The workplace should be an environment where employees can use their skills, grow into their full potential, and gain personal and professional satisfaction. Sounds good, right?
But none of this is possible if the workplace isn’t safe first. Yet safety is one of those things we tend to think about only after something bad happens. Repeat after us: safety shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Creating a safe workplace involves careful planning. Here are six basic workplace safety tips to guide you.
1. Participate in National Safety Month Every Year. June is National Safety Month, a time devoted to “preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road.” If your business participates in National Safety Month every year, it sends a message to employees that your organization is committed to workplace safety. This, in turn, encourages employees to help foster a culture of safety.
See, it’s not enough for you to preach about workplace safety. Your workers need to buy into it as well. It’s important that they don’t see this as one more protocol they have to manage or something that corporate offices have foisted on the masses in order to satisfy government regulators.
People’s safety matters. It’s as simple as that. And if you keep it simple, people will “get” it and come to embrace this important issue as their own. Celebrating National Safety Month goes a long way in making sure this happens.
2. Offer safety training and relevant certifications. Someone slices open his hand while cutting a bagel in the office kitchen. Another person suffers shortness of breath and collapses in the lobby. Someone else chokes on a piece of apple while working in her cube. Would you and your employees know what to do in these situations? They should because illnesses, accidents, and disasters can strike anytime, anywhere.
Make sure you and your employees are prepared. Offer safety training and certifications in things like CPR and first aid. The more people who know these valuable skills, the safer everyone is going to be. A good resource is the American Red Cross, which offers group training tailored to your organization’s needs, off-site classes, and even online classes. The National Safety Council also offers comprehensive training courses, including ones that address OSHA compliance.
3. Create and practice an emergency preparedness plan. Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tornados), and other threats (e.g. a shooter on the premises) require people to make split-second decisions—ones that could mean the difference between life and death. Preparedness is your best defense. Create a plan that addresses various scenarios and run drills at least once a year (try for quarterly, if you can swing it). Your plan should make sure people know where they should go and what they need to do.
4. Conduct regular equipment checkups. Fire alarms, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), flashlights, safety glasses, safety reflector lights—these are all things that you must maintain and make sure are in working order. Mark it on workplace calendars and/or use Daylight Saving as your cue. When you change the clocks, you conduct these checkups.
5. Promote the link between safety and wellness. Workplace safety and workplace wellness go hand in hand. Workplace wellness might involve discussions around:
- Proper posture while sitting at desks
- Proper height of computer monitors to avoid eyestrain
- Meditation techniques to combat stress
- Healthful snack/vending options
- Exercise options (e.g. installing walking desks or starting a lunch “walking” club)
6. Take action. When an accident or some other unfortunate event occurs, address the issue immediately. This might involve re-training staff or instituting new procedures. Welcome input from everyone.
How do you foster a safe workplace? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments.