Workplace safety ranks high with workers when it comes to labor standards. In fact, a study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago states that 85 percent of employees ranked workplace safety above family and maternity leave, minimum wage, paid sick days, the right to join a union and overtime.
That’s saying a lot. Employers who put workplace safety at the top of their lists end up thankful in the long run.
They understand that the mental and physical well-being of their workers correlates with job retention, productivity and attendance. It’s an easy equation, really: employees who feel safe will likely be more motivated.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say there are five factors that contribute to workplace injuries:
- Poor lighting and bad environmental hygiene. Bad lighting at work can affect the quality of work people do, strain the eyes and lead to headaches and fatigue. It’s important to reduce glare on screens and make sure lighting isn’t too bright (adding diffusers helps). The quickest way to combat bad workplace lighting is to take a bulb or two out of overhead fixtures, and bring in a desk lamp.
- Lack of protective elements. Take a look around your office and notice any broken hand rails or equipment with sharp edges, for example. There are ways to fix these things so that employees remain safe. Add pads to sharp corners on a desk, have the maintenance team fix broken items and replace furniture that isn’t sturdy. In addition, employees should always wear the proper protective gear when working with dirt, dust, chemicals, metal, extreme temperatures and more.
- Poorly maintained or misused equipment. Make sure all equipment is updated and in excellent working order at all times. Equipment should only be used by employees who fully understand the equipment’s function. Accidents happen when equipment malfunctions or isn’t used for its intended purpose, so make sure to schedule regular maintenance checks.
- Unclear safety procedures/lack of safety training. Employees need the proper knowledge to make informed decisions when using equipment. Make operating manuals easily accessible and hold regular training sessions with assessments. Never assume new-hires can work equipment they have said to have used in the past. Always re-train even if they’ve used similar equipment at a previous job.
- Unsafe walking surfaces. Trips and slips happen easily when water is nearby. Make sure to keep floor areas dry around faucets (sinks, dishwashers) by having the proper drainage and floor mats available. Also, when the weather turns to rain or snow, always put out additional carpets in entry ways.
Keeping safe at work is vital to the mental and physical health of all employees. Always report dangerous-looking or broken supplies, make sure you’re using up-to-date equipment, and let the proper people know when there’s been an accident or someone gets hurt. Remember, without healthy employees, good work is not possible.