Having a workplace safety program in place is crucial to the success of many businesses. These programs are needed for more businesses than you would think—if you don’t have a workplace safety program in place, take this as your sign to instill one. The programs aren’t as difficult or costly as you may think! Plenty of resources exist to help you through the process. The Zoomget team has broken them down into six basic steps.
1. Economics of Safety
Employers in every industry should know how workplace injuries can impact not only productivity but also the end result. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. Direct costs associated with workplace injuries include workers’ compensation, medical expenses, legal fees, and higher insurance premiums. Indirect costs can include emotional damage to the team, the cost of training a new employee, OSHA fines, overtime hours to cover the loss of an employee, and damaged equipment, among many others.
The National Safety Council suggests that on average a workplace death can cost a business upward of $1.42 million. The number can grow exponentially depending on the circumstances and depth of indirect costs.
The National Safety Council also states that every $1 invested in injury prevention can provide a return between $2 and $6. Insurance companies take workplace safety programs into considerations during the event of an accident and payout. Having a workplace safety program in place can provide a benefit to your insurance premiums. The goal of having a workplace safety program in place is not just to avoid large fines, but also to protect your employees.
2. Culture of Safety
All of this adds up to a simple bottom line for businesses: You can’t afford not to have a safety program. To make it work, safety must become a top priority. When thinking through your strategies, sharing, and implementation in the workplace, you must clearly convey your commitment at every step.
Start by establishing a written policy signed by management that details the organization’s commitment to in-house employees as well as contractors and vendors. The more you are able to emphasize safety frequently in casual conversation, and lead by example, the better results your program will create.
Define your program’s goals—reducing injury-related absence among employees as well as lowering insurance premiums and workers’ compensation payouts—while also allocating sufficient resources to achieve the program goals. Not every step you take needs to be a major expenditure, of course, but workplace safety is not the time to cut corners to save a few dollars.
Plan carefully and update often. A good way to begin is by downloading a safety checklist and following it item by item. There are also a variety of resources available to help in the process like the small business handbook by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that provides a plethora of information for establishing safety protocols.
Talk to your people. Soliciting and obtaining employee feedback on procedures, equipment, and environment is a crucial part of creating a cohesive and informed workplace. Those who are on the front lines, whether using tools and machinery or computer and software equipment, should have as much input into changes being made as possible as they are directly in the line of impact.
Identify problems and be on guard for risk factors. The sooner you are able to identify problems, risks, or potential hazards, the better you are able to combat the problem prior to any incident occurring.
Establishing a simple system for incident reporting is one of the most important factors in any safety program. Ensuring your employees feel comfortable coming forward is also a crucial to ensure a well-rounded functioning program. It is much easier and less costly for everyone involved if workers are encouraged to bring matters directly to the attention of their supervisor. This allows for issues and incidents to be handled promptly and efficiently.
3. Awareness of Surroundings
Once the baseline of your safety program is in place, take the time to account for any special challenges or circumstances that your environment may pose. Taking frequent walks on your premises to look for hazards is a great step that can be done daily. This will allow you to collect new ideas on how to better improve your environment and implement new initiatives. Involving the full team of employees in this can help drive additional ownership in promoting workplace safety.
Recycling, donating, or tossing items that are no longer needed is a great way to ensure the workplace is safe. This can also include properly disposing of hazardous materials, keeping walkways clear, minimizing the risk of falling objects. and ensuring that all hazardous tools are stored properly. Checking for electrical hazards is also something that should be done frequently. Electrocution is one of the top five causes of death in the workplace; employees under age 25 have the highest risk of electrical shock. Defining, creating, and training employees with the best fire safety practices is another environmental practice that is key to employee and environmental safety.
4. Implement Training
Regardless of the health and safety program you establish in your business it will not be successful without the proper employee training. The best workplace safety programs are successful because of the well-trained workforce backing the programs. There are many resources available to help guide you through the training process such as videos, online courses, and consultations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has an interactive game-based training tool that is a great starting point for learning the core concepts of hazard detection.
Common-sense policies may seem like a given but ensuring that all employees are familiar and trained across all policies establishes a well-rounded workplace safety program. This can include ensuring employees who are using high-risk tools and machinery have demonstrated ample proficiency, guiding best practices when lifting, and requiring appropriate clothing.
Reducing workplace stress is also a key consideration in workplace safety. Those who feel the additional burdens of tight deadlines consistently are more likely to put their, and potentially others’, safety at risk. Additionally, mental and emotional health issues can evoke daring behavior that could potentially involve direct disregard for workplace safety practices. Minimizing foolish behavior in high-risk areas and ensuring employees are having ample breaks are two great ways to minimize additional safety risks.
5. Provide Visual Aids
Having visual signage advocating for safe behavior often seems like a given, but the importance simply cannot be overstated. Signage can keep eyes busy and brains alert. You can also have employees keep track and record daily safety information across departments for interactive daily monitoring of safety initiatives. Hands-on participation is a major component in changing safety culture. When using slogans across your signage, ensuring you have a varied collection that you are able to rotate frequently keeps the message fresh. Most of us are guided to visuals and the use of an engaging graphic has the ability to deliver and stick the messaging. The use of video is also a great visual that can deliver workplace safety messages through humor and inviting visual content.
6. Use the Right PPE
Every industry has its own unique risks some are more dangerous than others, employers are responsible for providing the right personal protective equipment for their employees to minimize risk. The most common form of PPE is gloves, specifically disposable gloves. Providing protection from harsh chemicals, avoiding cross contamination, and preventing the spread of infection are some of the many safety benefits disposable gloves can provide.
Educating employees on how to properly use and wear PPE is just as important as using it. When it comes to disposable gloves for barrier protection, employers must be mindful of thickness, chemical resistance, puncture resistance and latex sensitivities. Gloves are just one of the many different protective gears than can be worn to help drive workplace safety.
Zoomget works to provide business with the best in disposable gloves, competitive pricing, and outstanding service to help you more effectively run your business and workplace safety.