Spotlight on Safety

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more commonly known as OSHA, employers pay about $1 billion per week for costs related to work injuries. On-the-job incidents risk the well-being of your employees, jeopardize profits, and threaten your ability to run a successful business. For many reasons, employee safety should be a critical concern for all business owners.
While workplace hazards will vary across facilities, industries, and job sites, there are some best practices all leaders should observe to encourage safety among your employees.

Set the Tone

An organizational focus on safety begins with leadership. When employees see managers demonstrating concern for safety, they will follow suit. Make sure your employees know safety is a core value of your company by setting safety-related goals, creating up programs and assignments to meet those goals, and allocating adequate resources. Consistently visit safety topics in team meetings and employee communications. Invest in signs and posters to prompt employees about safety concerns in specific work areas. Continually reinforcing these priorities will keep them at the forefront of employees’ minds and prevent accidents.

Encourage Worker Participation

No matter what level of the company they’re at, every employee needs to understand that safety is their responsibility. From their first day on the job, employees must be trained on the safety risks of their work, preventative actions, and how to report any incidents or safety concerns. It is also a good idea to involve employees in safety goal setting and progress tracking. Employees will have insights about aspects of their jobs that could use improvements, things that may be missed by management. Giving employees input and responsibility over improvements can also help employees grow professionally and demonstrate leadership potential.

Proactive vs Reactive Approaches

Many Safety Incentive programs take a “reactive” approach to safety. For example, if you implement a reward after 100 days without an accident, then remove or delay that reward when a violation occurs, you are reacting to an incident rather than preventing it. Another risk with these types of programs is they can discourage people from reporting out of fear of losing rewards.

It is important to implement swift consequences and changes when an injury occurs, but you should also think about proactive incentives to prevent incidents. For example, little benefits like food or safety “swag” can encourage people to participate in training. You could also offer rewards to those who report hazardous situations or come up with creative solutions to make their workspace safer.

As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Be thoughtful, intentional, and proactive as you work to develop of a culture of safety in your organization. Involve employees throughout the process, and take their suggestions seriously. Being diligent in these practices will keep everyone self and help your business thrive.

References

OSHA. 2021. Business Case for Safety and Health. Available at https://www.osha.gov/businesscase.
OSHA. 2016. Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. Available at https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/OSHA3885.pdf.

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