• Management Tips

10 Ways to Improve Safety in the Workplace

The National Safety Council’s stark revelation that work injuries cost $42,000 per medically consulted injury in 2021 and exceed $1.3 million per death demonstrates the substantial economic impact of workplace accidents.

However, when a worker is injured or loses their life on the job, the effect extends beyond monetary considerations, affecting morale, productivity, and the overall well-being of the workforce.

That’s why understanding how to improve safety in the workplace is not just a matter of fiscal responsibility; it’s a commitment to the welfare of your teams.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at ten best practices for improving health and safety policies within your organization, paying special attention to how a safety management system can assist you with this.

The Importance of Safety Improvement

Safety improvement brings valuable returns. From a business perspective, it ensures compliance with industry requirements, enhances efficiency, and minimizes expenses related to:

  • Time off
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Disaster mitigation
  • Lawsuits

Improving safety in the workplace also creates a positive public image and boosts employee morale. This commitment to safety is essential for safeguarding your people and providing a secure, productive work environment.

And while it’s true that a safe workplace is everyone’s responsibility, from entry-level employees to the CEO, it’s the company that sets the tone, and here is how to do it effectively.

Read more: Paper vs. digital: why it’s more secure to manage your safety documentation with software

10 Ideas to Improve Safety in the Workplace

Safety improvements can vary depending on your industry, regulatory requirements and hazards, but there are two components they all have in common: consistency and a continuous commitment.

1. Conduct Regular Safety Meetings

Regular safety meetings aren’t just one of health and safety trends you’re recommended to follow. They’re essential for your field teams, instructing on how to improve safety in the workplace, wherever they are – construction site, wind farm, aircraft cabin, ship deck.

They also allow your most experienced operators to share safety ideas and best practices based on what they actually experience in the field.

Despite their significance, safety meetings don’t have to be tedious or overly formal. Light, friendly talks have more chances to be productive because they’re quick and to the point.

Key principles a successful safety meeting follows:

  • Stays on task
  • Talks about current hazards
  • Discusses incidents since the last meeting
  • Encourages workers to brings up concerns

You can conduct these meetings at your workplace as often as needed, ensuring they remain productive without becoming bureaucratic.

2. Reward Safety-Promoting Behavior

Encourage your employees to be more safety-minded by rewarding them for adhering to protocols and promptly reporting incidents, at the same time guiding on how to improve safety in the workplace.

Note that this approach differs from rewarding employees for a specified time with no incidents. Surprisingly, the latter may encourage workers to avoid reporting unsafe behavior or injuries for fear of breaking their “streak.”

A more productive way to improve safety in the workplace with rewards is to recognize actions that keep the workplace safe, including:

  • Attending safety meetings
  • Completing near-miss reports
  • Inspecting tools and machinery
  • Participating in training classes

For better effect, use rewards that work for your employees, whether a monetary reward, public recognition, or a catered meal.

3. Encourage Breaks

Sitting too long, bending improperly, or working in awkward postures can lead to workplace musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) – injuries that affect the muscles, tendons, nerves, cartilage, joints, and spinal discs.

Work performance and environment can contribute significantly to WMSDs, and regular breaks during the workday are necessary for people to rest and rejuvenate.

They are also necessary for businesses, as overexertion injuries cost employers $13.4 billion annually.

However, sometimes employees aren’t willing to take breaks, and may resist your advice and encouragement for several reasons:

  • Workload pressure and tight deadlines
  • Fear of falling behind the schedule
  • Lack of designated break areas
  • Fear of being judged by supervisors for taking breaks
  • Encouraged “workaholic” mentality
  • Poor time management

To address these challenges, you need to clearly communicate the benefits of breaks and often lead by example. Creating a safe work environment where breaks are seen as essential for safety and productivity can contribute to a healthier work-life balance.

4. Provide Employee Training

A dedicated training program is an excellent way to improve safety in the workplace. It can feel like the beginning of something new – a great fit if you’re just starting formal safety protocols.

The type of training you need depends on many factors, but the most common include

  • First aid
  • Cybersecurity
  • Fire safety
  • New equipment
  • Correct PPE (personal protective equipment) usage

Another thing to consider is that not all employees require training, and you need to take several steps to figure this out:

  • Conduct a skills assessment
  • Use performance reviews for insights into employee strengths and areas that need development
  • Discuss career goals
  • Gather feedback from supervisors
  • Identify industry-specific standards, certifications, or regulations that employees need to comply with
  • Compare the skills and competencies of your workforce with industry benchmarks
  • Identify areas where your organization can improve.

