According to the CDC, around 2.4 million employees received work-related injuries requiring emergency treatment in 2019. The leading causes were contact with equipment and objects, overexertion and other bodily reactions, and slips and falls.
Severe workplace accidents can strike at any time—which can be worrying for employees and supervisors alike. However, a good workplace safety program can help protect teams from potential hazards with less risk.
Of course, setting up a detailed safety plan is easier said than done. How do you make sure all of your bases are covered when it comes to team safety?
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a quick guide to creating your own workplace safety program.
Start With a Commitment to Safety
If you mean to make safety a priority, it has to become a part of your workplace culture. As a small business owner, one of the easiest ways to get started with this is by reconsidering your company’s written vision and mission statement.
With your executive team, make sure that these statements include a commitment to safety as well as specific goals related to your team’s safety. With these plans outlined in a clear fashion, you can ensure that all teams understand that safety comes first in any of your workspaces.
Assess Your Current Risks and Workplace Hazards
Any workplace carries a certain amount of risk in terms of safety, but it’s important to understand what parts of your specific space might act as hazards. This can help you and your teamwork to minimize everyone’s risk.
To do this, try getting a professional assessment. You should also consider sending out an anonymous survey to employees. Both of these options can help you understand which working conditions can be the most hazardous, both in the eyes of an external third party as well as the eyes of people who work in these conditions every day.
Research Your Industry Requirements
OSHA offers an extensive library packed with workplace safety information, including their specific requirements by industry. With a solid understanding of your legal requirements, you can start making changes to bring your company into compliance as needed.
If you’re struggling to understand or meet the requirements, you should again consider working with a professional safety consultant. This person can help you look at any workplace or environmental hazards as well as dangerous activities that your team is performing.
Create a Written Protocol
Once you have a better understanding of what your team should not be doing, you can begin to outline a written protocol for them to follow instead. With your executive team as well as input from your workers on the ground, create a list of safety guidelines that everyone should follow. These guidelines should hold all teams and supervisors responsible for workplace safety.
This means having guidelines for standard operations as well as prevention tactics and plans for worst-case scenarios. Here are a few types of programs and guidelines you should outline:
- Safety data sheets
- Proper labeling practices
- Personal protective equipment
- Electrical safety
- Fire prevention
- Respiratory prevention
- Hazard communication
- Emergency evacuation procedures
The details will depend on your workspace, but working with a consultant can ensure that you create guidelines for all necessary scenarios.
Educate Your Teams
All the written programs in the world won’t make a difference if you don’t share the information with your workers. That’s where employee education comes in.
For your current employees, you’ll want to do a thorough training that explains all new guidelines you’ll be implementing. You’ll also want to do the same thing every time you add a new process or guideline, or any time your team must address a new workplace hazard.
For new employees and transfers, you’ll want to offer training as part of the onboarding process.
Don’t forget that your training should be ongoing: employees will need refresher courses. A good rule of thumb is to offer refresher trainings at least once per year.
Investigate Workplace Incidents and Take Care of Employees
One given of business ownership is that even your best-laid plans will go awry. No matter how good your employee safety programs are, it’s impossible to prevent all accidents—so you’ll need to have plans in place to take care of them when they happen.
This includes a thorough investigation of any incident that takes place, whether or not it resulted in an injury. Investigate potential hazards, determine the causes, and identify what went wrong.
You’ll also need to create a robust plan for worker recovery, including fair worker’s compensation plans. These plans should include access to a workplace rehabilitation provider as well as time off work as needed.
Adapt and Grow Your Plan
No good plan will stay static forever. Instead, they should grow and change dynamically with your business.
For this reason, you should review your workplace safety program on a recurring basis, going through your documentation, training, and processes. You should also solicit employee feedback to verify that the safety procedures are working well in practice. This can ensure that your company is prepared to tackle any challenge that comes your way.
Create Your Workplace Safety Program With These Tips
Creating a good workplace safety program takes a great deal of time and effort—but it’s well worth the cost. Protecting your team can help you keep your business running smoothly, enhance employee happiness and well-being, and save your company valuable time and money in the long run. Start investing in a sustainable safety plan for long-term success today!
Want more key business tips like these? Be sure to check out our other posts for additional workplace and company insights.