Worksite safety is important for all companies since accidents can happen in any business sector. Creating a safe environment for employees is a part of business ethics, but robust safety measures in your company also offer a return on investment. Accident prevention requires time and capital, but this is a small price compared to the avoided losses and delays.
Each year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes data about injuries, illnesses and fatalities in US companies. The most recent statistics are for 2018, with 2.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses, and 5,147 fatalities. The value of human life cannot be described in dollars, but several studies have compared the measurable costs and benefits of accident prevention:
TheUS National Safety Councilconducted a survey among CFOs, and 60% reported a benefit of $2 or more for every $1 invested in safety.
According to a study by the European Commission, the benefit-cost ratio of accident prevention can range from 1.21 to 2.18.
Workplace safety is beneficial not only for employees but for company profits as well. However, it requires resources, education and effective management. This article will provide some recommendations to improve worksite safety.
Tip #1: Create a Culture of Safety
Accident prevention measures are even more effective when safety becomes a part of the company culture. When employees follow a safety-first approach for all tasks and projects, the risk of accidents is greatly reduced. Managers must be aware that a safety mindset contributes to accident prevention, which means the staff needs adequate resources and updated information. For example, companies must make sure they don’t run out of PPE by planning purchases in advance. When a specific task creates risks that are not usually encountered, safety managers must give clear instructions on how to be prepared.
Tip #2: Train Your Staff
Training is a very important element of worksite safety. Consider that PPE is more effective when the staff uses it correctly, and safety protocols are easier to follow when everyone is familiarized. Companies must also make sure their safety knowledge is updated since technologies and standards are constantly changing. Workplace safety training should be a requirement when a company hires new personnel. However, the same applies when a current employee is promoted or assigned new tasks. Companies should also provide general safety training when deploying a new technology or process, to ensure correct usage.
Tip #3: Make It Your Top Priority
Some jobs are more dangerous than others, but everyone in a company is exposed to accidents. For this reason, worksite safety requires commitment from the entire staff. The benefits of prevention measures are not always evident, since their purpose is to avoid negative outcomes. When a task is completed without incidents, it may seem like the time and money used for safety were wasted. However, this is a misconception; when nothing happens, it means that prevention measures were successful. Workplace safety is often viewed as a cost that cannot be avoided. However, when the potential losses due to accidents are considered, safety becomes a lucrative investment. The same principle applies to the time dedicated to safety: prevention measures can make some tasks slower, but the delays caused by accidents can be much longer.
Tip #4: Conduct Daily Safety Meetings
Worksite safety should become a part of doing business, just like sales or marketing. Daily meetings are very important; they ensure that safety measures are being followed while providing an opportunity to check that all safety materials are available. Daily meetings can also be used to provide specific instructions before starting an activity that is not a part of daily operations. Digital forms are very useful for safety management, and they can be used for Field Level Hazard Assessments (FLHA) and similar documents. Printed forms must be carried around, and the information they contain is unknown until the document is submitted. However, the data in a digital form can be stored immediately and seen by safety managers.
For example, assume that a safety inspector found a scaffold with a damaged part.
If this is written in a printed form, the information will take longer to reach safety managers.
Someone may use the scaffold before the issue is reported, causing an accident.
Tip #5: Proper Personal Protective Equipment
Using personal protective equipment (PPE) is a cost-effective way to prevent accidents. When working in construction or other heavy industries, the minimum PPE includes safety glasses, high-visibility vests, hard hats, and steel toe boots. Many companies have added face coverings to the minimum requirements, as a prevention measure against COVID-19. Specific tasks may require additional PPE, which depends on the risks involved. For example, earplugs are necessary when high-decibel noise is present, and fall protection harnesses should be mandatory when working at height.
Tip #6: Keep Everyone Accountable
Some job positions involve more risks, but anyone in a company can cause an accident. Therefore, the entire staff must be made accountable for workplace safety. Leaving the responsibility to safety managers only is a mistake – everyone interacts with risks, and especially the technical personnel. By involving the entire company in worksite safety, anyone can act as a safety inspector if needed. Data collection for audits and reports becomes easier, and any employee can warn others if they are not following safety measures.
Companies should prioritize worksite safety measures since they protect their employees and their profits. Several studies agree that the cost of preventing accidents is much less than the financial losses they cause. In other words, each dollar invested is recovered, while protecting the health and lives of collaborators. Workplace safety requires commitment, and managers must make sure that the entire staff gets adequate training. Daily meetings are useful for keeping track and providing additional instructions, and safety should ideally become part of the company culture. By adding these into your daily worksite habits, you will create a safe environment for you and your team.