Access to safe and non-hazardous working conditions for employees is a basic right. Human rights regulations, labor legislations, health and safety standards, and many other legal documents have stressed this fact time and time again. Health and safety hazards in the workplace not only pose harm to its workers, but it does so continuously unless addressed. This is exactly how workplaces find themselves in negligence lawsuits like the million-dollar class action torts you see while browsing news channels on Spectrum TV.
Building a Safety-Focused Workplace and Culture
The legal fees, settlements, and damages in such a lawsuit can prove to be too expensive for many businesses to remain sustainable. There is a long list of successful ventures that cut too many corners and ended up filing for bankruptcy following an unsuccessful court battle. Now compare that to the much smaller cost of ensuring safety in the workplace and maintaining an employee-first work culture. If you feel the second option is much more appealing than the first one, here are a few points you may be able to apply to your workplace. Ensure all stakeholders (including your workforce, vendors, management, and any third parties) are all on the same page with:
Draft Comprehensive Safety Policies
The first step is to ensure you have formal policies and guidelines in place. If you already have an employee handbook, you may need to update your existing policies and make them more comprehensive by adding improved safety standards and rules. If you don’t have an employee handbook, you need to start drafting one right away. Place special emphasis on assessing the health risks and hazards and build policies that minimize their risk of occurrence. This formal policy is an important legal document that demonstrates how committed you are to your workers’ health and safety.
Make Safety Training Mandatory
Safety policies are a valuable piece of information. However, you cannot rely on your employees going through dense legal documents unless specifically referring to something. Instead of hoping that they will read the employee manual or instructions and remember them too, be more proactive. Schedule mandatory training sessions for all employees to reinforce the guidelines and rules laid down in your employee health and safety policies.
Implement Safety Policies at All Levels
It’s not just new hires or operational staff that need to adhere to the rules. Businesses and teams thrive on being treated with respect, equity, and consistency. However, imposing safety rules on workers below a certain designation while relaxing them for middle or senior management can prove counterproductive. If nothing else, it may breed resentment and conflict as workers begin to perceive this as preferential or biased treatment. All employees, no matter their role or compensation and benefits plan, need to abide by health and safety rules at all times.
Ensure Labels and Signage Placement
Displaying appropriate and visible labels and signage in the right places should be a crucial part of your workplace safety policies. For example, on a factory floor where workers operate heavy machinery, the risks of injury are much higher than anywhere else in the building. Therefore, all entry points to the factory floor, as well as employee work areas in it, need to display the right signs. These can be reminders to wear hardhats or danger proximity warnings for things like high voltage, fire hazards, and dangerous machinery. The absence of a label may not always cause accidents, but the presence of one certainly warns against them.
Regular Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols
While creating workplace health and safety rules, you should also pay attention to cleaning and sanitization. Workplaces need to remain as clean and germ-free as possible to reduce the chances of workers picking up infections and diseases, as well as slipping over spilled liquids and injuring themselves. Not only is a dirty workplace a health hazard, but it will limit your business productivity as workers keep needing time off for health or injury problems.
Upgrade or Replace Dangerous Tools or Equipment
Most workforces consist of hardworking and dedicated employees who bring their best game to the role every day. But even if a worker is a less than ideal addition to your workplace, you still need to ensure everyone has access to the tools and equipment they need for the job. However, it is also your responsibility to ensure that said tools and equipment are both safe to use and fit for their intended purpose. Tool or machinery-related injuries can be gruesome, and a little prudence early on can save a lot of misery.