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8 Ways to Increase Safety at the Workplace

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Maybe you're running a factory or warehouse. Maybe you just work in a really intense office. Whatever your reasons for considering workplace safety, here are a few ways to prevent accidents, injuries and tragedies.

1. Read the Manual

The good news about improving workplace safety is that there are already hundreds of resources at your disposal. You don't have to stumble around in the dark and figure things out on your own. OSHA has a searchable database where you can learn about everything from scaffold set-up to hazardous waste disposal, and there are plenty of guidelines available from places like the U.S. Department of Labor. The information is out there; you just have to track it down.

2. Train Your Employees

You can't stop crazy accidents from happening, but you can prepare your staff for when they occur. Make sure that everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation. Sit them down for written evaluations, and put them through physical drills where you asses things like reaction times and efficiency rates. Repeat this process every year or so. Don't let their skills get rusty, and don't let them slack off if they aren't taking it seriously.

3. Give Your Employees a Reason to Listen

Piggybacking off the above, it's important that your employees don't treat workplace safety like a game or a chore. You'll need to instill the right attitudes to keep them from behaving recklessly even when you aren't around to supervise. Think about both rewards and punishments. Can you give them a prize if they make it 100 days without an accident? Can you take disciplinary action if they accumulate more than three safety warnings in a 90-day period?

4. Buy the Right Tools and Supplies

There's no use in preaching about workplace safety if your heavy machinery is fundamentally unsafe. You'll need to practice what you preach when it comes to the equipment around your job site. Why should people care about following forklift protocols if your forklifts are 20 years old and throwing sparks everywhere? Find some room in the budget to give your workers safe and effective equipment so that they can get their jobs done without compromising their safety.

5.Invest in High-Quality Flooring

This is especially important if you work in an industrial setting. You'll want something like flame retardant surface protection or Aqua Shield to protect your floors from the damage of both environmental factors and everyday foot traffic. Don't be afraid to spend a little money on it, either. Cost-cutting measures should be saved for non-essential areas and not important things like floors.

6. Restrict Access to Dangerous Areas

People shouldn't be allowed to walk freely in places where they could get hurt. Start erecting barriers to keep untrained or unqualified personnel from compromising the safety of a potential hazard zone. If you can, try to do more than just hanging a vinyl sheet to block off the area; this can be easily ignored. You'll need things like doors, fences, swipe cards or access codes if you're truly dedicated to protecting the sanctity of a lab or construction site.

7. Start Emphasizing Safety

It's common for managers to pay lip service to the idea of workplace safely while also encouraging a "whatever it takes" mentality in regards to getting the work done. If you're rewarding employees who disregard rules and regulations in the name of productivity, you're undercutting your own message that safety comes first. Try to shift your perspective around this. Let your employees know that you'd rather have something done safely than quickly.

8. Be Open to Suggestions

If you're a supervisor, you probably aren't walking the floor like the everyday employees. You don't know about their habits, routines and struggles, and you don't know how these things affect daily productivity. The only way to educate yourself is to allow your employees to come and talk to you. Do they have suggestions for making the assembly line a little safer? Listen to what they have to say, especially if it involves an area in which you're ignorant.

These are just a few tips for making and encouraging a safer workplace. As you can see, it's not something that you can will into existence with the snap of your fingers. You'll need to invest some time and money into the idea. If you're serious about protecting the health and security of your workers, however, you'll find a way to get it done.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Seika

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