As the New Year gets underway, now would be a good time to double down on your workplace safety efforts to see if there are any areas that you may be overlooking.
While your safety regimen may be top notch, there is always room for improvement and you can consider these options as covered by EHS Today:
Employ a three-second rule
Workers should consider using the three-second rule before resuming a task after a break or disruption. During this time before resumption, the worker can conduct a mental hazard check, which EHS Today refers to as STEP:
S – Stop before resuming a job or beginning a new task.
T – Think for three seconds about the task you are about to do.
E – Ensure that any potential hazards have been identified and mitigated.
P – Perform the job.
Take advantage of OSHA training
The OSHA Outreach Training Program provides training for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces. The program also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.
Cal/OSHA in 2010 signed an agreement with federal OSHA to give California employers access to federal outreach trainers. Through this program, workers can attend 10-hour or 30-hour classes delivered by OSHA-authorized trainers. The 10-hour class is intended for entry-level workers, while the 30-hour class is more appropriate for workers with some safety responsibility.
Through this training, OSHA helps to ensure that workers are more knowledgeable about workplace hazards and their rights.
Reward employees for attention to safety
Many companies reward individual employees who are especially mindful of safety procedures. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant. Low-cost rewards such as $10 gift cards for everyday necessities (gas, groceries, fast food) are perfect for on-the-spot rewards or as redemption options in a point-accumulation program.
Communicate with non-English speaking workers
Non-English speaking laborers, and Hispanic workers in particular, have more workplace accidents than their peers. Some safety experts blame this on the language barrier that may exist. The language barrier may keep them from reporting workplace hazards and they may not understand your safety instructions.
If you have non-English speaking workers:
- Ensure that training is fully understood.
- Try to get any safety training materials also printed up in Spanish, or in whatever is their language.
- Give them a contact in your organization that speaks their language, so that they can get answers to any questions they may have or to report concerns.
Urge your employees to speak up
Let your workers know that there will be no retribution for reporting perceived workplace hazards, no matter how minor. You can also implement the third suggestion above and reward employees that point out safety issues.
Temp workers need safety awareness too
Temporary workers often slip through the cracks when companies are training staff on safety. And it’s easy to forget when you get a temp that comes in for a day or two that they need to be aware of the hazards in the workplace and how to avoid getting injured.
The issue is especially important in terms of your company getting cited. Federal OSHA has made the safety of temporary workers one of its priorities. OSHA in 2014 published a guide for protecting temporary workers. To access the guide and for tips, check out: www.osha.gov/temp_workers/
Make your training engaging
The best safety training programs are those that employees remember. Some good ways to make sure the information is retained include using real-life examples, story-telling, skits and strong video presentations.
Do more than OSHA requires
OSHA’s regulations are meant to be comprehensive, but every workplace is different and for a truly effective safety program you should fine-tune your safety requirement specifically for your workplace. In other words, you can go a step beyond what OSHA requires.
Watching each other’s back
You should also instill a sense of responsibility among your staff to look out for each other. If a worker sees another performing a job in an unsafe manner, the worker should step in to offer assistance. This can be done without being intrusive or confrontational.
Some good approaches include: “Hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety?” and “As you know, you need to be wearing cut-resistant gloves to perform that task.”
Establish a leadership-driven safety culture
A safe workplace starts from the top. The company’s leadership needs to buy into its safety culture. “If your employees see leadership investing time and money into workplace safety, they’ll understand that it’s a priority for your company. And ultimately, they’ll make it a priority for themselves as well,” EHS Today writes.