Managers and human resources directors have a responsibility to ensure that a work environment is relatively free of risks, hazards and other dangers that could cause illnesses or injuries to employees. Ensuring a safe working environment begins with having a policy in place to avoid potential problems and to address immediate accidents in the event that one arises.
Premises liability and workplace accidents can present significant exposure to legal claims in addition to catastrophic injuries on the part of employees. This can ultimately translate into missed time at work and lost productivity because of an employee who is dealing with the aftermath of an otherwise preventable workplace accident. Improvement of workplace safety and health should be the priority of human resources managers and company owners in any industry.
While certain industries such as construction and manufacturing are home to more severe and frequent injuries than others, it is important for any company to consider the benefits of establishing a long-term workplace safety and health plan. This begins with the recognition that workplace safety and health is of the utmost importance.
Create A Plan to Clarify and Promote Workplace Safety and Health
As an employer, it’s a good idea to identify possible hazards in the workplace and to take all necessary steps to minimize or eliminate them.
A safety plan is often the first component in doing this. This plan should also be used to communicate to employees what will be done to enhance their safety and what is expected from them. Employees, for example, should always have a first aid kit and be told what to do in the event they are involved in a workplace accident.
There are many different hazards that can be presented to employees simply trying to do their jobs. For example, a warehouse manager stacking heavy boxes, a mechanic working hard machinery that may be defective or dangerous, or a cleaner who is handling chemical products may all face different but serious forms of risks.
Engage in Regular Workplace Inspections
The establishment of the safety plan and guidelines is the first crucial step to avoiding workplace accidents, but it does not end there. This must be followed up with regular inspections of the working area to ensure whether or not any safety issues have arisen, and whether or not there are any violations of the safety plan in place. All tools and equipment should be regularly evaluated to identify whether they are safe to use and that they are properly maintained.
Safe work procedures should also be reviewed and company managers and human resources professionals should be prepared to check storage areas to ensure whether or not any habits developed on the part of the employees could present risks to everyone. Furthermore, review the fire exits directly with employees and ensure that all appropriate signage about risks and dangers are posted clearly.
Use Regular Training
All employees must undergo proper training, particularly if there are critical injuries typically associated with their job. Safe work procedures should be documented in a written format so that an employee can review for themselves whether or not they need further assistance. If an employee has forgot a portion of their training or is unsure of the tasks, these written procedures can be extremely beneficial for avoiding an accident.
Employees should also be supervised to verify that they are performing their tasks safely and properly. When a lapse is identified with regard to how an employee is implementing the training, the employer should be prepared to step in quickly. Failing to provide the appropriate training for employees can endanger the safety of everyone, but could also means that the employer is held accountable for an incident that could have major consequences.
A regular problem with the flooring, for example, could present significant slip and fall risks for everyone involved, and the employer should be prepared to take action quickly to rectify any existing problems and to post appropriate warning signs to avoid future injuries.
Regularly Talk with The Employees
Employees are often the first line of defense in preventing workplace incidents. They are aware of the obstacles and hazards within the workplace that when reported, can allow an employer to minimize exposure to liability and to take action quickly to protect all workers.
Employees should be encouraged to share their ideas about how to enhance safety in the workplace. First aid training may also be something you wish to provide to staff so that they are properly prepared to handle emergency situations prior to medical personnel and emergency responders getting to the scene.
An open communication program within the workplace gives employees the clarity about why it’s so important to report an accident as soon as possible. This means that more employees might be aware of safety risks and report them to supervisors in the office before an accident happens. Employees should know that they play an important role in identifying problems and responding to emergencies and this begins with an open communication program.
Keep All Records
After putting in all of this time to develop a safety plan and to ensure regular training and evaluation of the workplace, this information needs to be kept in a health and safety logbook. This can also allow employers to identify trends in unsafe work procedures or unsafe conditions. All inspections, training activities, incident investigations and first aid treatments should be logged in as well.
Respond to Incidents Immediately
Even if an accident does not lead to catastrophic injury, an accident investigation should be completed promptly to identify why an accident happened so that the employer can take steps to ensure it does not happen again. Safety should be a key part of the business and should not be an afterthought.
It is just as crucial as inventory control, financial planning and customer service. When done, it can help employees feel more comfortable in their working environment and give everyone a greater sense of peace of mind about coming to work every day.