Workplace safety is one of the biggest concerns of any business, and rightfully so. In 2019 alone 2,836 work-related fatalities were reported to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Additionally, there were around 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported to OSHA. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder that many companies are in need of safety tips for work.
2020 brought some brand-new challenges too: due to COVID-19, organizations had to face substantial shifts throughout their workplace. In just a few short months, companies had to switch from optimizing their relationship with customers to rebuilding the whole employee management structure from scratch. In those conditions, issues such as return to work safely, and the overall workforce readiness have become major concerns for workplace safety and risk management.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced employers and managers all over the world to get creative and adapt to new limitations of technology, time, remote communication challenges, and hindered employee management. But one thing is managing the tried-and-tested veteran team members, even if your communication channels have changed. Providing a sufficient level of remote training and onboarding for new employees that will guarantee workplace safety for people, and legal compliance — is a completely different task. And that’s exactly the challenge hundreds of organizations throughout the United States are facing right now, having no choice except training and onboarding their workforce remotely.
Our clients’ experience proves that utilizing online training software and safety checklists and workflows will help workers stay alert and ready, reduce the risk of incidents, and their most common use cases include:
- Raising Safety Standards and Awareness
- Day-to-Day Digital Reporting and Checklists
- Streamlining Communication to Deskless Employees
- Making SOPs and Company Protocols Available
- Human Resources needs
- Compliance Purposes
- Remote Training Opportunities
Using dedicated modern software solutions for employee management for immediate reporting and consistent workplace safety control will raise the overall safety standards and help increase the flawless production performance rates.
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This blog will describe key workplace safety tips to know in 2021, and how a digital workforce management solution can help establish a proactive process to enhance workplace safety, security, and compliance across the workforce while driving additional productivity.
12 Workplace Safety Tips Every Employee Should Know
1. Report Unsafe Conditions ASAP
Fixing unsafe conditions and preventing bad things from happening starts with YOU. Employees must report unsafe conditions to their managers as soon as they notice something isn’t right. Managers are legally obligated to create a safe working environment so if you report something as unsafe, they have to correct it as soon as possible. From wet floors to a ladder that is slightly bent and more, make sure you speak up so you can create a safe workplace for yourself and your colleagues.
Using mobile checklists and forms app allows you to report unsafe conditions in real-time so your manager can correct the issue straight away. Plus, by digitizing your incident reports you get the ability to send immediate updates to all employees alerting them to the problem and how to avoid injury.
2. Follow The Latest Safety Procedures
Whether your company purchases new equipment or just updates safety procedures, you must know the new safety procedures and safety topics for work associated with the change.
For example, just in October 2020, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued temporary guidance on enforcement of initial and annual fit-testing requirements in the Respiratory Protection Standard for Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs). Enforcement discretion for this specific protocol is limited to healthcare personnel or other workers engaged in high- or very high-exposure-risk activities, but it’s important that every employee will receive all the safety updates and explanations regarding new regulations.
Make sure you fully understand the new protocol and ask questions for clarification. A mobile training app allows you to receive training updates immediately and your manager can create a quiz to ensure you understand the changes.
3. Don’t Take Shortcuts
Workplace safety and handling procedures exist to keep your employees safe, especially those when involving heavy machinery. It is essential to use each tool and machine according to instruction, shortcuts will only cause injury and just aren’t worth the few minutes you may save. So, be sure you’re using the right tool, the correct way.
As an employer or employee manager, it is your moral and legal obligation to make sure the conditions at the workplace are safe, and every employee is well aware and trained properly before they start the actual work. That’s why investing the time and money in a thorough workplace safety training program can save you a lot on money and grey hair on churn, sick leave, and medical insurance payments, in the long run.
Research from Toronto’s Institute for Work & Health shows that workers who had been at a job for a month or less had three times the risk of suffering a lost-time injury compared to those who had been at a job for over a year. Additionally, a lack of experience can lead to a new worker not fully understanding or evaluating risks while on the clock, thus putting new employees and those around them at additional risk.
4. Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks is not just required by OSHA but it’s just common sense too. The entire reason that OSHA included the regular breaks is common sense, when workers are tired, they’re more prone to incidents because awareness of their surroundings is hampered by exhaustion. Taking breaks on a regular schedule helps keep employees fresh.
5. Set & Follow Emergency Protocols
Emergencies don’t often announce themselves, like fire, floods, or tornados for example. So you must be prepared for everything in your region that can disrupt safety to your company, your employees, and your customers. As far as safety topics for work go, emergency protocols are a no-brainer.
Therefore, have procedures in place if an emergency should happen:
- Anticipate natural disasters and similar emergencies by checking social media alerts and the Weather Channel.
