Where there is a reward, there is always a risk. The unfortunate part of that is that so many workplaces across the country are taking more risk than they need to by overlooking both extreme and straightforward safety liabilities.
With a growing OSHA violation list and an increase of what is defined as safe and unsafe in legal regards, companies must be prepared now more than ever to address and update safety concerns quickly and frequently. Safety risks are the type of risks that can ruin a company altogether. Here are some significant mistakes that you should be aware of as you navigate the potential hazards lurking in your workplace.
It is terrifying how often companies believe that there is no way that their work environment could be considered hazardous or unsafe. The day in and day out of many businesses don’t require heavy machines or toxic chemicals, so they grow ignorant of the fact that even the smallest things can be a risk if they aren’t properly assessed.
To properly conduct a safety assessment, you can outsource this role and have someone come in to observe your safety practices. If money or resources are an issue, there are simple ways for your company to analyze and identify potential factors for risk.
For example, have employees anonymously disclose any safety concerns in a non-threatening forum. Give them a chance to voice any concerns they have about the environment they work in.
Another practice you could implement is role-reversal. Have employees train and observe in an area outside of their routine. Let them go through the process, identifying any hidden gaps in the process, equipment, storage, or anything else that causes them to be concerned.
Once an assessment has been made, you and your company must plan a strategy accordingly. Some aspects require short-term solutions, like patchwork, but other areas may require a long-term implementation to create the most secure workplace possible. You may be turned off by the likely costs associated with this transformation, but it is guaranteed to be cheaper than what could happen if an employee were to get hurt or sue the company.
As you conduct your assessment and roll out changes, you will have a better response if you openly share your goals and actions with your employees. Open communication helps them understand why the change in procedure is necessary and helps them adapt through the process.
Similar to the value of communication when it comes to running the initial assessment, many companies tend to forfeit quality communications when it comes to the actual procedures and policies that are put in place. You don’t want to be the company that claims to invest in a safe work environment when, in reality, none of your employees even know what that means. You have an obligation and a liability to make sure employees are given clear guidance on how the work environment is expected to be handled. This can be done through clear signage, legitimate and careful training (discussed further later on), and practices as simple as quality labeling of products.
An example of a company that must rely on a clear and accessible safety protocol is a grocery store. The amount of products and procedures they are legally required to implement is enough to drive any lawyer or HR rep crazy if not done correctly. An example shared by Robert C. Silvas, a safety writer at Paperfellows.com and Stateofwriting.com, is “if you have ever gone into the employee break room in a grocery store, you found that on every wall there seemed to hang a poster outlining the controls for certain hazards or the policies of using certain equipment. If you went as far as going into the back of the store where equipment and product are stored, you were amazed that every single box and piece of machinery was meticulously labeled and safeguarded. (At least that is the ideal scenario). It is not enough to simply have employees watch a video at orientation and take a five-question quiz. They must be reminded often and clearly what policies they are expected to maintain.” That is why labeling and signage can be your best protection against any claims of negligence. If it is clearly posted not to stick your hand in the boxing machine, then an employee will have a heck of a time fighting a case in which they shoved their hand in the boxing machine.
Especially when it comes to heavy machinery, companies can go under fire quickly if it is proven that they negated the importance of proper training. The urgency in which some employers feel that their employees need to get on the floor is the number one mistake they can make when it comes to training. An expert best says it at Essayroo.com and Australianhelp.com, David E. Lear, when he writes, “the pressure of time is no match for the cost of poor training.” He elaborates on the idea that although quick training reaps quick reward in the sense of having someone on the floor doing work, it costs the company more when it comes to the quality of work and uncalculated risk of poor preparation.
There are both tangible and intangible benefits to ensuring that you are making employees aware of potential hazards, ways to avoid accidents, and you are tracking their progress throughout the safety training. You won’t know what level of liability you are putting out on the floor, and you want to feel confident that you did what you could to prevent any possible disaster.
Also, having a clear outline of what the training entails and how it is implemented can protect you from the legal repercussions of reckless employees. If you can prove that you provided proper training and that the employee agreed to the understanding and implementation of such exercises, you put yourself in a much better spot for defense. This is not the sole purpose but should help you stay motivated when it comes to training your people well.
If you are not in the habit of documentation, you need to start like yesterday. Long gone are the days where employers word trumped that of the employee, and rightfully so. To maintain a workplace that is credible and trusted, your best game plan would be to implement systems that support the documentation of pretty much everything that goes down day today. This does not mean you place your employees under a microscope and make them feel like all their actions are being monitored. Instead, you can implement automated systems that regulate certain safety features and keep up to date logs of inventory, chemicals, work orders, and more. It does not have to be a lofty task, but it is something worth taking the time to strategize and consider. An example of something many companies put into action is the use of security monitored doors. They either purchase specific doors, or they are buying door tracking systems that keep a record of every time the door was opened and shut or left propped open. As simple as it seems, this investment helps employers know when employees are ignoring signs that say not to prop open the door for hazardous or unsafe reasons. This also helps the company keep track of the traffic coming in and out daily.
Lawyers can have an absolute field day with your company if they know that documentation is not part of your system. At that point, they can tell whatever story they want to use to win the case.
On that note, it is also essential to have a security measure put in place to prevent the tampering of documentation. You want to ensure that any data received and stored is accurate and reflects the events as they indeed occurred. The idea here is that the wrong information could be the information that ruins your companies credibility and trust factor as well as increased risk.
These are four of the most common mistakes that companies make when it comes to the implementation of security practices. Little do companies, both large and small, realize that the thing they are the most concerned with, making money, rides on the idea that they may not show much concern for at all, safety. There are strategies and awareness practices involved in the process. It takes time and money, but in retrospect, the cost of prevention is so much lower than the price of overlooking flaws in your system. You can avoid this pattern of deficiency by being willing to assess your current environment, communicate change and expectations, value training, and documenting all the actions you are taking to prevent an accident from occurring.
As an expert in the areas of health and safety, Beatrix Potter, has made her mark as a writer at Academized and Boomessays writing services. In addition to this, she has impacted the writings of many by offering her services as a tutor for MBA Essay Help in her spare time.
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