Safety in the workplace is incredibly important, no matter what industry you’re in. All workplaces have risks, whether it’s simple trip hazards from too much clutter or bigger risks like working with dangerous machinery. If your workplace is dangerous, this can be very bad for morale. Accidents also lead to downtime, a drop in reputation, and could even open you up to expensive compensation claims, so take it seriously. Here are some top tips to make your workplace as safe as possible.
Bring In Safety Policies
First, you need to identify the possible risks in your workplace. This could be trip hazards, injury risk from heavy lifting, dangerous machinery, or risks from your employees themselves. When you know what the risks are, bring in policies to counteract them. For example, if you have employees who are often required to move heavy stock, create a policy on safe lifting or require them to ask a second person for help, instead of lifting alone.
If your workplace has a warehouse, you will need policies like requiring staff to wear high-vis jackets, only walk in designated areas, and only drive forklifts in areas away from staff on foot. If you have a fleet of vehicles, add a policy on when a truck safety inspection is required to keep things safe.
When you have your policies in place, make sure they are displayed somewhere prominent and take the time to train all your staff on what they need to do.
If you’re the manager, you’re probably quite separate from a lot of the potential risks. Your employees are on the front-line and may have a much better idea of where the risks are than you do. For example, if you’ve provided lifting equipment, the people who actually have to use it every day will be the ones who know how helpful it actually is.
For this reason, it’s important to take feedback. Offer a range of ways for employees to raise concerns with you. Make it clear that they can approach you in person or send an email, and you may want to offer a way to give feedback anonymously. If any employee notices a problem, they can let you know promptly. Make sure you take on board their feedback and do something about the problems they make you aware of.
Allow For Breaks
If you’re working to a tight schedule, it can be tempting to reduce breaks and ask for more over-time. However, without adequate breaks, people will get tired. Tired people make mistakes, are more likely to have accidents, and will be less productive. To avoid mistakes leading to accidents, make sure you allow your team to take proper breaks. At a minimum, you need to allow a proper lunch break so people can eat and rest. If people have to work long hours, add in more short breaks to allow for a break, and a chance to refuel and recharge.
A lot of workplace accidents happen when people are asked to use tools or equipment that they have not been trained on how to use properly. Training is an important part of workplace safety.
If your business use any kind of machinery, heavy equipment, or vehicles, make sure that proper training is mandatory for all new starters who will be using it. You should also offer regular refresher training to those who work with your machinery often. Refresher training makes sure safety protocols stay fresh in the minds, and you can make sure bad habits aren’t creeping in that could put people at risk.
Offer training on all your safety practices, from how to lift safely and how to use the equipment correctly, to how to spot potential hazards and how to report them.
Offer Safety Equipment
Safety equipment comes in many different forms, and you need to make sure that your staff have access to everything that they need. All places of work need fire safety equipment, including a range of fire extinguishers for different kinds of fire and fire blankets.
For the other equipment that you need, think about the work your employees have to do every day. For example, anyone who works with chemicals or other dangerous substances should have proper gloves and goggles. Gloves and back braces may be needed for anyone doing heavy lifting. Does anyone need high-vis clothing?
If you need safety equipment, you must provide it and ensure that it is always kept in good condition so it can do the job it needs to and keep your team safe. Store any safety equipment correctly and make sure anyone who needs to use it knows where to find what they need.
Set Up Workspaces Correctly
Anyone who works at a desk on a regular basis knows how quickly it can get uncomfortable and start causing issues like back pain. To prevent this from happening, you need to set up all your workplaces correctly.
An ergonomic workspace means the body is supported properly and good posture is encouraged. To make a workstation do this, make sure you buy good quality furniture, especially chairs, and that anything on the work surface is positioned properly so no strain is required to reach it.
Teach your team how to adjust their chairs or desks for them, and offer access to items like footrests, platforms for laptops, and mouse mats with wrist supports. Desk chairs or chairs for any work stations need to offer proper lumbar support and should be adjustable, so your employees can change it to best support their posture. Adjustable workstations can go a long way to making people comfortable and preventing problems like shoulder, back, and wrist pain.
Workplace safety should always be taken very seriously in order to protect your staff, and by extension, your business. If staff are safe, fewer accidents will happen, meaning you don’t have to deal with people needing time off or worry about the risk of being sued and having to pay out compensation.