While your company may strive to raise safety awareness and help employees develop a safety-first mentality, there are things you may be doing (or not doing) that are secretly preventing your workplace from becoming safer and better.
Here are five crucial factors that often hinder workplace safety:
1. Unclear Safety Rules & Expectations
Federal laws require companies to adhere to certain safety measures and standards of hazard control. However, safety rules expressed in legalese may not always be easy to understand. Instead of posting the “law” around your workplace, summarize safety rules and expectations in clear, concise terms.
If you haven’t done so, have team leaders, managers, or supervisors to take time to explain safety procedures to employees in person. That way, employees can ask questions and clarify any misunderstanding or ambiguity on the spot.
2. Lack of Enforcement
Companies can't enforce safety rules with a few pieces of paper. They need people to make sure that the rules are not only followed but respected. Besides ensuring that company leaders are diligently enforcing and explaining safety rules, businesses should encourage every employee to report unsafe or potentially hazardous conditions and activities to their superiors without fear of repercussion.
3. Little or No Motivation to Be Safe
That may sound ironic; after all, who doesn’t want to be safe? Yet, it's not always easy to be safe, especially when you are trying to accomplish numerous tasks with very little time. In stressful situations, it is easy to shove safety under the rug and hope for the best.
However, companies can motivate workers by giving not only verbal encouragement but also awards and recognition to those who have consistently upheld safety values.
4. Long Work Hours & Excessive Workload
Mistakes are most prone to happen when people are in a rush, tired, or both.
In addition to wisely delegating an appropriate workload to your employees, it's paramount to have a reasonable shift schedule and give your employees enough rest hours.
According to a government study, “moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication.” The study found subjects who went 17 to 19 hours without sleep had the equivalent of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% and a response time 50% slower than normal.
To ensure optimum cognitive ability and performance, it's vital for employers to establish a shift schedule that gives employees enough time for quality, uninterrupted sleep. Employees perform best, says WorkSafe BC, with at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night.
5. Settling for 'Good Enough'
If diligence and alertness are the characteristics of a safety champion, then complacency is safety’s deadly foe. According to Safety Toolbox Topics, complacency is one of the most troubling problems workers face.
Once workers settle into a routine, it's easy to get comfortable and become oblivious to obvious problems.
To avoid complacency, companies should give workers constant safety feedback during shift hours and meetings. Additionally, offering safety drills and training to all employees will also help reinforce the importance of safety and help everyone stay ahead of the curve.