Work-related injuries and illnesses are inevitable. Injuries happen all year round—from muscle sprains to tendonitis and, in worse cases, nerve damage. This poses a challenge to human resource managers. They need to come up with a workplace safety policy to ensure the welfare of their employees. They can also assist employers by conducting research and organizing training in work-safety-related topics.
Human resource managers are at the forefront of creating a workplace safety culture. They are tasked to communicate the necessity of workplace safety to employees. Their program should be clear and concise and should create a win-win solution for employers and their employees. The program can subsequently benefit the business in the form of employees’ health, productivity, and revenue.
Here are seven ways to encourage workplace safety culture:
1. Provide comprehensive training.
Since employees are exposed to hazards and risks in the workplace, human resource managers need to provide them with comprehensive training that’s necessary for their positions. This may be conducted during the employees’ first week or month at work, before they are allowed to handle equipment and tools. Training may also be conducted—annually or semi-annually—to update employees regarding upgrades or current trends.
In addition, employees should undergo training in first aid process. They need to have knowledge about what to do during emergency situations so that they can help mitigate or eliminate workplace-related injuries. Employers can conduct quarterly evacuation drills so that their employees will know how to follow emergency procedures.
2. Hold regular meetings.
While training can be conducted periodically, meetings can be held regularly—at the beginning of each workweek, for instance. During these meetings, managers may stress the importance of workplace safety and allow room to discuss best practices that promote the welfare of employees. Constant reminders on workplace safety, which are highlighted regularly, can prepare employees should accidents happen.
3. Provide personal protective equipment.
One sure way for employers to protect their employees is by providing them with personal protective equipment (PPE). This gear offers protection against potential hazards that may cause injury—machinery, falls, and substances. For example, the right fire-resistant personal protective equipment or FR PPE can protect employees who are exposed to extreme temperatures. The right gear minimizes the risks—potentially save lives—that are caused by performing hazardous tasks.
It is also vital that employees undergo proper training in the proper use of the gear. They need to be familiar with how to properly put on and put off the protective gear without contaminating their skin.
4. Provide the right tools; conduct regular inspections.
Employees can perform their tasks efficiently and productively if they are given the right equipment and tools. Machine malfunctions, however, can cause injuries in the workplace. Thus, there is a need to regularly inspect these machines and tools. Ensure that they are cleaned and maintained well.
5. Encourage trust among employees.
Building trust is key to promoting a culture of safety in the workplace. There should be a good rapport and an open and two-way communication line between human resource managers and employees. Once there’s trust, employees can express their concerns on safety issues. It’s easier for them to raise their health and safety concerns. They can easily report potential hazards and identify other risks that the company may have missed. Keeping lines open also makes it easier for managers to effectively promote workplace safety.
6. Enforce workplace ergonomics; use labels and signs.
Tangled cords and disorganized tools are potential workplace hazards, and so are slippery floors. The Japanese principle of organization or 5S’s—seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain)—applies here. Every workplace that promotes a culture of safety should ensure that the tools are sorted and unnecessary items removed. Things are set in order and are placed in an optimal place so that they can be easily located whenever they’re needed.
Regularly sweep and clean the floors; make sure that there are no spills and litter. Standardize the process to sort, order, and clean. Employees should be able to consciously observe these principles so that they no longer need to be reminded.
Using labels and signs and keeping work areas clean are some basic steps in ensuring safety in the workplace. In the form of pictures, labels and signs are inexpensive and effective tools to convey important information. Since they are graphic, attractive, and colorful, they’re also easier to understand, even for the inexperienced worker.
7. Offer an incentive or reward for employees.
To encourage workplace safety, employers may give out rewards or incentives to employees who follow the safety policies. Rewards will motivate them to follow the policies, resulting in fewer work-related injuries.
Creating a culture of safety in the workplace should be everyone’s priority. It can be achieved through conscious effort and cooperation between the employers and the employees.