The costs of workplace injuries and accidents can be incalculable, both to the victim of the injury and to the company. Those costs can include lost work time, medical expenses, reduced quality of life, the expense of addressing a safety issue, and possibly even expensive legal consequences.
Safety studies in the medical and aviation industries (two of the most safety-conscious industries in the world) have shown that the most effective approach to safety is building a team culture in which every employee is enrolled in making sure that every day is “incident and injury free.”
While every industry has its own guidelines and procedures for specific safety issues, here are some of the successful teamwork strategies common to nearly all industries where safety is a factor:
• Create a company culture of safety. Make sure your whole staff knows that safety is a priority, and understands what safety looks like and how to maintain it in your company.
• Build safety conversations into the routine. Communications are important to the whole team, by means of regular safety meetings to discuss new information and problems and solutions; employee newsletters; and channels for reporting safety issues.
• Make sure employees are informed. Keep your employees current on any changes in policies, procedures, materials, and hazards. Ignorance is a dangerous enemy of safety.
• Provide excellent training. Make sure new employees get good training not only in correct use of equipment, but following all safe practices. Follow up for all employees with regular reviews and practices of safety procedures.
• Emphasize employee participation. Get employees involved in hazard detection, problem solving, and decision making. Employees know their own jobs well, and know both when there’s a safety issue and how to make the situation safer. Everybody has something to contribute to a safer workplace.
• Be responsive to employee concerns. In too many workplaces, employees who report genuine safety issues are treated as “troublemakers” or “complainers.” For your company to have a good teamwork culture, it’s essential that all supervisors and managers understand that they must treat employees’ safety concerns with respect.
• Reinforce safe behavior. Give positive feedback—and lots of it—for safe performance, such as specific company rewards and incentives for the department or team with the best safety performance. Use positive feedback and training to correct unsafe behavior.
If you are a manager or an owner, you will want to make sure your company has these or similar safety team strategies in place. If you are an employee, consider offering to help develop some of these practices in your workplace, and show your supervisor how they will benefit the whole company. Workplace safety is a team accomplishment.
Rob Levine & Associates specializes in Personal Injury throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability throughout the country. As “The Heavy Hitter ®” Rob Levine not only works hard on your case, but also believes in making a positive impact in the communities he serves. Through internal resources, education and volunteerism, Rob Levine & Associates strives to help prevent accidents, as well as raise awareness around the needs of our elderly and returning veterans. For more information visit www.roblevine.com, or call 401.529.1222 or toll free 800-529-1222.