Safety Guidelines: Eight Tips For a Safer Workplace
From hazard assessment to safety training, there are numerous actions employers can take to protect employees. Here are just a few.
- By Ben Michael
- Jan 12, 2023
Workplace safety is essential, but do employees feel this way, and how can employers achieve it?
According to the Employee Safety Report, 73 percent of employees say that feeling safe in their places of work is “extremely important,” while nine out of ten employees believe it’s their employer’s duty to protect them and ensure their safety.
To understand the significance of safety and health on worksites, you should strive for promoting risk-free conditions for your employees. This guide will help you do that effectively. Follow these instructions to pave the way for a healthier and safer work environment.
Eight Key Tips on How to Create a Safe Workplace
1. Learn workplace safety laws. Employers in the U.S. must comply with all applicable federal state OSHA standards, laws and regulations imposed on businesses.
What can be the consequences of breaking these laws? “In case companies violate the OSHA laws, whether unknowingly or willingly, they may face warnings, citations, civil monetary penalties, or even criminal sanctions,” explained Jake Hill, Founder of DebtHammer.
“Depending on the seriousness of a situation, there may be fines reaching the maximum of $14,000 for a serious violation to $145,000 for a willful or repeated one or even a term of imprisonment,” Jake highlighted.
In 2014, criminal charges were brought against Randall Miller, a director of Film Allman LLC. He was sentenced to ten years in prison over a worksite fatality—the death of Sarah Jones, his camera assistant.
You might need to have a deeper look at the OSHA laws and Workers’ Rights, a document created by OSHA, if you want to be aware of the important aspects they cover about healthful working conditions and stay away from breaking the law.
2. Identify and address risks. First and foremost, give due importance to the most widespread types of hazards on worksites:
- Physical (uncomfortable temperature, poor lighting, lack of fresh air, electrical injuries, fire safety risks, etc.)
- Biological (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.)
- Ergonomic (improperly adjusted chair/workstation, awkward posture, vibration, etc.)
- Chemical (paints, glues, gasses, etc.)
- Organizational and workflow stressors (too much workload, violence, harassment, etc.)
- Slips, trips and falls
In 2021, there were 2.6 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in the U.S.
Concerning harassment, 38 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work. What’s worse, 87 to 94 percent of individuals, on average, don’t file complaints after such cases.
According to Colin Palfrey, CMO of Crediful, “As an employer, you should write and implement a workplace safety policy, conduct inspections regularly and eliminate all safety and health hazards.”
3. Prepare the necessary safety gear. For example, to prioritize ergonomics, organizations can equip their employees with ergonomic harnesses, personal anti-fatigue mat insoles, back support belts and adjustable workstations, among other things, or take advantage of ergonomics software.
Employers may also need to provide PPE like hard hats, gloves, knee pads, earmuffs or earplugs, safety shoes and goggles, respirators or safety vests/suits.
You should also utilize appropriate fall protection measures and warning signs. Additionally, make sure buildings have fire, water and heat alarm systems.
In some settings, there are panic buttons that are used by employees in an emergency. These can be installed under a desk. As an alternative, employees can download mobile applications with panic alarms.
4. Consider innovative solutions for safety and health. You can create a safer workplace by adopting automation and artificial intelligence (AI). AI-powered tools and Internet of Things (IoT) devices can control equipment and PPE usage, monitor the security-critical distance between machines and employees, screen temperature or identify people facing dangerous situations or health risks. For example, they can detect employees’ movements and spot particular health-related symptoms, like backaches, and then send alarm messages.
Alcohol is still the number one threat to a safe workplace, and on-the-road employees may face additional risks. Based on these statistics, in the U.S., 32 people die and 920 people get injured every day in alcohol-impaired crashes. That’s why taxi and bus companies, for example, are planning to use built-in DADSS sensors to prevent drunk driving and guarantee their drivers are alcohol-free and can perform their duties safely.
5. Implement coronavirus protection measures. One in four U.S. employees fears catching this virus at work. So how can you protect your company from COVID-19?
Apart from traditional respiratory and hand protection, employers also benefit from new safety technologies in the time of COVID-19. Smart PPE and wearables can include detectors, sensors, data transfer modules, buzzers, etc.
“Smart wearable systems are undeniably the next generation of risk-aversion technology in the workplace,” believes Greg Heilers, Co-Founder of Jolly SEO. “Employers may also be interested in wireless sensing systems that can detect voluntary sneezes and coughs, assess their frequency and nature, and warn people about the possible coronavirus infection.”
6. Hire occupational therapists (OTs). OTs are healthcare professionals who specialize in occupational therapy aimed at improving employee health. They leverage therapeutic activities and equipment in order to handle mental and physical health complaints that impact a employees’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks.
Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, recommends including massage therapy in an occupational therapy strategy. He emphasized that “therapeutic or medical massages are particularly beneficial for seniors. You can offer geriatric massage therapy to the employees in their older years. Generally, such relaxation sessions at the office can last around 10–15 mins per employee. The important thing is that people don’t necessarily have to go to the office massage room and take off their clothes if they don’t feel comfortable. It can be a workplace chair massage focused on particular body parts: arms, neck, shoulders, etc.”
One of the recent studies shows that worksite massage therapy can reduce blood pressure and employee strain, relieve stress, and beat depression.
7. Conduct regular training for employees. Despite the fact that educating employees should be a consistent part of a workplace safety plan, companies find it rather challenging. Roughly 59 percent of them cannot find time for such programs, while 31 percent cannot define effective training methods.
Here’s a list of some training types you might find useful for your company:
You can also opt for simulation learning via scenario-based situations. But more importantly, make it a habitual practice so that the training processes are organized regularly.
8. Recognize your employees’ achievements in maintaining safe work. A good office safety culture cannot be achieved without recognizing and rewarding your team members if they play by the rules and follow all the requirements. You should deliver effective feedback and promote safe behavior with rewards and recognition.
Here’s a list of possible incentives for your safety reward program:
- Paid time off
- Gift cards
- Extra break time
- Safety hero/heroine certificates
- Organization-wide verbal praise
Read the study guide Introduction to Safety Recognition to create an OSHA-approved safety incentive program.
Improving Workplace Safety: Employer’s Takeaways
Ultimately, your key takeaways from this article are the elements that constitute a safe workplace:
- Legal preparation
- Hazard and risk assessment
- Protective gear
- Innovative approaches to worksite safety (automation, AI, IoT)
- COVID-19 protection measures
- Occupational therapy
- Employee safety training
- Safety recognition program
With the above guidelines, you can promote healthier working conditions and guarantee your employees full protection from risks.
A few last things to keep in mind: look towards the future, monitor how safety will evolve and modernize your strategy accordingly.