How often do we hear companies say that safety is their number one priority? We hear the same kinds of things from government agencies, educational institutions, and even non-profits. It is all good – at least to the extent that organisations do prioritise safety. That is where you and I come into play. Workplace safety is not the exclusive responsibility of employers. We employees have a role to play as well.
Real safety is a team effort. It occurs only when an organisation’s management team comes up with comprehensive safety strategies and policies, followed by every team member working together to make sure those strategies and policies are both implemented and maintained.
So what is the employee’s role in workplace safety? How can all of us promote workplace safety wherever we work? Keep reading to find out.
Following the Rules
Maintaining a safe work environment requires having certain rules in place. For instance, construction workers in many parts of the world – the UK and US included – are required to use a variety of safety devices while on the job. Workers whose tasks force them to work at height are just one example. They must be tethered to a fixed structure with an approved harness.
Few would argue that a harness and tether line impede movement to some degree. But the tethering rule exists to keep construction workers safe. The benefits of that rule are lost if it is not followed. The same goes for all of the other safety rules within a particular industry.
Not following the rules for expediency’s sake is never a good idea. Ignoring the rules because they seem foolish is equally unwise. Employees owe it to themselves, their families, and their employers to follow all safety rules to the letter.
Using Equipment Properly
Improper use of equipment is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. As such, a good way to improve workplace safety is to learn how to use the equipment properly, followed by actually doing so.
Along those same lines, companies here in the UK are encouraged to use an HSE equipment supplier to guarantee that all safety-related equipment meets established standards. It is not enough just to use equipment safely. The employee should also have the confidence of knowing that the equipment they do use meets safety standards.
Reporting Incidents and Safety Concerns
Employees can also promote workplace safety by vocalizing. At the very least, safety incidents should be reported to management as quickly as possible. Even slight workplace injuries are worth reporting for the simple fact that preventative measures cannot be taken if management doesn’t know an incident has occurred.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for some incidents to go unreported. Employees might be unwilling to say something out of fear of losing their jobs. Others might be afraid of making waves with their co-workers. Still, reporting incidents helps everyone. Reporting provides the information management needs to take corrective action.
Above and beyond incident reporting is making safety concerns known. This is another area in which many employees struggle. They do not want to upset the boss or give the impression that they are troublemakers. So they remain silent. This is not good from a safety perspective.
If an employee notices a legitimate safety concern, it needs to be vocalized. Management needs to be made aware so that they can take action. Meanwhile, other employees should also be made aware so that they can avoid accidents while the issue is being addressed.
Practicing Common Sense
Of all the ways employees can contribute to workplace safety, none is more important than practicing old-fashioned common sense. There are a lot of unsafe practices that could be avoided simply by thinking things through. Take lifting heavy objects, for example.
It shouldn’t be necessary to institute a rule to force employees to pick up heavy objects by squatting down rather than bending over. It is just common sense. Moreover, once someone has learned proper lifting techniques, said techniques should be practiced without the need for coercion.
Common sense should naturally steer employees away from carelessness. It should motivate workers to exercise caution. Common sense tells employees to slow down, pay attention, and consider the consequences of every decision and action.
All in This Together
A good way to wrap all of this up is to point out that we’re all in this together. We know the world is a dangerous place. We know that even the safest workplaces are fraught with inherent threats to personal safety. As such, staying safe requires a concerted effort from every member of the team.
Hopefully, safety is a genuine priority where you work. You can contribute to workplace safety by following all the rules, using equipment properly, vocalising safety concerns, reporting safety incidents, and practicing common sense. All of us working together in our respective workplaces can reduce accidents and injuries.