Workplace safety is naturally of the utmost importance when it comes to the well-being of staff. Injury or loss of life at work is intolerable where a greater degree of care could have been taken to prevent the unfortunate circumstances from coming to pass. Most of us have experience of poor workplace safety standards, and we’ve each noted how easy it would be for things to be improved overnight with a few tweaks.
If you’re looking at ways to improve safety standards in your company, so as to minimise risk to staff and avoid costly payouts (for example, see what are asbestos trusts?), we’ve put together a few tips that could mean the difference between a well maintained and safe workforce, and an understaffed and injured workforce.
Observe the workplace in action
All too often, safety measures are put in place by teams of people on ‘walk-arounds’ that aim to evaluate the potential danger of current working practices. The problem is that these walk-arounds generally tend to occur when the shop floor is in shut down. Of course, with the peace and quiet, things can be discussed, and sensitive topics can be debated away from the ears of workers.
The only problem is that, in doing things this way around, there may be discrepancy between what is thought to be happening (on paper) and what actually happens throughout the working day in terms of working practices. By observing the workforce in action, any corner-cutting can be identified and addressed – perhaps time frames for task completion are not suitable, for example, meaning that personal safety is put at risk to complete tasks on time for the sake of being seen to be a productive employee (and therefore increasing job security).
A top down strategy
It’s not just workers who cut corners in order to maintain a certain level of productivity and therefore maintain their employment prospects within the company. Supervisors may also be under pressure to turn a blind eye to inadequate levels of worker safety so that they too are able to report further up the chain of command that their department is towing the line. Managers, regional managers, and even general managers can all be guilty of allowing certain known working practices to go ahead despite the risks to personal safety so that productivity and output do not fall below levels expected by stakeholders.
In this sense, a top down review of safety procedures should be carried out such that each stage of management appreciates the demands on workers and can make the necessary amendments to working practices.
This may lead to the realisation that more staff are required or that practices need to be mechanised for speed. In any case, workers will be safer, and payouts will be fewer.
HR Future Staff Writer