Why Is Workplace Safety So Important?
Whether your business is large or small, has many employees or few, involves manual labor or stationary office work, workplace safety must be a top priority. In the long run, money spent on measures to keep employees safe pays off, as workplace injuries carry potentially enormous costs. Worker’s compensation, sick time, lower productivity, and the expense of hiring and training new employees are obvious consequences. Perhaps less obvious is lowered employee morale. If the company clearly doesn’t care about the employees, the employees may have a tough time caring about the company.
Though OSHA has strict safety guidelines for workplaces where employees use hazardous chemicals or heavy equipment, (click here for OSHA course information) employers and employees alike may assume that new hires are familiar with the proper procedures and risks. For the safety of all, it is best to assume new hires no nothing and make sure they are thoroughly educated and trained. Regularly scheduled refresher courses for even the most experienced employees may seem unnecessary, but complacency is a real danger. Even if your employees don’t seem to take refresher training sessions seriously, mandating them will have the desirable effect of keeping them mindful.
Hazardous chemicals and heavy equipment, fraught with risk as they are, do not represent the greatest dangers in the workplace. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, “slips, trips and falls” are the most common causes of accidents in every type of work environment. Warning employees about uneven floors or rickety stairs does not constitute safety training or accident prevention. If you want to save yourself and your employees the needless expense of the most frequent and yet most avoidable accidents, you must take the responsibility and bear the expense of eliminating the problem.
If a floor is uneven or has broken tiles, get it fixed. If your housekeeping involves regularly mopping tile floors, go beyond the often neglected “Wet Floor” signs and make sure your floor cleaners set up barriers between feet and the freshly mopped floor. Provide or mandate slip-resistant shoes for your employees. Perform regular maintenance on your floors, fixing holes and cracks, even and perhaps especially small ones that don’t appear to pose any risk. Look into chemical treatments that prevent floors from getting slippery.
Stairways must also be thoroughly assessed for potential risks. Handrails and slip-resistant covers are life savers. If a stairway landing has a “blind” corner, install an overhead mirror so that those going up and those coming down can avoid collision. Finally, make sure your stairways are well-lit and regularly check the light bulbs. Effective lighting is important throughout the workplace, but is especially crucial for stairs.
Workplace safety may be everyone’s responsibility, but employers have an obligation as well as a financial incentive to make the workplace as safe as possible for employees. A few extra dollars and a little extra time setting up and maintaining a safe environment will benefit everyone.