The process may seem demanding but today’s tech market offers enough tools helping improve safety in the workplace through training, from go-to mobile apps and automated test assessments to certificate approvals.

Read more: How Siemens Gamesa, a leading wind service provider, reduces the training completion time using digital checklists >

5. Maintain a Clean Workplace

Cleanliness is key in many workplaces, especially in the medical and hospitality industries. A clean workplace protects workers, patients, and clients, and the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of public hygiene.

Cleanliness goes beyond mere sanitizing and disinfecting – a clean facility is the organized one in the first place.

Ensure your employees clean up spills immediately and keep floors free of debris. Aisles and walkways should remain clear of boxes, carts, or objects that may become trip hazards. Tools, supplies, and first-aid kits must have designated spaces so everyone knows where they are.

Running safety toolbox talks is one of the ways to deliver these guidelines. No need to make them too heavy or formal – just outline the main things that are relevant to the environment your people work in.

6. Partner with Occupational Professionals

Occupational clinicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists are up to date on the latest safety practices. Working with them to improve workplace safety helps you proactively protect your employees.

Physical therapists play a crucial role in ergonomics, helping design workspaces and practices that minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Occupational therapists focus on enhancing overall workplace functionality.

Their expertise can extend to assessing the impact of tasks on employees’ physical and mental well-being, offering solutions for a safer and work environment.

Collaborating with these professionals allows you to tailor safety protocols to the unique needs of your workforce. Also, these people can provide guidance on preventive measures, recommend ergonomic adjustments, and offer rehabilitation strategies for employees recovering from injuries.

7. Prioritize Reporting

Workers must understand the importance of reporting safety incidents, even those that may seem minor at first glance. This is because everyone gains from incident reporting – a process crucial for identifying workplace hazards and implementing preventive measures against future incidents.

To improve safety in the workplace, it is essential to provide employees with a user-friendly method for incident reporting. Encourage open communication on safety topics and establish a system that allows employees to report incidents.

Implement regular training sessions to educate employees on the significance of reporting incidents promptly. Create awareness about how incident reports contribute to the overall health and safety documentation. This educational approach helps in breaking down any perceived barriers to reporting, fostering a culture where everyone feels responsible for safety.

Industries with specific reporting need to customize safety reports based on the nature of the work and potential risks involved, tailoring them to align with the unique requirements of the workplace.

8. Conduct Regular Inspections

Routine inspections ensure you stay current on workplace conditions. They are proactive measures to improve safety in the workplace so that you find potential hazards before someone gets hurt.

Some inspections, such as safety audits, are planned events. They ensure compliance with OSHA standards and identify weaknesses in various departments. They have requirements based on your industry and involve formal reporting.

Other inspections are informal. You may conduct them regularly to maintain a safe workplace. You may also have an inspection before an audit to ensure compliance or after a safety incident to correct a problem.

Read more: How ZITON, a leading provider of main component exchange services, cuts the time for maintenance inspections by 72% with digital checklists

9. Create an Open Dialogue

Knowing how to improve safety in the workplace relies on one factor: open communication.

After workforce safety training, reporting, inspections, and meetings, you must encourage your workers to come to you with ideas, questions, and concerns. Emphasize to your employees that you want to hear from them about safety in the workplace.

Most importantly, make it easy for people to speak with you about what bothers them.

A digital reporting system can facilitate dialogue. It allows workers to write incident reports and for management to submit follow-ups. Regularly acknowledge and appreciate employees who actively participate in the safety dialogue, reinforcing the value of their contributions.

10. Implement a Culture of Safety

Your previous measures contribute to building a safety culture in the workplace. By consistently implementing these and other ideas, you foster an environment where safety is a top priority.

You can strengthen this culture by publicly endorsing and advocating for safe work practices. When individuals perceive your facility as a safe workplace, it not only enhances your public image externally but also uplifts morale internally.

Recognize and celebrate achievements related to safety, reinforcing the notion that safety is a collective effort. This proactive approach helps embed a culture where safety is not just a set of rules but a shared value embraced by all.

Improving Safety in the Workplace Using Digital Tools

Knowing how to improve safety in the workplace is the first step. The second is to implement necessary changes and proceed with them.

Fluix can give you all the tools for efficient safety management – an app for site inspections, safety checklists, automated approvals, and extensive reporting. Make your workplace a safe and resilient environment by leveraging solutions developed as a result of our 10 years of experience serving safety-critical industries.

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