Do your employees know not to plug that cord in by the leaky faucet? And what about lifting heavy boxes? Do they know how to lift safely, and when an item requires extra lifting help to prevent a possible injury? Are they clear on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements?
There are so many workplace safety topics and areas to cover, and it may be tough to know where to start when trying to steer employees toward compliance with state, federal, or industry standards. When new safety regulations are enacted, even seasoned employees may need additional job site safety training.
"...employers often find that changes made to improve workplace safety and health can result in significant improvements to their organization's productivity and financial performance."
The good news is, you’re not alone. Safety in the workplace is something that every regulated organization in the country must follow to ensure the well-being of their employees, customers, and even bystanders. But workplace safety, like most everything else these days, is constantly evolving. Odds are the training you provided five years ago, or even last year, is out-of-date in some aspect.
Now more than ever before, a solid foundation of current and on-going safety training is needed to keep up with all of the changes while simultaneously keeping the workplace running as smoothly and safely as possible.
It’s proven that companies and organizations that adhere to safety training often see a decrease in workplace injuries, incidents, and fatalities.That means fewer fines and lawsuits, along with less work time missed due to injuries.
According to OSHA, enacting a viable safety program will:
[…]Result in cost savings in a variety of areas, such as lowering workers' compensation costs and medical expenses, avoiding OSHA penalties, and reducing costs to train replacement employees and conduct accident investigations. In addition, employers often find that changes made to improve workplace safety and health can result in significant improvements to their organization's productivity and financial performance.
Neglecting to provide adequate safety programs in the workplace could lead to some dire consequences. To see just how big of an impact it could have, $afety Pays Program allows website users to physically calculate the costs that a range of seemingly preventable accidents will have on employees and the organization as a whole. For example, when worker’s compensation and indirect costs are factored in, something like a burn could cost a company nearly $100,000 in damages, insurance costs, and loss of productivity. But with proper safety training, burns at the workplace can easily be prevented.
Keep in mind that while training is necessary for all organizations, each workplace is created differently and should focus on areas that pertain to its specified operations. And while specialized safety programs may be a primary focus, don’t forget that there are some basic workplace safety tips that can still be applied to most businesses, such as:
People absorb information differently. Some prefer to read it on paper, and others respond better when it’s spoken aloud. But regardless of how your employees are informed of safety training initiatives, make sure that they understand and acknowledge the actions they need to take to comply. Make yourself available to any questions they may have, and if you don’t know the answer, contact your OSHA representative to find out.
You are the eyes and ears of your organization’s safety efforts, so it’s up to you to watch and listen to how each employee performs their day-to-day duties. Are they taking shortcuts and cutting corners? Are they making an extra effort to comply with safety regulations? These are all things that can and should be addressed during safety training courses and classes. Additionally, if an employee sees something unsafe, or notices unsafe habits among his/her coworkers, make sure they know that they can come to you with safety concerns.
Involve each employee in the planning of safety programs. According to Arbill, a leader in industrial safety products, “The single most powerful source of motivation for workplace safety is employee ownership of the safety process.”
No matter your industry, a clean work environment will contribute immensely to a safer one. Make sure the floors are clear of electrical cords and other trip and fall hazards. Label potentially dangerous materials, and make sure trash bins (especially those with chemical or bio-hazards) are emptied regularly. Hire qualified professionals to deal with electrical, plumbing, or structural hazards. A clean work space will yield higher rates of productivity from your employees while also decreasing the potential for preventable injuries and incidents.
It’s imperative to revisit your safety guidelines every year, as they are constantly changing and adapting. Conduct yearly workplace inspections, as well as a thorough review of your safety programs and training courses at minimum, once a year. Additionally, routine inspections of your workplace should happen frequently to identify any hazards that may be lurking where you least expect them.
And even though it’s necessary to plan for major safety concerns, the easiest way you can make a difference will come from eliminating smaller safety violations that tend to contribute the most to frequent injuries.
A staff well trained in workplace safety procedures is less likely to take risks that could result in injuries...or worse. And they can also become your best tool for spotting hazards on the job site, so you can correct problems before they become tragedies.
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