Every business owner, whether big or small, has one common concern in mind with respect to the workplace – no one should get hurt on the job.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to create and maintain a safe and a healthy workplace. Having management systems, plans or programs that are dedicated to this cause can help you develop a healthy and safe work environment. This system/program should essentially spell out what your employees should and should not do to prevent injuries and illnesses at the workplace.
It is totally understandable that even the thought of having extravagant health and safety systems can be quite overwhelming for a small business owner as he grapples with the day-to-day pressures of running his business. This does not mean that looking after the health and the safety of the employees should lose precedence.
Every organization has its own systems and processes which are based on its culture, business practices, type of industry and associated hazards. These systems go a long way in managing the safety and the health of your employees.
If you run a small business in a low-risk industry, your safety process may simply entail listening to the concerns of your employees and responding to them.
To run a larger business, however, you may need to have systemic procedures and all-encompassing policies in place along with a team that specializes in ensuring workplace safety.
Here are a few ways in which you can create and maintain a healthy and a safe workplace environment
1. Make It Everyone’s Concern
You cannot make your entire organization a safe place by working towards this endeavor on your own. You need to make sure everyone on your team does their part. Encourage them to follow a culture of safety, make sure everyone does their bit and hold them accountable.
- Create an active workplace safety committee or have a separate team committed to this cause in place.
- Assign every employee a meaningful activity that backs this cause.
- Pick a few responsible employees and make safety inspections a part of their daily job.
- Keep employees informed about injuries, illnesses, and all other safety-related issues.
- Encourage employees to give you their recommendations and feedback for improving safety measures.
- Hold employees accountable by including safety-related responsibilities in their job description and making it one of the parameters of performance evaluation.
- Set safety goals at the organizational level. Establish a clear system for reporting accidents, injuries, and close calls. Rectify the behavior of employees who put themselves or others at risk. Recognize and reward employees who contribute to making the workplace healthy and safe.
2. Manage Your Space Well
Make sure you use your workplace space well. Don’t confuse or misuse the areas for working, resting and storing office supplies. Keep the hallways and passages free of clutter and debris and make sure they’re well-lit. Ensure that clean and hygienic drinking water and restroom facilities are always available to your employees,
3. Sit Right
Make sure you and your employees know how to maintain appropriate postures at work to prevent injuries. For those who sit behind a desk most of the time, it is advised to work at elbow height in a posture that minimizes bending or arm-raising. And, of course, items that are used frequently should be kept within easy reach.
For those who have a physically demanding field job, for example, at an oil field, it is suggested to avoid doing dangerous tasks and stooping or twisting beyond their physical limits. Provide them with ergonomically-designed furniture and equipment to ensure their safety.
Should something go wrong with your employee’s health due to your negligence, they can easily contact an oil field injury lawyer and demand an exorbitant compensation from you.
4. Be Mindful of Dangerous Objects
Make sure all machinery and equipment with dangerous and/or moving parts have guards and that electrical connection and wiring are safe. Sharp and heavy equipment can injure and even prove to be fatal.
It is crucial that you take proper and timely steps to service and maintain your equipment regularly. You can hire an engineer to do this, as well as have him frequently check for and replace/repair broken or unstable parts.
5. Say No to a Hazardous Environment
Working in factories and even offices can expose your employees to hazards such as fire, heat, chemicals, dust and noise. Hence, ensure maximum natural ventilation to prevent safety disasters from occurring.
All chemicals should be properly labeled prior to being stored in a safe place. If heat or cold conditions are a regular feature, consider insulation.
Make ample provision for fire-fighting equipment, adequate clothing and protective gear such as helmets, goggles, gloves, shoes, and earplugs. You should have first aid kits placed everywhere, especially in high-risk areas.
6. Train Your Employees
It is important that you organize safety workshops regularly in order to train your staff about the hazards they may be exposed to at work and how they should protect themselves.
These workshops should include a general safety orientation on company safety regulations, emergency procedures, and first aid usage for all employees, especially the new joiners.
Mock drills and tests should be performed to determine whether or not the employees have understood the safety guidelines. They should be retained as required.
7. Provide Regular Breaks
Overworked employees tend to demonstrate lowered levels of productivity and alertness, thereby increasing the scope for accidents and mishaps. Regular breaks and adequate rest can help prevent such situations by keeping fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout at bay.
As a small business owner, it is your duty to provide all your employees, whether with desk jobs or field jobs, with a safe working environment. For this, you will have to ensure that your workplace is compliant with the basic health and safety legislations. Remember, you’re legally responsible for the health and safety of not only your employees, but anyone else who may be directly or indirectly affected by your business and its activities. The above tips should help you figure out what steps you need to take in your organization to make it a safer and healthier place to work at.