In 2019, the United States witnessed a 2% increase in fatal work injuries from 2018, with over five-thousand deaths. This is the highest annual number of fatal workplace injuries since 2007, so it’s no surprise that employees across the United States are becoming increasingly concerned with safety at work.
Even with OSHA signage posted at every corner of your workplace, there may be some unsafe working conditions on the premises that you’re not aware of. Still, even if you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed all your T’s, there are seven steps your business should take to help employees feel safe and at ease.
1. Train Your Employees Well
This step is essential to improving safe working conditions but is often overlooked by business owners and human resource managers alike.
Training new employees how to do their job and fit in with the rest of the team is a basic expectation during the hiring process, but you should also be training them in all of the relevant safety procedures for their tasks and the area they’ll be working in. They’ll be able to handle an emergency quickly if one occurs and prevent any minimal injuries from happening.
Additionally, performing annual or biannual safety reviews is a great way to make sure everyone remembers their training. If you’re unhappy with their progress, then you can restart the training process.
2. Listen to Employee Concerns
Keeping an open line of communication between yourself and your employees benefits many areas, including safety. Listening to employees’ concerns about unsafe areas in the workplace is especially important if you tend to be sequestered away in an office for most of the day or out meeting with clients and partners.
When an employee notices an unsafe area or a coworker violating safety protocols, you should be open and accepting of their concerns, as any hostility will demotivate them from coming forward. Sometimes, employees will prefer to be kept anonymous (especially when reporting a coworker), so consider creating an anonymous concerns and comments box.
Once you receive a viable concern, address it quickly so your employees know that you care about their safety.
3. Keep a Clean Environment
An untidy workplace can lead to unprecedented and dangerous workplace injuries. Leaving equipment or trash in an open walking area means that someone can easily trip and break something or a nearby piece of equipment. Everyone should also clean up spills quickly, and any boxes or equipment stored and stacked neatly.
Perform regular workplace inspections to make sure everything is tidy and organized.
4. Post Signs and Labels
Signs and labels are a valuable, low-cost tool that can help reduce workplace injuries when used correctly. There are plenty of safety signs created by OSHA and ANSI that help remind employees of proper procedures, like wearing a hard hat in specified areas or watching for forklifts in a busy warehouse.
Placing these signs in designated areas means that employees will follow proper procedures and watch their surroundings. You can also post signs reminding workers to keep their areas clean and frequently stretch to prevent muscle injuries.
Having these signs in abundance and plain sight also protects you from being liable for any accidents.
5. Partner With Occupational Clinicals and Chiropractors
Sitting or standing down for a prolonged period can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal and health problems, as well as heavy manual labor like lifting heavy objects frequently.
An occupational medicine clinician specializes in workplace injuries and workplace-induced pain. You can request a visit where a clinician will come and investigate your business, informing you of any occupational hazards they notice and steps you can take to improve and provide safe working conditions.
Chiropractors can notice when employees are sitting or standing in uncomfortable positions too long and give advice on proper stretching procedures.
6. Provide the Right Tools
Make sure your employees have access to the right tools and equipment for the job. Flimsy or damaged hard hats, old tools, and faded reflective vests are all accidents waiting to happen. Even stationery office equipment should be in good working condition, including office chairs, staplers, and scissors.
Perform daily inspections to make sure everything is in top shape. Additionally, all equipment should be maintained and serviced on a regular basis.
7. Host Regular Meetings
The final step to providing safe working conditions for your employees is to hold frequent workplace safety meetings. Here, you can review safety rules and procedures as well as receive input from employees who may have questions or concerns.
If you already host regular workplace meetings, consider adding a few extra minutes to review safe working conditions.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to provide safe working conditions, solid tools and equipment, and resources to help keep your employees safe and out of harm’s way.
The last thing you want is a fatality or injury on the job that lands you in a deep pile of paperwork and lawsuits. Starting with the seven steps above to increase safety in the workplace protects both you and your employees from dangerous situations and keeps morale high.