When you look around your workplace, your eyes likely land of benign and common items -- a fuzzy cubicle wall, an in-need-of-watering philodendron and a scribbled picture drawn by your child that you hung with pride. What you don’t likely notice is the array of dangers lurking in your workplace, waiting for a misstep or mistake that will leave an employee injured. Though they may not be immediately apparent to you, nearly all workplaces contain hazards. Instead of allowing your ignorance of these hazards to leave you or a co-worker injured, make thinking about -- and working to prevent -- workplace injuries a continued focus.
Effectively Train Workers
Your workers cannot live up to expectations that you haven’t communicated to them. Don’t assume that your workers know the proper procedures for engaging in workplace behaviors or understand the risks involved in violating safety-related rules. Instead, demonstrate your commitment to workplace safety and ensure that all understand the expectations and procedures by implementing a training program. At this training, or series of trainings, show workers explicitly what you want them to do. For example, demonstrate proper lifting procedure or appropriate machine usage. In addition to training, it is also vital to keep reminders of safety procedures ever-present. By posting guidelines for proper lifting procedures and even evacuation plans, you can increase the likelihood that employees commit these principles to memory.
Develop a Reporting Procedure
Oftentimes, workers who engage in unsafe behaviors only do so when they know that supervisors aren’t looking. Enlist the help of your workforce in spotting safety-rule-breaking behaviors by creating a procedure for reporting these unsafe behaviors. Place a locked box somewhere in your workplace and ask employees to write notes to you if they witness co-workers being unsafe, or establish an email address specifically for use in reporting such accounts. By empowering workers to report dangerous behaviors confidentially, with no one privy to the report but those in charge, you enable to them to effectively communicate their concerns without risking offending co-workers.
Avoid Overworking Employees
Employees are more likely to cut corners or make avoidable mistakes when they are overworked and, as a result, overtired, reminds the Better Health Channel. If you are in a position of scheduling power, avoid crafting schedules that will leave workers spending large chunks of time on the job and, particularly when long stretches of work are unavoidable, pepper in breaks. If you don’t have this power, do your part by encouraging workers to take their breaks as a way to physically and mentally refresh themselves as refreshed workers are less prone to injury-producing accidents.
Be Appropriately Suspicious
The era of open and accessible office places is, unfortunately, a bygone one. With workplace violence an unfortunate reality, protecting yourself and co-workers from this risk is a must. If you are in charge of keeping the workplace safe, lock all doors during the day, restricting access to only those who have keys or an electronic entry card. When a visitor comes to your workplace, do you due diligence and make sure they are who they say they are. While this may all seem overly cautious, the reality is that these preventative measures are necessary and could save lives.
With the hustle and bustle of work keeping employees constantly engaged, it can be easy for them to forget to think about workplace safety. Make this topic a priority within your workplace by establishing a safety taskforce. Gather a group of safety-focused individuals and set up regular meetings. At these meetings, the group can discuss potential safety concerns and actively plan to reduce the dangers present in the workplace. They can, for example, plan for purchase of proper personal safety equipment or work to ensure that Material Safety Data Sheets are available and accessible.
- Health and Safety Authority: Improving Safety Behaviour at Work
- Occupational Safety and Health Service: Improving Workplace Safety and Health
- Better Health Channel: 10 Tips for Workplace Safety
- Talking Safety: Tips to Stay Safe at Work
- National Crime Prevention Council: Tips for Staying Safe at Work
- NOAA: Team + Work = Safety
- Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images