Six tips to create safe work environments

By: Scott Young
November 4, 2015

When each of us goes to work each day, we all assume that we will come home safe and sound. Unfortunately too many of us do not, due to lapses in workplace safety.

At GardaWorld, we believe that providing an accident-free workplace for our employees is as important as providing quality services to our clients.

Workplace safety is a critical, even vital, topic that needs to be a priority for employers everywhere. In Canada alone, nearly 700 workers a day are injured on the job with many injuries going unreported. Worse, almost three workers die each day. And all this costs almost $20 billion in annual healthcare costs and lost productivity.

What can be done to improve workplace safety? These six tips for business managers and owners can help to build safety awareness into their operations and ensure it’s always a priority:

1. Make safety a priority commitment. It’s easy to give workplace safety occasional lip service and put up required flyers and motivational posters, but those won’t ensure accidents won’t happen. Ultimately, management is in charge of developing a safety culture within an organization.

  • Put safety on the agenda as a regular topic to cover, so other managers and employees know that you take it seriously — and they should also.

  • Conduct periodic safety audits that are intentionally highly visible, so work teams get the message that safety matters.

2. Conduct regular workplace inspections and correct unsafe practices.

  • Look for obvious and not-so-obvious hazardous situations like improperly stored chemicals, overstacking of goods, overused electrical outlets, and other dangerous conditions.

  • Also identify potential situations that could lead to criminal harm to employees, whether robbery, assault, or worse. Employees don’t intentionally make their workplaces unsafe but their own ignorance and inattentiveness can harm them.

3. Train employees and managers. Ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for any unsafe situation or consequence but too often it’s a root cause of them. Safety training should be part of an employee’s day-one, new-hire orientation; the part of all employees’ ongoing training.

4. Provide well-maintained tools and equipment. In kitchens, a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one because a dull one can slip off what it’s supposed to slice and cut its user. This axiom also applies to all work tools and equipment. Also, too often, workers will take short cuts and use the wrong tools or equipment just to get work done faster. Proper training again comes into play here: they must be taught how to properly use and maintain tools and equipment, along with periodic reinforcement training.

5. Report, investigate and document all accidents. If an incident occurs — no matter whether it’s big or small or whether it’s an accident, a health problem, or a physical crime— respond appropriately and call the proper authorities immediately. All incidents should be investigated, to identify and correct their causes. And all incidents should be carefully documented for purposes of mitigation, insurance, if applicable, and possible liability litigation.

6. Recognize and reward good behaviors. When employees report unsafe situations, recognize and reward them appropriately. It can be a simple thank you that doesn’t cost anything or something minimal like two movie tickets. The “thank you” should be done in a visible way, either in a team meeting or by a companywide memo. You want all employees to realize that safety is valued and will be rewarded.

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Workplace safety is also good business. Studies have shown that companies taking safety seriously via formal safety programs tend to perform better — in terms of quality, delivery and financially — than those that don’t. That’s why many large companies seeking vendor proposals will ask about workplace safety practices and safety certifications.

Workplace safety includes protecting employees and visitors against criminal harm and providing for onsite emergency response capabilities. For more information, contact your local GardaWorld representative or visit our website.