In the U.S. a worker died from a work-related injury every 99 minutes in 2019. Even if you don’t work in a traditionally dangerous industry, falls, strains, sprains, environmental exposure and more can affect your employees’ well-being and performance at work.
Ethical companies like these four from 2021’s World’s Most Ethical Companies list, highly value the health and safety of their employees. Use these tips to make sure ethics and workplace safety are both top priorities in your organization.
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1. Engage Employees
In order for your safety plan to work effectively, everyone needs to do their part. When employees take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their coworkers, fewer accidents and illnesses will occur.
Weyerhaeuser’s safety vision, which is posted at every work site, states, “Be Accountable: Safety Starts with Me.” Then, it lists easy-to-understand steps managers and employees should take to keep safety as a top priority:
- Set clear expectations
- Ensure a safe workplace
- Inspect & follow up
- Hold people accountable
- Role-model and motivate
- Own & commit to safety
- Assess risk & take action
- Follow procedures
- Find & fix hazards
- Intervene & accept feedback”
2. Hold Vendors to the Same Standards
To keep your employees safe, you might implement all the measures possible: training, equipment checks, PPE and more. But everyone you work with has to participate. Internally, your safety record might be spotless, but if you don’t require the same safety procedures for vendors, suppliers and contractors, you put your employees at risk.
“We expect companies providing services to NextEra Energy to have the same high standards of safety and health as we do,” says the company’s Safety Policy. This includes the belief that “safety should not be compromised for any other business priority.”
Share your safety policy and procedures with vendors before signing a contract. If they aren’t willing to put your employees’ safety first, move on.
3. Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut
It’s easy to design a health and safety program, implement it and let it be. However, the world is unpredictable. Your program needs to be agile enough to change, if needed.
In AECOM’s safety, health and environment program, the company commits to “providing a highly-effective SH&E management system that is continually monitored to respond to changing internal and external factors.”
For example, an accident due to machine malfunction might make you revisit your current schedule for machine replacements or maintenance. Or, in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies with employees in a physical workplace had to rethink almost all their health and safety measures.
Create a program that meets your organization’s current needs, but review it often to make sure it’s still effective.
Good documentation ensures your safety investigations are compliant and can help you prevent future accidents. Download this free workplace accident investigation report template to record and the important details of safety incidents in your organization.
4. Make Room in the Budget
You can’t say that safety is your top priority but give it a pittance in your company’s budget.
PepsiCo’s Environmental, Health and Safety Policy says that the company will “provide appropriate resources to implement our environmental, health and safety management system, which identifies, assesses and manages risks. We share environmental, health and safety best practices across the company.”
Be realistic when you calculate how much money and time are required to carry out your safety plan. In addition, allocate some extra funds to health and safety in case disaster strikes. Cutting corners shouldn’t be an option when it comes to safety, regardless of your company’s financial situation.
Ethics and workplace safety both need to be top priorities in your company. When you fuse them together, you ensure that nothing is more important than providing a healthy and safe environment for employees, client, customers and anyone else who spends time in your workplace.