Workplace safety continues to be a key area of interest among employers, employees, safety organizations, and policymakers.
Considering that a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds, equating to 4.7 million injuries annually, your workplace must remain proactive and compliant.
As an employer, both state and federal laws require you to follow specific safety rules and regulations. However, sometimes, it is not that black and white. In addition to safety measures, it’s critical that you keep your employee engaged. This will improve your bottom line and further support your company’s safety culture.
What Qualifies as Unsafe Working Conditions?
A work environment can quickly become unsafe if an employee is not able to perform their required duties due to a workplace’s physical conditions. For example, exposure to hazardous materials, broken equipment, or the presence of asbestos.
It’s also important to prevent some of the most common safety violations, including:
- Falling objects
- Toxic exposure
- Slip and fall hazards
- Failure to fix any dangerous structures
- Negligence regarding repetitive stress injuries
As an employer, you must:
- Provide employees with a warning system regarding potential hazards
- Post OSHA posters
- Ensure all equipment is properly serviced
- Retain records of any incidents
- Seek continual inspection to stay compliant with all OSHA regulations
Remaining aware of unsafe working conditions can make all the difference. In contrast, if you are negligent, this could result in a lawsuit.
To Avoid a Lawsuit, Consider These 5 Workplace Safety Tips
Encouraging greater engagement is key to your future success and the safety of your employees. Unfortunately, less than one-third of the U.S. workforce feels engaged at work, which may directly impact unsafe working conditions. One study found that companies with high engagement levels have 70% fewer safety incidents than companies with lower levels of employee engagement.
The tips below can help you cultivate a safe work environment, protecting both your employees and business.
1. Invest in training and involve employees in your company’s safety culture
Ongoing training ensures the success of your employees and your business. When your team is not properly trained, their safety can quickly become compromised. While developing training programs, always relate back to your company’s safety culture; and when scheduling upcoming changes, inform your workers. It’s important to welcome open discussion, especially if anything is unclear — especially in terms of any potential health effects associated with the chemicals your employees will be working with.
2. Develop emergency procedures and gain feedback
As part of their training, employees should be mindful of your written safety plan. This plan will clearly outline the procedures you and your employees must take if an emergency or injury occurs. Include everything they would need to know in terms of first aid. To ensure that all employees have read the plan, go over it in a meeting or during training refreshers. Post your plan in an area that is easily accessible and encourages feedback. If an employee has a better idea that could help reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, it may be time to tweak your plan.
3. Position your employees’ well-being as a priority
Engaged employees are those that feel respected. From job design to management style, the goal here is to promote mutual trust and understanding. When employees feel as though they can discuss any issues with you, you could prevent an accident from occurring, all while developing a more inclusive and safe company culture. Make it apparent that you care about the health and safety of your team.
4. Maintain all tools and equipment and facilitate two-way communication
Check and maintain all tools and equipment regularly to ensure that all parts are in working order. “Maintenance” refers to many necessary activities, including testing, measurements, inspections, replacements, and adjustments. Taking this step can significantly reduce the number of workplace accidents and health issues, including those that end in death. Most importantly, make your employees feel as though they can come to you if they’re concerned. Conduct regular safety meetings to involve your team.
5. Post signs if hazards are present and recognize employees
In some cases, hazards are temporary. If there is a spill on the floor, you need to warn employees to take extra precautions when navigating that area. In other cases, hazards are ongoing or permanent, such as the use of sharp tools or chemicals. Refer to OSHA’s specifications for accident prevention signs and tags to ensure compliance. When employees go above and beyond to ensure they follow all safety measures, a simple thank you can go a long way. This will reinforce safe behavior, set a good example, and foster engagement.
The key to maintaining a safe and compliant workplace is to remain proactive — not reactive. This will allow you to thrive as a company and avoid common pitfalls.
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