Health and Safety professionals have a challenging job. Their primary concern is to ensure the well being of multiple people. This comes with a high level of personal responsibility and thus a lot of pressure. One of the biggest challenges health and safety professionals face is convincing senior management and employees to embrace and enforce safety protocols and implement safety equipment. Issues such as slips and trips, electrical issues, ergonomics and lack of ergonomic equipment, and workplace violence can be detrimental to the safety of individual employees, but also to the organization.
Although today’s business leaders and workers have come a long way, there is still a lot of work to be done. Here’s how to get everyone to better understand what’s at stake, and why it’s important to devote more time and resources to the issue of health and safety in the workplace.
Start With Management
Before employees can and will embrace health and safety protocol, management must first be on board. Workers need to know there are directives and enforceable rules that specifically address issues like the use of ergonomic equipment, proper safety attire, and workspace management. Without the support and enforcement of senior management, and a formal set of rules, it can be difficult to convince workers to take it upon themselves to change certain behaviors.
Map Out The Economics to Senior Management
The negative financial impact of injured employees can be significant to businesses. Lay out the economic impact of health and safety issues. As a retailer of ergonomic equipment, such as ergonomic lifts and self-leveling carts, we understand the financial impact of injured employees. Long-term costs can become staggering when you consider training new employees, healthcare and insurance fees, and OSHA fines. Helping senior management understand this is a good first step.
Break Down Productivity & Other Benefits
Several other factors come into play that can negatively impact business when proper safety protocols and equipment are not implemented. The lack of ergonomic equipment in the workplace, for example, can lead to injury that puts employees out of work for extended periods. This can impact productivity. Multiple days can be lost working to identify and hire replacements. Furthermore, work quality can suffer as injured employees work slower, and with less focus and consistency.
Employee Health and Safety Training
Once senior management is on board, the first step to take with employees is training. Establish a training course that first breaks down the statistics of workplace injury to help them understand the severity of what’s at stake. Then provide steps that can be taken to help avoid specific issues. Help them take ownership of the process by listening to their concerns and implementing an actionable plan to address them. Open the process up by encouraging suggestions from employees on how to best handle safety issues. This way they are personally invested in the process moving forward.
Oftentimes employees don’t understand the benefits that come with certain safety protocols or equipment. For example, when employees learn about how ergonomic equipment can aid lifting and eliminate the awkward, and potentially harmful, nature of certain movements, they are more likely to be supportive. This is one of the reasons that health and safety training is key.
Encourage Employees to Speak Up and Protect Those That Do
Workers will sometimes be the subjects of retaliation by co-workers when they speak up about safety issues. Putting protections in place can help encourage feedback on what’s happening day to day. To do so, setup anonymous feedback options, such as an online form. Let employees know that speaking up is appreciated, and encouraged, and that their concerns are being taken seriously. And embrace an overall culture of seeking feedback by elevating the status of the manager that is receiving it.
Empower Employees To Take Responsibility
Encourage workers to take it upon themselves to monitor and implement safety protocol. Establish a safety action team of volunteers and/or appointees. This team can be guided by management, but be autonomous in their day-to-day actions. When the responsibility is their own, workers are more invested in the process and will be more alert and aware of issues ongoing.
Health and Safety professionals have challenging job. As a retailer of ergonomic equipment we understand that safety issues persist, and new issues seem to come up all of the time. Getting senior management, and employees to embrace safety protocols can help make things easier on everyone.