Providing a safe working environment is one of the main responsibilities of any employer.
Whether your employees are working in an office, a busy commercial kitchen, a huge hospital, or a construction site, it’s your mandate to make sure they’re reasonably safe from physical injury.
But workplace safety isn’t limited to the physical. You should also ensure that employees are safe from sexual harassment or emotional abuse at work.
When employees have a safe working environment, they are likely to be more focused on their job, which boosts their productivity.
Ultimately, this will translate into more revenue for your business.
By taking steps to make sure that you provide a safe working environment, you also reduce the likelihood of being sued by employees over safety issues.
With this in mind, no employer can afford to overlook the necessity of providing a safe workplace for their employees.
The good news is that creating a safe workplace is easy if you’re equipped with the right information.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Provide Employees With Work Uniforms
Did you know that having a work uniform can help boost employee job satisfaction?
In a study published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly in April 2000, researchers found that work outfits can affect employees’ attitudes in the hospitality industry.
They found that by simply donning their work uniform, employees showed more confidence in their skills, which boosted their perceived credibility.
In 2012, researchers from Columbia Business School also conducted some experiments to find out if work uniforms had any effect on employee attitudes.
They instructed one group of students to wear doctors’ lab coats as they went about their tasks, while the other group performed the tasks in their regular clothes.
The researchers found that the students who had been instructed to wear lab coats showed more attentiveness and focus than their counterparts.
Not only does a work uniform boost employee job satisfaction, but it is also one of the best ways to improve workplace safety.
Providing employees with uniforms is especially important in some industries such as hospitality, food processing, transport, and manufacturing.
In some industries, employers are mandated to provide employees with industrial quality uniforms.
Industrial quality uniforms are specially designed to protect workers from unique safety hazards when performing their tasks.
Some of the most common workplace hazards include:
- Slippery floors
- Toxic gases
- Electric shocks
- Falling objects
In some work environments, such as busy construction sites or factories, it is also highly important that employees’ work uniforms are made of high-visibility materials. That way, each employee can be easily spotted by others to avoid accidents.
Work uniforms can also help promote cleanliness in your workplace. This is especially important in the health and food processing industries.
Educate employees on why they need to be in their work uniforms at all times in the workplace.
Ensure that supervisors know that it is their duty to enforce your company’s work uniform policy.
Equip Employees With the Right Tools
Providing workers with the right tools for their tasks is one of the best ways to promote workplace safety.
This means everything from equipment, machines, devices, to software… anything that workers require to effectively perform their job.
When an employer doesn’t provide the tools needed, employees are forced to use whatever is available.
This leads to time-wasting, poor performance, and can eventually cost you your clients.
Additionally, not using the right tools - or using faulty ones - can be a safety hazard to employees.
Bear in mind that if an employee gets injured due to your failure to provide the right tools, they can sue you. This could lead to a heavy compensation payout that may even eventually cost you your business.
As an employer, it is also your responsibility to ensure that all tools and equipment are regularly inspected, serviced, and repaired.
To recap, providing employees with the right tools will:
- Improve the safety of your workplace
- Make the job easier for your employees
- Help in preventing time wastage
- Boost your workers’ productivity
- Keep your clients and customers happy
- Improve your business’ bottom line
Provide Stocked First Aid Kits
Despite taking steps to ensure the physical safety of your workplace, accidents might still happen.
In case of emergencies, having well-stocked first aid kits can come in handy.
Supplies in a first aid kit can be used to effectively deal with most small workplace accidents.
Bear in mind that employers are required by the Health and Safety Regulations to provide adequately-stocked first aid supplies.
However, there’s no list of mandatory items to include in workplace first aid kits. You have to assess what your employees might need and buy or rent a first aid kit which meets your needs.
For instance, if your employees are working in a busy construction site, you might need to include more items in your first aid kit than if they were in a normal office environment.
That said, a basic first aid kit for low-risk environments should always contain these items:
- A leaflet which explains how to use the items contained in the kit
- A list of the contents in the kit
- Individually wrapped sterile gauze dressings (in small, medium and large sizes)
- Individually wrapped, sterile, triangular bandages
- Safety pins
- Sterile eye pads
- Eyewash and eye bath
- Distilled water (for cleaning wounds)
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- Burn dressings
- Adhesive tape
- Disposable nitrile gloves
- Resuscitation face shield
- Finger dressings
- Crepe bandages
In certain work environments, you should also include defibrillators (AEDS) to deal with emergency cardiac situations.
It is also important to have your employees sufficiently trained by experts on how to deal with common workplace emergencies.
Have Designated Emergency Exits
Without access to unobstructed exits from the building, employees can easily get trapped in an emergency, such as a fire or bomb threat, where the premise has to be evacuated.
In any workplace, unobstructed and clearly marked emergency exits should be easily accessible, directing employees to a place of safety.
Emergency exits are important in ensuring workplace safety because:
- They make it possible for employees to make a quick escape in case of emergencies.
- They come in handy to access the workplace when the regular exits are blocked.
- They can help in containing a fire. This can help minimise damage to the building, your workplace equipment, save lives and reduce the number and severity of injuries.
Bonus Tip: Set Clear Expectations
Right from the beginning, you should set clear expectations regarding workplace safety requirements.
It’s advisable to print an employee safety handbook that includes the safety protocols and regulations in your workplace.
If you don’t know what to include in your safety handbook, consider consulting a physical therapist. They can assess the physical demands of the workplace on your employees and advise accordingly.
Remember, making your workplace safer for your workers will ultimately benefit your business. The tips outlined above will definitely boost safety in your workplace.
Article contribution by Alsco New Zealand. Alsco aims to help create a healthier and safer workplace by providing affordable yet high-quality uniform rental service and hospital-grade first aid solutions.