New Year, New Workplace Safety Measures
A new year offers the opportunity for a fresh start. For some that means employing the KonMari method to spark joy in overstuffed closets and storage, others might be finding their fun in healthy diet changes and a renewed commitment to the gym membership they opened 4 months ago and promptly forgot about. A new year presents the perfect time to take a look at your workplace safety measures and determine whether they’re still serving the company well. As the year goes by, and especially at year’s end, it’s easy to become distracted from best practices when it comes to safety. Slowly policies and procedures begin to slip and employees may be exposed to growing risk. Take this opportunity to review what’s working and what needs work.
It’s important to revisit safety programs yearly and be sure that employee and employer protocols are up to current standards. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is an excellent resource to check laws and regulations as they relate to specific industries and to find out what education might be necessary to keep your team within requirements and avoid any fines. Workers are most effective when they know their safety and well being is a top priority and making a standing appointment each year to offer refresher courses on workplace safety is a great way to ensure that all parties are up to date. Empower your staff with the knowledge and training to do their work successfully and with security.
Start by reviewing broad safety regulations such as injury and violence prevention and sexual harassment awareness training. Reinforcing these requirements yearly will keep them top-of-mind and encourage a respectful and secure workplace. Make time for specific training necessities as well such as targeted hazard prevention or specialized safety training for environmental and social hazards. This may look like de-escalation techniques for those with client facing roles who work alone such as real estate agents or home health nurses, or updated CPR and first aid training for those working in the field. For remote workers on the road, it may be helpful to run a course on cold weather working, fall prevention, or road safety.
This is also a great time to begin new safety programs and initiatives. Make safety fun by creating incentives for months without accidents or injuries or hold monthly seminars with guests speakers on topics that will help company members gain knowledge, skills, or even become safety leaders for their departments. Setting safety goals that continue throughout the year will foster an ongoing culture of workplace safety.
A written workplace safety policy is a vital part of a robust safety program. Employees can continually revisit the policy to know how to handle and approach various situations. A comprehensive safety policy is also an acknowledgment of standard operating procedures for both staff and management when hazards or risky situations are faced. Both parties know where their responsibilities lie building confidence in a safe workplace.
If your company doesn’t have a policy, create one by assessing risks and hazards, determining appropriate protocol, and enforcing those standards. Communication is key in regard to new and existing safety policies, so be sure to set staff members up for success by clearly and directly disseminating information. Revisiting these annually with a company meeting will ensure that staff members start on solid footing. Ask your staff to weigh in on whether the policy is effective and if they feel they are adequately supported. Invite feedback from employees to engage them in the process of building a safety protocol. Not only will they feel valued and heard, but your policy will turn into a living document that truly reflects the needs of the organization.
Think through whether one policy is enough to cover all workers, or if you may want specialized policies for certain groups. When a company employs lone workers (those who work outside of sight or sound of colleagues) it is important to have a workplace safety policy that addresses that group directly. Employees that work alone face increased risks and identifying the potential hazards and desired responses specific to their jobs will provide a firm foundation when those circumstances are presented. The SoloProtect team provides support in helping companies build out a safety policy that fully considers the needs of lone workers and would be happy to collaborate with you to create a policy that provides peace of mind to both employer and employee.
Many companies use safety and protective equipment and the beginning of the year is the perfect time to check the integrity of those resources as well as provide updated training on use and care. For some that may mean apparel such as hard hats and safety vests – review best practices so that employees are able to use the provided equipment properly. For companies that utilize employee safety devices and technology, this is an essential time to refocus on proper usage to make the most of their solutions.
Check in with vendors and have them run a refresher course on how to use their programs and equipment. This will allow employees to ask any questions they have come across in their day-to-day work and to make sure that the company is taking advantage of all of the available features. For companies using personal safety devices, requesting webinars or online training can be a flexible way to reach the entirety of the user base.
SoloProtect offers weekly and bespoke webinars to SoloProtect ID customers as well as training through the customer portal, Insights. In addition, the Customer Service team is available to walk users and management teams through training, answer questions, and troubleshoot any device issues. This ensures that all users understand how to operate their employee safety devices in case of on-the-job aggression or hazards – when it comes to safety, an employee should have full confidence in their abilities in the event that they need to use the solution. Vendors should be eager to offer support as it is an opportunity to demonstrate the ROI for their services.
"To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace."
- Douglas R. Conant
Employees do their best work when they feel supported, listened to, and cared for. Investing in the safety of your employees and taking care of that investment with continued training, clear policy, and dedicated solutions will pay dividends in satisfaction and commitment over time.