7 Ways to Increase Safety in the Workplace

What will it take to improve safety in your workplace?  How can you do it in a cost-effective manner?  Many business owners believe that an injury is something that the business needn’t worry about, others believe that implementing a system focused on improving safety in the workplace will break the bank.  Learn what you can do to improve safety without spending a bundle from Nova Medical Centers.

The belief that a business must choose between workplace safety and making a profit is a very old and deeply held mind-set. Unfortunately it’s usually just plain wrong. Here are seven approaches that any business owner can adopt to reduce the risk of worker injuries without adding prohibitive cost:

1. Hire Safety-Oriented Individuals

When sales exceed production capacity, some owners might be tempted to make a quick hire. But employers would be wise to consider the risk associated with hiring an incompetent worker — someone who is far more likely to become injured. Instead carefully screen candidates to ensure that they have the skills and experience it takes to be successful — and work safely.

Further, find leaders within your team. These individuals can serve as captains to help coordinate and take additional responsibility in case of an emergency. Make workplace security a team effort.

2. Train for Safety

Even a highly skilled and experienced worker should be given instruction to meet your expectations of how the job will be done. If you know certain techniques that can make doing a certain job safer, be sure to share them with your workers. Counting on common sense to keep workers safe is a recipe for disaster. Common sense isn’t always common practice.

By paying closer attention to unusual or suspicious behavior and challenging it, you can improve insight into safety. Don’t be afraid to inquire or report, and make sure you’re people aren’t afraid either. Be polite but assertive in challenging anyone acting unusual.

3. Demand the Job be Done Safely

Begin by believing there’s always time to do things safely and it’s never acceptable to work unsafely. Then practice what you preach. If you praise members of your A team as those who get the job done with whatever it takes, you may be inadvertently fostering a culture that devalues safety.
Choosing productivity over safety sends the wrong message to your workers. You want workers to share your vision of a safe workplace and be engaged and active in making that happen. Workers will support your vision only if they believe it’s real.

Consider recognizing staffers who offer suggestions for working safely. Be careful to not provide incentives for achieving zero injuries because that will essentially be rewarding zero reporting, which may increase the risk of injuries.  Looking for more ways to prevent injury in the workplace? Check out 4 Ways to Prevent Workplace Injury on the Nova Blog.

4. Provide the Right Tools

You can’t expect employees to take reasonable precautions (for example, tie a personal line to a safety device when working at a height) without providing them proper tools and equipment. There is a very strong human drive toward expediency and many workers will risk using the wrong tool or taking a short cut to get a job done.

5. Plan and Practice

Make sure every employee understands what needs to happen should there be a crisis, whether by a violent person or a natural disaster. A written plan of action should be included in your policies and procedures manual. It is a good idea to vet this plan with your legal counsel.

It isn’t enough to have a plan others can’t implement. Every quarter or at least every six months, alert your employees to a drill and practice it so people know what to do and where to go in case of specific emergencies.

6. Find New Ideas, Call in Experts if Needed

Just as it’s desirable to find work methods to achieve faster results at less cost, seek ways to eliminate risk. Spend some time with workers brainstorming for their safety ideas. Solicit their concerns about safety at work and act on their suggestions.

Law enforcement officials are usually willing to offer suggestions and even courses, and private enterprises can teach and provide security. Find someone in your community who is a proven expert in workplace safety. What is safest and most effective isn’t always intuitive, but an expert will know what works best.

7. Sometimes, There is More than One Right Answer

Too often employers see safety as an absolute — either a job is safe or not — when the truth is safety is relative. No job is absolutely without risk and therefore completely safe. But there are ways to approach a job to make it safer. Conversely, no job is completely unsafe.

There may be more than one right answer, but there are definite wrong ways to do things.  Read the most cited OSHA Violations for more information.

We hope that this guide will help your business to take steps necessary to improve the safety of your employees. Remember, although you may consider that implementing a plan will hurt now, think how much more expensive a workers compensation case or wrongful death lawsuit could be.  We thank Entrepreneur Magazine for providing us with cost effective workplace safety strategies and steps to keep employees safe, each providing the valuable inspiration for today’s article.

Nova Medical Centers cares about your employees.  With offices in Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia, we look to help your company get the best occupational health services and improve worker satisfaction and safety.  Contact us to learn more about our services to help maximize employee health and productivity.

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