kits, eyewash station) for added safety benefits.
4. Make a Continous Effort to Keep Areas Clean and Clear
Creating a safe work environment is an ongoing process. The cleaning and maintaining of an organized space is not a one-time deal, so you, and your employees, have to be continuously aware of what may have changed and how to ensure that it remains clean and organized. Boxes, cords, wires, and debris that is strewn about, along with spills or slipping hazards should be cleaned immediately to prevent a future accident.
5. Appoint a Responsible Person to a Health and Safety Representative Position
Nearly every job, from a white-collar office to a blue-collar labor factory has to have a health and safety representative. This is usually not a dedicated position, but rather an individual that was chosen or applied to take on this role. As an employer, this is a good time to find someone who is responsible and committed to ensuring the safety of their fellow employees to take on the duty of being the health and safety rep for your workplace. Finding a qualified individual that you can trust gives you some extra relief knowing that they are equally committed to the task.
6. Focus on Continual Education About Workplace Safety
A one-time seminar or an introductory course on workplace health and safety is not enough. There has to be a continuous strive for educational awareness on workplace safety that is updated to include new changes to the labor code and provide more helpful information. Giving employees the proper training courses is good, but you can go a step further by providing updated training. It’s also important to have safety code manuals (more relevant for labor or union jobs) that are easily accessible in the workspace for employees to reference for future use. It helps to have refreshers for safety, yourself included so that you don’t forget the lessons you learn about workplace safety measures and responsibilities.
7. Lead by Example
Lastly, as an employer, you want to be able to lead by example. Providing all of the protective tools, gear, and training is great, but if you don’t adhere to the rules and regulations you set, you’re not much of a leader yourself. The best way to be a good manager is by showing your employees that you are not above the rules, especially with safety. Wearing the PPE in hazardous areas, taking it upon yourself to clean up spills when you can, and commending employees for being safe and smart goes a long way in make a workplace safe, but more importantly, empowering your team to feel good about themselves.
Without thinking about it, we unwittingly put ourselves in danger every time we go to work. Not because our work is inherently dangerous, but because accidents are prone to happen here. It becomes even more apparent when health and safety aren’t prioritized, so following these 7 tips, an employer (and employee) can help make the workplace a more enjoyable environment that has a reduced risk of injury.