How to Encourage Safe Practices in the Workplace
by Rae Steinbach
Keeping the workplace safe is important for any business owner. That’s why it’s not enough to simply rely on management to maintain a safe working environment. Implementing a safety initiative isn’t going to be as effective as you might expect if your employees aren’t adjusting their own habits accordingly.
Safety is very important to your employees. In the United States alone, an average of more than 99 workplace fatalities occurred each week in 2016. Obviously, your employees need to understand that prioritizing safety is key to their own well-being.
It’s also important for maintaining productivity and strong staff retention rates. As one workers compensation attorney in Philadelphia points out, the majority of injuries or illnesses that occur in the workplace are the fault of the business. These can have lasting impacts, not only on the injured party, but also on those who witnessed the incident. When employees are unsure about their safety, it can slow down work and make them hesitant to stay on with your business.
The following tips can help you motivate staff to actively adhere to safety best practices, helping your business run smoothly and efficiently. Keep them in mind to ensure the whole organization is involved in preventing accidents.
Employees can’t help keep the workplace safe if they don’t know how. Even if they have the proper motivation, they might lack the knowledge they need to play their part. Training programs can bridge this gap between intention and ability.
The results are extremely beneficial to organizations. A survey of chief financial officers at major businesses indicates that focusing on safety in the workplace results in higher productivity, better retention rates, and lower overall expenses.
Recognize & Reward Staff
Rewarding employees when they actively take steps to boost workplace safety is an easy way to motivate them. The safety rewards don’t even need to be particularly costly or extravagant. Simply thanking and recognizing an employee for taking action is often enough to prompt similar efforts in the future.
OSHA recommends directing your employees to report potential hazards and safety violations on the job. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. In practice, it can be difficult to persuade workers that this course of action is in their best interests. They might hesitate to report a violation if it resulted from their own actions or negligence.
Thus, you should not punish employees when they honestly report hazards, regardless of who is at fault. Recognizing staff for their honesty is a much more effective tactic.
Meet & Discuss
Regularly schedule meetings for each department to discuss safety initiatives. Take the opportunity to acknowledge employees who have gone the extra mile to keep the workplace safe, and ask everyone present to suggest ways you can further improve your safety procedures.
If you simply direct workers and managers to take certain steps, you won’t engage them. On the other hand, if you ask them to be active participants in developing effective safety programs, they’ll be more inspired to take the goal seriously.
Again, keeping the workplace safe is something an entire business should be involved in. That means you need to find ways to motivate your employees when implementing safety programs. These tips will make that much easier.
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.