Workplace safety is important to prioritize as accidents at work can lead to hospitalizations, low morale, lost productivity, and money paid out in lawsuits and workers’ compensation settlements. A lot of worksite accidents are preventable and potentially avoidable with more caution, proper equipment, and a workplace policy that puts safety first. These five steps will help you get started.
Demonstrate Your Commitment
Make it clear to your employees and customers that you’re committed to keeping people safe. Make it a company-wide value and put it in your mission statement. Changes will start from the top down, so ensure that management is working to reflect these values in everything they do, from reminding employees about procedures to practicing safe behaviors to conducting thorough investigations of every accident at work.
Assess Your Hazards
Conduct a professional assessment and inspection of your construction site hazards: working at height, electricity, noise, asbestos, infectious diseases, and others. Include a channel for employees to provide their input: as people who work in those conditions, they’ll know more about their risks and needs than management will. Try to identify potential emergency situations so that you can develop a plan before they come up. Dedicate time on the clock for research if necessary. In response to the global pandemic and preparing for possible future health and safety threats, on May 5, 2021 New York State signed the NY HERO ACT which seeks to create a safe and healthy work environment for NY employees.
Create the Protocols
Create guidelines for your safety program, employee job descriptions, and health and safety responsibilities based on the results of the hazard assessments. Make sure to get these requirements down in writing: this removes opportunities to misinterpret or forget a policy. Post these guidelines in a visible location so that everyone has access to them at work. Don’t forget to include an optional anonymous reporting system so employees can communicate concerns without fear of retaliation.
You know to train a new employee when they’re first hired or transferred, but don’t forget to train everyone else. If there’s a change in policy or the worksite—new hazards, new equipment, etc.—retrain everyone involved, and conduct refreshers. Include training on how to identify and control hazards and how to report injuries, illnesses, and any near-misses.
Implement, Evaluate, and Revise
Be ready to constantly make improvements. Look at your assessment and investigation results to determine how to make your workplace safer. Set aside a regular time to discuss health and safety with your team and be open to making changes. Before you make any significant changes, consult your team and make any necessary updates to keep everyone on the same page. Keep making employee feedback a priority, and consider making it anonymous.
Workplace safety policies and training just make sense. You’ll protect your employees as well as your bottom line. Truly knowing your workplace, creating a robust safety culture, creating an open flow of communication between yourself and your team, and willing to make changes as the jobs and workplace evolve are all crucial parts of workplace safety.
Author: Rick Pedley
Author Byline: Rick Pedley, PK Safety’s President and CEO, joined the family business in 1979. PK Safety, a supplier of occupational safety and personal protective equipment and manufacturer of their own new FR line Grit, has been operating since 1947 and takes OSHA, ANSI, PPE, and CSA work safety equipment seriously. PK Safety's customer service can be reached at 800-829-9580 or online at https://www.pksafety.com/contact-us/.