How to Ensure Worker Safety in an Unsafe World

ensure worker safety

Are you doing enough to ensure worker safety in a world that faces increased threats even in the least threatening environments? See some surprising ways to ensure worker safety that you may not have considered in this post.

ensure worker safety

You are aware of how important worker safety is in your business. When workers are hurt on the job, you face the paperwork and additional expenses to manage worker’s compensation claims and may even face lawsuits if workers feel your safety measures weren’t sufficient to protect them at work or on work-related tasks. In extreme cases, workers can even “pierce the corporate veil” that normally provides protection to owners and managers if the courts find the company didn’t protect workers or train them properly to use safety equipment and handle hazards properly. Owners and managers have even gone to jail after a jury found them criminally negligent when it came to protecting worker safety.

A more subtle but potentially more dangerous outcome of poor worker safety is a hit to your reputation. Consider the backlash facing companies like Amazon over worker complaints regarding stress at work, insufficient breaks, and loads that are too heavy for the conditions under which workers perform their jobs. These are more than simple ploys by workers for better conditions or higher pay. A recent study found workers at Amazon facilities suffer twice as many injuries as their competitors. Consumers responded to these facts by calling for a boycott of Amazon Prime Week, although worker groups don’t think a boycott can fix the problem. In an age where Covid-19 is still a concern in crowded workplaces and new variants show increased virulance, efforts to ensure worker safety require even more planning.

Another outcome of poor employee safety comes in the form of efforts to organize workers into collective bargaining units (unions) or to strengthen the hold these unions have in negotiations with the company. Recent unionization efforts at companies like Starbucks and Amazon point to the role of worker dissatisfaction in affirmative union votes.

Ensure worker safety

You invested a significant amount of time, money, and other resources into developing exhaustive safety programs to ensure worker safety. You enrolled your staff in GWO Team Training, utilized industry standards to train supervisors, and chosen people you believe will place safety above all other considerations. You paid careful attention to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards in the US or those prevailing in the countries where you operate. Have you done enough to ensure worker safety?

Do you find that after all this preparation, there’s still a mismatch between the aims of your safety program and the attitudes and actions of your staff members? Are your worker comp claims too high or represent similar accidents? If this is the case, you might want to reconsider how you encourage workers to protect their own safety on the jobs, institute new policies to ensure worker safety, provide better access to the proper protective equipment, or some combination of these tactics to ensure worker safety and lower the risks your business faces. Learn more about how to ensure worker safety by taking a look at the five recommended procedures listed below.

ensure worker safety
Photo by Ümit Yıldırım on Unsplash

Make safety an integral and prominent component of your company’s culture.

As soon as potential employees walk through your doors for an interview with your company, they should be aware that safety is one of the core principles that your company upholds. Ask potential employees about their view of employee safety and how they consider the safety of themselves and fellow employees as a part of their normal job to gauge their commitment to protecting everyone at the job site. Show how you accomplish this by discussing how you ensure worker safety by including training and safety reminders in each stage of the hiring and onboarding procedures and continuing to emphasize the importance of these measures during each and every workday.

Leadership teams should be the foremost health and safety advocates.

Safety is a concern for everyone in the organization and leadership must embody how important they believe worker safety is in the organization not just pay lip service to the notion of safety. The leadership teams’ commitment to worker safety is a significant factor in determining the level of employee involvement in safety programs (and, indeed, in any programs). Every member of the leadership team needs to make it a priority to act as a good role model for their subordinates and adhere to the same safety regulations that are required of them.

Tying managers’ compensation to the safety performance of their direct reports can go a long way toward ensuring their commitment to worker safety.

Use positive reinforcement

Behavioral scientists often define positive reinforcement as “any consequence that causes a behavior to repeat or increase in frequency.” Programs emphasizing positive reinforcement and safety must go hand in hand.

Having said that, leaders should not brush off any incidents involving safety, regardless of how inconsequential they might seem. To put it another way, leaders must stay vigilant when addressing concerns about safety, but to do so in an effective manner. Instead of accusing workers who fail to ensure safety procedures are followed, use these lapses as a learning tool to reinforce company safety policy. Also, accidents are a learning process for the company as sometimes an accident is the result of something the company never considered when creating their safety procedures. For instance, maybe a new safety procedure is necessary to protect against the accident so it doesn’t reoccur. Or, maybe the company needs to change the placement of safety equipment so it’s close to anywhere it might be needed or might need additional safety equipment to ensure against the recurrence of the accident.

Your staff members must be responsible for the safety process

Participation in safety initiatives on the part of employees results in increased levels of commitment and motivation on their part. As we discussed before, you can accomplish this by reminding workers that their vigilance with regard to safety has a direct bearing on the safety of their workplace, as well as their own safety and the safety of their fellow employees.

Consistent training for not only new workers but periodic training for your existing workforce ensures they understand how to ensure safety by avoiding dangerous behaviors, understand the use of all safety equipment, and know the procedure for reporting accidents. A motivated workforce will willingly follow the procedures laid out while a workforce that resents management and considers the relationship adversarial will seek ways to circumvent these procedures even if someone gets hurt as a result.

Don’t forget that your business must ensure the safety of everyone at your location, including other stakeholders such as investors, customers, inspectors, and supply chain partners.

To reevaluate your safety program, use the comments and suggestions of your staff members

If you promote employee input at your company, you must demonstrate a commitment to utilizing that feedback to implement acceptable and essential changes to your policies and procedures. When someone provides a valuable suggestion or observation, it is important to act on it promptly and let them know that you value their participation by providing them with positive reinforcement.

Conclusion

Taking care of workers to ensure they have a safe work environment is a paramount concern for businesses, as highlighted in this post. We provided 5 tools companies can use to improve worker safety and ensure a positive work environment for all.

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