Tips For Improving Workplace Health And Safety

Improving health and safety standards in any organization can have a halo-like effect on the business. Not only will workers be safer, it’s likely there job satisfaction and productivity will also increase, if meaningful improvements have been made.

Solid health and safety practices can also be directly linked to a businesses bottom line, through the many fringe benefits it offers, such as improved procedures that make operations more efficient to reducing fines and unnecessary litigation that may arise when regulations are breached.

Below are some tips to help any business get started  improving health and safety in the workplace:

Have a clear health and safety policy

The paper itself won’t change much but making sure you understand your business, its risks and what the solutions you are going to use is the vital first step that underpins everything else you do.

Involve your staff

The law is concerned we communicate, cooperate and co-ordinate – and they’re all valid points – but listen to your staff, watch how they work and understand why they work the way they do. The next few steps are about reflecting what really happens and finding solutions.

Risk assessments

Going through the business looking at what you, how you do it and what could be done better allows you to understand what needs improving, what the real risks actually are and also allow you to understand how people work in reality.

Use the risk assessments to deliver improvement.

The more your staff see you making an effort the more they will buy in to a new culture. This is about physical improvements in the workplace, better guarding, more space – but it’s also about understanding where Supervision needs to be better, understanding why staff may take short cuts.

Talk about health and safety.

It’s all too common for health and safety to be mentioned once a month at the end of a staff meeting whereas sales targets are mentioned daily; equally, we’ve all heard the equivalent of “hurry up – but take care”. Your message needs to be clear and unambiguous – don’t mix the message or give the impression of lip service they can quickly eliminate the positive things you say.

When people report accidents – investigate them and find out why they happened. It’s not about finding blame – it’s about understanding why and addressing those problems.

“Health and safety improvements should come from a top-down approach, directors need to be proactive in developing a positive safety culture for their workplace. In the long-term, this leads to an internal cultural shift that can have an indirect impact on external brand affinity and brand loyalty.” according to David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Effective Software

Walk the patch

Make sure you, your management team and supervisors walk their areas of responsibility and check on health and safety; safety inspections effectively.

Manage and Supervise

It’s obvious but all too often we fail to manage safety as we manage other aspects of the workplace. Don’t ignore bad practice, make sure people are wearing their PPE where required. Staff do respond when we manage them effectively.

When doing the safety inspections – investigate anything that keeps cropping up

Fixing a blocked fire exit every week is better than leaving it blocked, but understanding why things get left there and providing a solution is the best answer. Again it shows visible effort on your part and that message just reinforces everything that’s gone before.

Keep encouraging staff to report problems, accidents and even solutions.

Make sure you put people through the right training – the right health and safety training and the right skills training allow everyone to work in the way you hope for.

There are no simple solutions – signs are often promoted as a way of improving health and safety – the odd one may help, most simply warn of residual risk – but a sudden flurry of posters is usually viewed by staff as window dressing. This is key – every step you take must be clear and aim to deliver real change.

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