According to theNational Safety Council (NSC) Injury Facts 2011 Edition, the total cost of work injuries in 2009 was $168.9 billion. The same publication also states that the average cost per employee death is $1,330,000 and the average cost for each medically consulted employee injury is $36,000. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that manufacturing business, construction companies, and restaurants are taking the need for improved workplace safety seriously. But, creating a culture that promotes workplace safety isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Here are a few things you must do for your business to create this culture of safety that is so necessary.
Establish Official Safety Protocols for Your Business
The policies and protocols cannot be selective if you want them to be effective tools for promoting workplace safety. Everyone in the company must follow them. If you’re not willing to take a top-down approach to safety, you’re going to have a hard time selling the importance of these policies to the men and women who work for you.
Educate and/or Train Employees Frequently
It’s not enough to simply create safety policies, write them down, and expect everyone to follow them. In addition to leading by example, you also need to train your employees on the proper safety procedures as well as how to properly utilize the safety equipment you’ve purchased for their protection. Tell them what the policies are. Show them how to comply. Be an example for compliance and you are setting the stage for the culture of safety you’re working to create.
Establish a Process of Accountability
For any good policy to work, you must hold people accountable for failing to comply. You need to establish a policy for this as well and let everyone know. Warnings, reprimands, evaluations, and even termination are possibilities for those who simply refuse to comply with the safety policies of your organization. You need to spell out the specific process that leads from minor reprimands to consequences that are more serious to let everyone know how seriously you’re taking safety in the workplace.
Just as there are consequences for non-compliance, you can also encourage compliance by offering rewards. It can be something as simple as money, added vacation days, etc. Or you can offer rewards that grow with time. Six months of compliance, for instance, could net a gift certificate, one year could earn a safety bonus equal to one day’s pay or an additional vacation day. When you consider the costs, mentioned above, of one single injury that requires medical attention, a few bonuses is well worth the investment. Be creative and make the bonuses something employees will want and appreciate.
The real key to creating a culture of workplace safety is to walk the walk and not simply talk the talk. If owners and management follow the policies you create, employees are likely to do so as well. But don’t forget the importance of having a general liability insurance policy. Despite your best efforts to limit or mitigate accidents and injuries in the workplace, they will sometimes happen. You need to adequate business insurance coverage, including workers compensation insurance when they do.