Employers are under pressure more than ever. Every employer has the obligation to ensure a safe work environment, no matter the industry. Work health and safety standards are rapidly evolving. But, with all the time pressures, looming deadlines, and increasing costs, how can employers stay on top of workplace security?
Demonstrate Management Buy-In Through Communication
Businesses use lag indicators to measure the impact of WHS on their bottom line. It’s important to note that the cost of prevention is far more affordable than the costs associated with workplace injuries. It’s key to introduce regulation. But, a health and safety policy won’t cut it.
Management has to communicate the value of a more secure workplace. The goals and values of the safety program must be transparent. Employees won’t have the drive to follow the necessary procedures unless the management is committed to the task.
You must lead by example. Show your employees that safety is your top priority. You can prove to your workers that the company values them through your commitment to WHS.
According to Safe Work Australia, company campaigns coupled with education and enforcement are effective at improving safety behaviour.
Meet with your staff whenever new WHS issues arise. Arrange a group discussion to keep everyone in the loop. Weekly toolbox talks for the site team are also a good idea. A platform for discussion amongst management and workers boosts safety culture.
Lots of Training and Procedures
Providing employee training is one of your legal obligations. Each worker must do their part to ensure workplace safety. Whether legislation compels you or not, make sure everyone undergoes training.
This applies to everyone: contractors, managers, directors, employees… and you too. You can have a ‘classroom-styled’ training session or you can do it on the job. Perhaps a computer-based approach is more suitable for your business.
Now, who will train your workers? For instance, you can recruit an independent WHS consultant or you can approach a further education college. The method must fit the needs of your workforce. When devising your comprehensive training and procedure plan, think about the following:
Are your workers informed? Sure, they are great at operating specific machinery and equipment. But, do they know how to act in worst-case scenarios and emergency situations? Make sure to set up emergency preparedness plans.
Are your workers competent? Every employee must understand their role at the job site. This especially goes for new employees. However, you must examine the competence of your existing employees as well.
Do you document your policies and procedures? All WHS documents must be accessible at all times to everyone. Have a strategy in place that will allow you to recognise when a worker has read a document. This way, you’ll ensure everyone acknowledges the information you provide.
And, you must provide it consistently. It will allow you to hold everyone accountable when necessary. Such strategies also allow you to prove due diligence of a strong WHS program.
Inspect and Assess
Perform risk assessments. See where your workplace stands now. There’s always room for improvements. First, identify hazards. What can put people in danger?
This could be anything from dangerous substances like asbestos to improperly configured ductwork. For instance, if your ductwork is particularly old, it may be high time you install a new update your HVAC system or have the old one thoroughly inspected. Establish who is at risk after you identify the hazards.
For example, a warehouse employee is most at risk of a back injury. Make sure everyone who is on the workforce knows about the risks. Assess each risk, analyse the findings, and take appropriate action.
Despite your best efforts, an accident might happen. If it does, make sure to investigate. Even if an incident doesn’t lead to a serious injury, you must conduct a full investigation.
You’ll prevent it from happening again if you find out the cause. A full investigation can be time-consuming, but it will help you avoid more severe consequences.
Support Workers’ Mental Health
Each year in Australia, work-related mental health conditions incur $543 million in workers’ compensation. It’s a matter that the management can’t afford to ignore. You must do what you can to help workers deal with stress.
Encourage them to take regular breaks. Make sure they use their full allocated lunch breaks. Lead by example. Stress travels top down. If you exercise good mental hygiene, your employees will follow.
Try talking with them about their mental health. Set up a notice board and allow workers to post what’s on their mind. You may even arrange a mental health group. For instance, the group could meet once a week for a chat.
Whether you’re working in the oil field or on a construction site, workplace safety has to be a priority. At-risk businesses must continually work on improving their WHS program. It’s a lot of work. But, by following these tips, you will have a more secure workplace.