Is workplace safety a genuine priority or an easy-to-ignore policy?
Worker safety is a hot topic for new legislation. As this article from Forbes points out, the new emphasis on infrastructure means more jobs are opening up in historically dangerous industries and should be met with a focus on worker safety. While any effort to protect hard working Americans is a positive, why should any of us wait for the government to get involved, especially when worker safety is financially rewarding? Safety initiatives not only protect and benefit the workers who are being kept safe, it leads directly to business profitability.
When we examine the statistics for some of the most dangerous industries, everyone goes into “do something” mode. The problem with a “do something” perspective is that it almost always finds its application in government intervention, which is costly, time consuming and cannot always be efficiently regulated. But it isn’t just government policy that fails a worker’s on-the-job safety. Company policies can be just as inefficient, which can be costly, even fatal, to you and your employees. Thankfully, your safety issues can be easily remedied and without waiting for the government to agree on and pass news safety regulations.
Safety Policies Can’t Work Unless Implemented
That might seem like a no-brainer, but safety priorities must be more than a slogan on your website, or a dust-covered policy stashed away in the HR files. If your company claims a safety policy, it must be stated and enforced. If you have priorities that supersede safety, your employees will know that and behave accordingly. Are employees more likely to be reprimanded for slow speed than a safety violation? If so, employees have motivation to work in dangerous conditions. Working employees to the point of exhaustion or pushing employees on the road could mean catastrophe. Whatever safety policies you claim should be consistent with the real-world expectations of management.
The idea of "production vs. safety" must give way to the vision of "safe production." This whole issue is complicated by the tendency to define safety as "the lack of accidents." - Terry L. Mathis, EHS Today
Safety Must Be Principle, Not Policy
Are you hiring safety minded employees? Workplace safety is not just a list of rules that HR skims over in an orientation meeting. Workplace safety must be integrated into every part of your organization. That means that management must set the example as much as they set the policy. Safety protocols need to be followed every day and in every situation. A disciplinary response should be doled out to employees who choose to ignore the policies designed to keep them and their coworkers safe. In short, safety must be a main tenant of your company’s culture. Otherwise, your safety plan is not worth the paper it is printed on.
“The real value of focusing on safety in the workplace goes beyond simply ensuring that employees comply with safety rules and regulations. As it turns out, safety can affect employees’ motivation, loyalty, and — ultimately — quality of work.” -Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture
Employees Must Be Heard
When policies are made by a central government whose lawmakers will never have to live under their own legislation, it is usually met with resentment from the people. So it goes with business leadership making safety procedures they are not required to live by. Company executives do carry a unique burden for the health and well being of the staff and the business, but they are not always familiar with the jobs and work related struggles of the employees under their supervision. For safety policies to be accepted and acted upon, employee input and a customer perspective must be a part of the equation.
“Rules that are badly written or frustrating for customers are often quietly ignored when management isn’t watching. Over time, this can cause confusion over which safety guidelines are “serious” and which ones can be ignored.” - Matt Doyle, VP Excel Builders
If you are ready to start, ramp up or better enforce a company safety plan, Workplace Safety Screenings can help. We craft and execute comprehensive safety plans to benefit every stakeholder in your organization. We understand the safety needs of various industries from the perspective of both the business owner and the employee. Click here to make safety a priority at your place of business.