Special Topics in Safety Management

7 Steps to Safer, Healthier Employees

Safe and healthy workers are productive, satisfied workers. That’s good for you and the organization’s bottom line.

You don’t need us to tell you that you have a tough job. But taking these seven steps can make your job easier and your workplace safer. You’re probably already doing most or all of these things, but just in case, here’s a quick review.

1. Ensure compliance with safety and health standards. Make sure you’re complying in every detail with every OSHA standard that applies to your operations and your workplace. Also check state regulations, which if they’re stricter than federal standards, take precedence. And don’t forget about your own safety policies. Ensure compliance with those rules, too.

2. Keep employees informed about hazards. Identify every hazard in every work area and in every job, and make sure employees who might be exposed to any hazards know:

  • What the hazards are
  • How they are dangerous
  • How to protect against them
  • What to do in the event of exposure to a particular hazard

3. Take appropriate steps to minimize risks. This involves many things including:

  • Well-conceived and implemented workplace safety and health programs
  • Routine and thorough inspections and safety audits
  • Effective engineering, administrative, and work practice controls
  • Frequent and effective employee training
  • Appropriate PPE to protect employees from hazards when controls are not enough
  • Routine workplace maintenance

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4. Teach employees to work safety. Training is one of your most power accident-prevention tools. Teach the information, skills, techniques, and procedures employees need to know to be safe and healthy. Train frequently to keep workers up do date on workplace and regulatory changes—and to keep them aware, alert, and prepared to work safely.

5. Monitor performance and provide feedback. Don’t assume that workers will use what they learn in training or do what their supervisors tell them to do. For all kinds of reasons workers will decide to take risks or ignore warnings and instructions. Make sure your supervisors monitor safety performance and provide positive or corrective feedback to maintain safe and healthy behavior.

6. Pay attention to employees’ suggestions and complaints. You may not be able to use all the suggestions or be thrilled about the complaints, but listening to employees is essential if you want to get them to be on board with your safety and health programs and to follow your safety rules. The big plus here is that employee participation leads to employee ownership, which leads to employee-driven safety and a safer workplace.

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7. Move quickly to correct problems. Foot-dragging over hazard abatement sends a bad message to employees. It says you don’t care about their safety. So take swift and effective action whenever a safety or health problem is brought to your attention.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about an unusual way to keep workers safe and healthy on the job. Although at first it may sound just a little “outside the box,” the more you hear, the more wisdom you might see in this interesting approach.

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