Workplace safety can be expensive and difficult to manage at times, but it should always be your top priority as a business owner. In addition to mitigating negative effects, prioritizing workplace safety can bring measurable advantages to your business – ultimately exceeding whatever you’re forced to invest in it.
Building a culture of safety and enforcing your rules and regulations is inarguably a net positive – so how do you do it?
The Value of Workplace Safety
Prioritizing and improving workplace safety will benefit your business in a number of ways:
· Healthier workers
The obvious benefit here is that your workers are going to be safer and better protected. They’re going to be less susceptible to injury and death, and should be healthier overall. If you care about your employees, this is the most important benefit and the one that trumps all the others.
· Fewer lawsuits and legal expenses
Construction accident attorneys, personal injury lawyers, and other legal professionals make their living negotiating settlements and bringing court cases against employers who neglected employee safety. According to The Lipsig Firm, even a single construction accident lawsuit can be devastating financially. If your workplace is found to be unsafe, or if people within your business are found to be negligent and responsible for someone else’s injuries, it could cost you dearly. You can avoid all these lawsuits and legal expenses if you just maintain a safe workplace environment.
· Lower medical expenses
As an employer, you’re likely responsible for paying for workers’ compensation insurance, and you may be responsible for paying directly for an employee’s medical expenses following a workplace accident. Proactive investments in workplace safety are usually cheaper than paying extra premiums for workers’ comp insurance and medical bills. Even a single accident can cause inordinate damages, so anything you can do to prevent these accidents is going to benefit your bottom line.
· Confidence and security
When your workplace is safer, everyone is going to feel more confident and more secure in that workplace. Your employees will feel more comfortable and safer when working, and that’s going to be reflected in their productivity, efficiency and overall attitude.
· Employee morale and retention
When employees feel like they’re safe, they tend to have higher morale. They’re happier, more productive, and they contribute to a more positive atmosphere in your business. This has a cumulative and compounding effect, since happy employees tend to produce and influence more happy employees. This is also beneficial for your employee retention, since when employees are happy and safe, they stick with your organization. The average cost of training a new employee is more than $1,200, and you know how many headaches there are when trying to recruit, hire, and train new people. Any improvement to employee retention will be valuable.
· Recruitment and partnership potential
Keep in mind that maintaining workplace safety is also good for your business reputation. Prospective employees are going to be more interested in working for you if they know they’re going to be safe at your business. You might even benefit from more partnerships and clients with your better reputation in place.
How to Improve Workplace Safety
Now that we’ve established why workplace safety should be your top priority, what actionable steps can you take to improve that workplace safety?
· Start with the culture
Workplace safety must be built on the foundation of your organizational culture. If your organization, and everyone in it, is focused on maintaining and improving safety, it’s going to be much easier to maintain a safe workplace environment. Make sure everyone understands that safety is the top priority, and that no one should sacrifice safety for convenience or productivity. Institute this in your core values.
· Identify dangerous areas and activities
Proactively identify the most dangerous areas and activities that could threaten your employees. These require extra attention and additional safety measures.
· Establish unbreakable rules and protocols
Next, establish rules and protocols for operations within your business – and make those rules unbreakable. Make sure employees know that the consequences for violating safety regulations are harsh, up to and including termination for gross negligence. Repeat and re-teach these rules and protocols so there’s no doubt about their nature.
· Provide proper education and training
Employees that are properly educated and trained are better capable of conducting themselves safely and adhering to guidelines for workplace safety. Oftentimes, accidents come as a result of an ignorant employee who was never taught the proper way to handle a specific machine.
· Provide safety equipment
Your employees can’t wear protective equipment unless the equipment is made available to them. Make sure you have plenty of hard hats, goggles, gloves, aprons, and other forms of safety equipment available so that all your employees can use it whenever they need it.
· Use labels and signs to promote awareness
Education and training sometimes aren’t enough to guarantee that employees will follow your rules. Using labels and signs throughout your workplace environment can provide reminders to employees about proper procedures and potentially dangerous areas and activities. When in doubt, add more visuals, and don’t be afraid to change up these visuals so that employees pay more attention to them.
· Invest in your leaders
In most workplaces, culture flows from the top down. The attitudes, perspectives, and habits of your leaders eventually work their way into your lower-level employees.
Accordingly, it’s important to promote and nurture leaders who care deeply about workplace safety.
· Hire external consultants and auditors
If you’re concerned about your workplace safety, consider hiring external consultants and auditors. These neutral third parties can inspect your workplace, identify potential problem areas, and make recommendations for how to improve further. This can be a costly investment, but it’s a worthwhile one.
After making concentrated investments into your workplace safety, you should see measurable improvements in your business. It’s hard to tell exactly how many accidents that would have happened without your intervention, but you can see the improvements to employee retention, productivity, and morale for yourself.