- Ensure your insurance is in check.
- Identify risks to your company.
- Identify crucial points to your company and how to effectively protect them.
- Create an emergency management plan.
- Make sure your employees complete Emergency Response and Evacuation Training.
In other words, your job as an employer is to identify anything that your employees can be exposed to and create a clear process on what to do in case of an incident. Most categories have OSHA-certified guidelines that are typically consistent across industries so customize your protocols to these procedures. After all the risks are identified, prepare digital checklists for your employees based on that, such as:
- Safety hazard observation
- Incident report
- Vehicle accident report
- Safety inspection form (for supervisors)
- Repair order ticket
- QA checklist
- Safety inspection checklist
It’s proven that when employees go through a checklist when arriving at the job site or before using equipment, the chances of incidents or injuries drop dramatically.
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6. Reduce Workplace Stress
The American Physiology Association has linked job stress to health problems, burnout, workplace accidents and more. Employers must take steps to prevent stress from interfering with an employee’s productivity and well-being. An EAP (Employee Assistance Program) can be highly beneficial.
You must identify any risks and threats that your employees can be exposed to (both physically and emotionally) in order to create a safe workplace environment and easy reporting opportunities.
7. Make Safety Gear A Must
Proper safety gear is a must when it comes to workplace safety, whether you’re operating machinery or working with hazardous materials. Proper footwear is just as necessary as well as it prevents you from slipping or falling. Be sure to ask your employer what the proper protective gear is when handling a certain job and if they will provide the clothing needed.
8. Follow Ergonomics Standards
Ergonomics refers to adjusting the job to suit an employee’s physical needs. Such as the office ergonomics, workspace design, and the work environment to help maintain productivity and safe working conditions. From standing at a machine all day or sitting at a computer desk, the equipment should be at the proper height to avoid straining one’s neck. Keyboard height can even affect the back, shoulders, and wrists. Therefore, follow these safety topics for work and ensure your workstation is designed to suit your needs.
9. Follow Industry Standards
Make sure that your employer is complying with all the proper standards, it’s important that you’re aware and up to date on the standards are for your industry. Think of it like this, OSHA has strict standards when working with hazardous materials, therefore it’s incredibly important that you use material safety data sheets (MSDS) for hazardous substances. If you believe your employer isn’t complying with or meeting these standards, you must go to human resources right away.
If you’re an employer — make sure to create a checklist that also includes hazards like fire, electrical, and ergonomic, you can find sample programs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website to know exactly what topics to cover.
1o. Create “The Safety Squad” From Employees
Rely on your staff to help find solutions to workplace safety issues. Consider assembling a five or six-person “Safety Task Force” whose job is to review the company’s safety manual, plus the building, property, and internal protocols that are focused on keeping offices, clients, and employees safe. When you ask your employees directly what they feel could lead to certain problems, it can help open your eyes to problems you were blind to.
When employees lead the safety processes, from management to the field, everyone is involved in every part of the company’s safety efforts so hazard reporting and corrective actions are on all staff members to execute. This kind of safety culture helps build ownership across the entire company. In addition, involving your employees helps them feel more recognized and safer once procedures are implemented.
11. Conduct Safety Surveys
On a regular basis, issue a safety survey and cover everything — how employees feel about management’s commitment to safety, the effectiveness of safety training, and if it’s easy to report concerns. These insights should provide employers with insights into what procedures need improvement and areas of concern.
12. Move Around!
The U.S. pays $100 billion each year in medical bills, lost work time, and other costs because one in four occupational injuries is related to low-back-strain. Some of these strains relate to lifting and twisting, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s about poor posture, like extended sitting in compromised positions. As such, encourage your employees to stand up more (consider sit-stand desks) and to walk around. Take a 5-minute break every hour to just get up and move around can be highly effective.
Workplace safety isn’t something employees should have to think about just during training workshops or drills. Instead, it’s more effective to include workplace safety in the company culture by encouraging everyone to be accountable for maintaining a safe workplace. Together, all of you can reduce the number of accidents and injuries.
Bottom Line On Workplace Safety
OSHA’s regulations and rules are important, but true workplace safety starts with the idea of each employee’s personal responsibility, cemented into the company culture. When your employees are well-trained and familiar with all the latest workplace safety standards, they are ready to identify unsafe conditions and possibly avoid accidents or respond quickly and correctly if they happen.
More importantly, involve every employee in the collective workplace safety and grant them the right to raise flags and take responsibility for themselves and their colleagues as often as possible.
All that will be much easier with a time-saving and easy to use employee communication app, that can combine safety library, training platform, communication, and reporting channel, and digital paperwork bank — all in a mobile app.
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