Why Workplace Safety Is Important and How to Improve It

When it comes to workplace safety, the statistics are pretty grim. As reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a part of the US Department of Labor, as many as 14 workplace deaths occur daily. There are many more accidents occurring alongside the fatalities, that sometimes have major health consequences, resulting in everything from a broken finger to a loss of limb, and everything in between. So, why so many companies choose to evade this topic?

In many cases, companies aren’t aware of the issue until some accidents do happen and they are forced to deal with it then and there. But, creating a safe environment and working on avoiding the dangerous situation from happening in the first place is a much better way to go. First, let’s see what are the actual benefits of investing your resources into workplace safety.

What are the benefits of workplace safety?

First, let’s make something clear – workplace safety requires a continuous investment of time and money, as well as other resources. But, in the long run, taking care of the safety of your employees saves you a lot of money, even if you weren’t aware of it. There are various studies that show the return of investment that accompanies this kind of business attitude.

Not only will you save money by avoiding very costly aftermaths of injuries, insurance fees or even funeral arrangements, but there is a benefit you didn’t even think about. Workers that perform their tasks in a safe and healthy environment are more productive, feel more connected to the company and invested in their roles. Just the psychological benefit of not having serious injuries around them can do wonders on their overall attitude and behavior. You can’t measure that kind of impact on your business, but you will be able to measure the loss in your revenue if you fail to achieve it.

How can a less stressful environment improve working conditions?

When the topic of dangerous work environments come to mind, people often think about construction sites, people falling off ladders, breaking limbs, etc. And those are very serious concerns to have in mind. However, as serious they are, they happen less frequently than, let’s say tripping over cables, falling down the stairs or anything that happens in a regular office. These accidents are very frequent, even if the environment isn’t dangerous at all. So, what is causing them?

Well, it is customary to blame the worker, who wasn’t careful enough. In all honesty, that is the consequence, not the cause. The cause lies in the high pressure, overly dynamic environment and intense schedules that many employees have nowadays. Simply put, it’s the stress that is making them reckless, and it’s the stress that is the cause of all of those injuries.

Just like you need to educate your people on how to use dangerous equipment, you need to work with them on self-management, stress resilience and coping mechanisms. Not only will you reduce the risk of accidents, but you will get a much, much happier worker, as well.

What are the big risks I should have in mind?

If you are working in a dangerous environment, you are probably well aware of all the hazards, and you are trained properly on how to address them. The biggest threats come from office spaces where people don’t take fire drills seriously enough. The dangerous situation might never happen, but if it does, no one will know what to do about it.

This is why when even a small and easily containable office fie starts, everyone on the floor loses their mind. Even the TV show Office made a great parody when they focused an entire episode on their utter inability to act safely and responsibly when faced with a fire.

Fires are the biggest risk in an office and there are many, many dangers that you need to have in mind. Go through the list carefully, update all of your equipment regularly, and make sure your staff is trained and well prepared. Install fire alarms in every room, fire ducts in the kitchen, and make sure everyone knows where the extinguishers are.

How can I make my employees understand the importance of this topic?

Even if your entire office space is as safe as it can possibly be, you can’t neglect the human element, the one you can never completely control. If you really want to improve the level of safety in your office, your employees need to be involved, and not just by force. Creating an accident-free zone can be a game, with rewards, milestones, and humor. If this topic is something mentioned once a year on an update training with strict attitudes and serious faces, it will never have an impact. Make safety a part of your culture, something that gets mentioned daily, and your employees won’t even be aware that you tricked them into it. But, they will surely be thankful.

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