Discussions of workplace safety often bring up images of road construction crews wearing orange vests or janitors placing yellow caution signs over spills on the floor. But workplace safety is important in all places of business, even office jobs that don't seem as dangerous as those working with heavy equipment.
Get Employees Involved
Hiring new employees often involves handing them tons of paperwork to sign. This often includes a safety manual, although it's unlikely the employee will read it cover to cover before signing the acknowledgement form. Getting employees involved in crafting a safety plan can help educate them about workplace safety. Ask employees for suggestions and hold an officewide safety audit, pointing out safety flaws as a group and developing solutions and policies together. For example, if your office has a kitchen without a fire extinguisher or there's no first-aid kit available, employees can note these deficiencies and proceed with a plan to purchase the necessary safety items.
Safety doesn't weigh on the minds of workers on a daily basis in most office settings, but assigning a safety manager can help keep people focused on reducing accidents and injuries. The safety manager doesn't have to be a separate, full-time position. Instead, you can assign the duties to an existing staff person, such as the human resources director or operations director. This person helps keep employees involved in the safety process and watches for everyday dangers, such as someone lifting a heavy box incorrectly.
Written Policies and Meetings
As with any important policy, it's best to put it in writing and give copies to everyone working at the company. Keep a copy on your intranet for the more technologically savvy crowd. Inform employees of changes and updates by email and with hard copies to attach to their existing policy manuals. In addition, keep them focused on safety by referring to the manuals during periodic safety meetings. These can be just a few minutes during a scheduled staff meeting or day-long safety training sessions, depending on your needs. Talking about safety during meetings helps ensure all employees hear the same information and have an opportunity to offer feedback or ideas.
In some industries, such as construction or manufacturing, it's common to give incentives or bonuses to departments or individuals who avoid accidents for a certain length of time. This is a bit more difficult in an office environment, where people aren't as likely to face electrocution or falls from heights on a daily basis. Be creative with the incentives, offering points to people who are caught performing tasks safely, such as lifting with their legs instead of their backs or who clean up potentially slippery spills without being asked to. When a person or department earns enough points, provide a reward such as a pizza party or restaurant gift certificate. You can also offer rewards for employees who suggest safety solutions that you implement.
- Occupational Safety and Health Service: The A to Z Book of Bright Ideas for Promoting Safety and Health in Your Place of Work
- National Crime Prevention Council: Tips for Staying Safe at Work
- Entrepreneur: Establish a Workplace Safety Policy
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Safety and Health Topics
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