No business owner wants their hardworking employees to suffer from accidents, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace. And in truth, such incidents can cost employers all kinds of money, not only through worker’s compensation and lawsuits, but thanks to lost productivity. So of course it’s in any responsible and forward-thinking business owner’s best interests to find ways to prevent the possibility of such occurrences. However, you might not exactly know how to keep workers from being involved in accidents, becoming injured on the job, or spreading illness throughout the office. Luckily, you’re not the first professional to face this problem. Here are a few strategies that should help you to stave off the worst and keep your workforce safe and healthy.
- Safety training. The place to start is by implementing mandatory safety training for all new hires, and possibly even holding lectures annually as a refresher for all employees. This training may include everything from basics like leaving the smoke alarms intact and using proper procedures to retrieve items on high shelves (rather than standing precariously balanced on a wheeled office chair, just for example) to more complicated procedures related to safely moving heavy loads around a warehouse environment. It depends largely on the type of business you run and the potential threats to the health and safety of your staff.
- Provide all possible protections. If employees are lifting heavy items, you should provide them with back support belts and gloves. If they are working with caustic substances they should be properly attired, wear goggles, and have access to sinks, showers, or neutralizing compounds for rinsing. When you know that hazards are present in your work environment, you need to plan accordingly to protect your employees from harm in every way possible.
- Germ protection. The best way to prevent illness is often to keep sick employees away from the workplace. So adopting a policy by which workers are urged to stay home when they’re sick is a good place to start. And if employees insist upon working when sick because there is no one to cover for them or they’re “not that sick”, consider providing work-at-home options for such instances. However, you should also protect against the spread of illness by regulating the temperature and installing HEPA filters (and proper filtration) throughout the office, as well as air purifiers if necessary. And make sure employees have access to anti-bacterial hand wash or hand sanitizer if they want it. For some businesses, hand-washing after using the restroom should also be a mandatory practice.
- Encourage compliance. There are a couple of good ways to motivate employees to behave in a safe and responsible manner that is in keeping with your policies regarding potential accident and injury situations. For one thing, you could reward the entire staff for hitting milestones (like 6 months) without any accidents or injuries. But you should also ask that employees keep an eye out for one another and speak up when someone is breaking the rules, putting themselves and others at risk. They may save a life in the process and it will certainly be to the benefit of the company overall.
- Clearly posted warnings. Even though your employees have gone through training, they wear proper safety gear, and you hope they have some common sense and self-preservation, they can still slip on a wet floor if they don’t know it was just mopped. And they can also make mistakes when they’re working on tight deadlines. So it’s not a bad idea to remind them of what they already know by posting appropriate signage throughout the workplace featuring safety reminders. You can either put up hand-written signs or order ready-made options from a company like SafetyBanners.org. Either way, doing all you can to keep employees safe from accident, injury, and illness in the workplace helps to protect both them and you.