June 13th, 2019 | Nathan Anderson, Vice President, Product - Healthcare

10 Ways to Create a Safe Workplace Culture

Safe workplace with happy co-workers

With June being National Safety Month, several companies across the nation are paying special attention to the security of their organizations. However, workplace safety goes beyond physical security when it is ingrained in an organization’s culture. A robust safety mindset not only helps prevent injuries in the workplace, but also translate into decreasing turnover, workers’ compensation claims and absenteeism. On the other hand, a safe workplace helps the company build trust among their customers and the community they serve. To effectively start reaping the benefits of workplace safety, companies need to build an environment that makes safety a priority. The following are some ways to do it.

1. Perform an assessment

An organization can’t know what it needs to do in order to increase safety until it knows where it stands. The first step in creating a culture of workplace safety is to perform an assessment that will reveal what risks are currently present. Combing through operations and output of every function, department as well as physical space, will help provide the initial blueprint for creating a plan to avoid any pitfalls.

2. Create safety guidelines

Once companies know where they stand and what risks they need to address, they can create clear safety guidelines for employees to follow, as well as explicit consequences for breaking certain safety rules. However, rules should not occur in a vacuum; for any safety plan to work, organizations must also supply its employees with the tools they need to follow these guidelines.

Workplace training in progress

3. Provide training

Creating safety protocols is important, but they won’t help in reducing risks unless companies provide regular, comprehensive training to their workers on existing hazards and the procedures designed to avoid them. Although it’s important to train employees on everyday risks—including injuries that may be caused by equipment or falls—companies should not ignore workplace violence in its training. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, one in five workers in the United States report feeling unsafe at work and one-third say they wouldn’t know how to handle a workplace violence incident. Despite this growing concern, one-third of organizations don’t train workers on how to address violence in their workplaces.

4. Encourage open communication

Although in an organization, the management makes final decisions about safety guidelines, it’s important to get regular feedback from workers in order for procedures to be truly effective. Employees encounter safety issues daily, and as a result, are more familiar with challenges. In this scenario, they are also best equipped to make the right recommendations for tools they need to be safe. By taking their input while making rules, employees feel a sense of validation and take greater ownership. Often this leads to innovative and cost-effective ideas that also addresses the issue effectively. Sending the message that leaders care about what workers’ think will help them feel more comfortable and satisfied on the job.

5. Create a culture of accountability

Everyone in an organization should have a personal stake in workplace safety, so a culture of accountability is necessary. On the managerial level, people need to be responsive when issues and concerns come up to show that safety is a priority in the organization. Also, there should be accountability for workers who do not follow the rules, as well as procedures in place to report problems. However, while it’s important for safety violations to be addressed, consequences should not be too punitive unless the problem is severe. Accountability should not turn into a blame game because that will discourage employees from bringing safety problems to management’s attention.

Hire with Care

6. Hire with care

While employees can be empowered to take responsibilities to mitigate risks, employers can ensure they do so by providing a conducive environment. When organizations have vacancies, the need to keep operations running smoothly can often translate into hiring candidates without conducting thorough and compliant background checks. However, doing this can lead to a host of disasters—ranging from workplace violence to costly employee claim-suits. To prevent the problems that arise out of a hasty hire, organizations should invest the time and money in comprehensive background checks, which can be conducted on both domestic and international job candidates.

7. Ensure ongoing protection of your employees

Background screening at the time of hire is critical, as you invest time and money upfront to ensure you know who you’re hiring but what happens after the hire? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that after four years of employment, 10% of employees will have been arrested twice! Pre-empt and prevent risky behavior by providing ongoing protection against violence, litigation, fraud and theft through comprehensive workforce monitoring solutions.

8. Don’t forget the small steps

Keep visitor records to increase workplace safety. Organizations should keep track of all the people coming in and out of their offices. A simple sign in and out at entry and exit points of a building can go a long way in maintaining safety. Also, contractors who come to a company on a regular basis can be issued special passes that will allow them to get into the business.
Performing regularly announced as well as surprise safety drills is another effective step in ensuring workplace safety. From floods to fires and everything in between, everyone in a company should know how to evacuate a building when an emergency occurs. Safety training should include information on building floor plans, escape routes and refuge areas.

Workers wearing correct safety gear

9. Monitor successes

Safety measures should not remain static and changes should be made as needed. To ensure that safety plans are still effective, companies should keep track of metrics. This includes an annual account of how much is being spent on workers’ compensation claims and the number of incidents that have occurred. Also, successes should be celebrated within the organization, which will go a long way toward keeping workers motivated.

10. Lead by example

Workers will not take safety measures seriously unless they see their leaders also following protocols. Safety cannot be a “do as I say, not as I do” affair: To truly create a culture of safety in an organization, its leadership must walk the talk and set the example for everyone else to follow.

From bottom to top, the Sterling team is driven its mission to provide a foundation of trust and safety our clients need to create great environments for their most essential resource, people. We believe everyone has the right to feel safe.

Do you have questions, or would you like us to help you create a safer environment at your workplace? We would love to hear from you, contact us today to brainstorm with us or arrive at a screening solution customized to your needs.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.