Long gone are the days when employers could have their employees do everything they asked for without any complaints or resistance. People today are more aware of their rights than ever before. If an employer fails to ensure the physical and mental well-being of an employee today, the employee will take no time to switch jobs.
People have started to prioritize their health and safety above everything, which is why many employers are seen investing in making their workplace safe and healthy for everyone working there.
Making changes to the office layout, improvising the process flow, and providing employees with ergonomic office equipment are some ways employers are working towards making their workplaces healthy and safe for their employees.
While it's an employer's responsibility to make the necessary changes, it's not their responsibility alone to ensure the workplace is a safe and healthy place to be. The employees are equally responsible for establishing a safe and healthy working environment.
If an employer implements some workplace health and safety standards, it's on the employees to take them seriously and follow them. As long as the employers and employees aren't on the same page regarding workplace health and safety, you can't expect things to change much.
Why Is Workplace Health and Safety Important?
There are 2 possible reasons for workplace accidents. Either the employees weren't careful enough, or there was a loophole in the process flow that somehow overlooked the safety of workers.
You must ensure your workplace is accident-proof. You can only try to make that happen because no matter how solid your workplace safety program is, you can't completely avoid workplace accidents. You can work on reducing the likelihood, though.
Another critical factor in workplace health and safety is how an employee works. Depending on the nature of the job, it's an employer's responsibility to ensure all workers are provided with an ergonomic work environment. From ensuring the employees are sitting in the correct posture to ensuring the safety of workers working with heavy machinery, an employer has got to make sure all the possible safety risks and hazards are well taken care of.
The question is, why? Why is workplace health and safety so important?
Affects Employee Productivity and Efficiency
If an employee has to work in an environment that's not comfortable or where there are plenty of safety hazards, they won't be able to focus on their work as well as they should.
For example, if your job requires you to sit in front of the computer all day long and the chair you're sitting on is extremely uncomfortable, that's making your body, your focus will be diverted to the discomfort you're feeling. Will you be able to work to the best of your potential? No.
If your job requires you to work with heavy machinery that makes a loud noise when it's operational, it'll hurt your head if you don't have earplugs to keep you from getting affected by the machine's noise.
You see, if you don't ensure your employee is safe and comfortable at work, their efficiency and productivity will take a direct hit, and that'll eventually affect the growth of your business. Puts Employees at Risk of Injury and Disease
If you don't provide your employees with the safest and healthiest work conditions, the chances of them getting injured or sick are quite high.
For example, if you don't work on workplace ergonomics, your employees are at a high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). This can affect an employee's productivity, and if it isn't addressed on time, it can also lead to lifelong physical impairment.
Puts You at Risk of Excess Health-Related Costs
If an employee gets injured at work or develops any work-related health complication, you'll be liable as an employer to bear the healthcare cost. If you don't ensure your workplace is safe and healthy for your employees, it'll only result in high healthcare costs for you.
Affects Your Brand Image
Another very important reason why ensuring workplace health and safety is so critically important is how it affects the brand image of your business. If you establish yourself as a safe and healthy workplace, you'll automatically gain the attention of prospective employees.
People are more eager to work with companies that put their employees' health and safety on top. If your employees are happy and satisfied with you, they'll work harder and will also happily go the extra mile to benefit the business.
How to Ensure Health and Safety in the Workplace
With a clear understanding of how critically important workplace health and safety is, it only makes sense to wonder how you can ensure that your workplace is absolutely safe and healthy for your employees.
Some ways in which you can make your workplace healthy and safe for everyone are listed below:
1. Carry Out a Risk Assessment
The first thing you've got to do when working towards making your workplace healthy and safe is to carry out a risk assessment. In this assessment, you'll evaluate and analyze all the possible workplace hazards and risks that can possibly affect the employees.
From the type of office equipment the employees are using at work to how they're working to how they're moving about at work, you've got to cover each and every aspect of your employees' day at work.
Once you've identified workplace hazards and risks, you'll be able to work on possible solutions and ways in which you can mitigate them and ensure your employees' health and safety isn't at risk.
2. Train Your Employees
As we've said above, no matter how strict your workplace safety policy is, if your employees don't cooperate, it's of no use.
Before you can expect your employees to start complying with the health and safety policies and standards, you first need to educate and train them about the importance of workplace health and safety and how they can ensure their well-being at work.
Only if the employees know the seriousness of what they're dealing with will they be able to work towards complying with the policy.
The next step is to train the employees about the health and safety measures that you've implemented at your workplace. The employees wouldn't know how to use the new equipment or follow the new process flow if they didn't have any clue about it.
For example, if you've replaced all office chairs with ergonomic office chairs, the employees won't know how to adjust these chairs to suit their comfort needs if they aren't trained to do it.
3. Keep Your Employees in Loop in the Health and Safety Program
It's human nature to feel repelled by anything that's imposed on them. The same is the case here. If you set strict workplace health and safety policies and impose them on your employees with immediate effect, you may not be able to achieve the response you expected.
One of the best ways to ensure health and safety in the workplace is to keep all the employees in the loop when developing the health and safety program. Share with your employees the risks and hazards you've identified during the risk assessment and discuss with them the possible solutions that you've got in mind. Ask for their input. The more your employees will feel like they're a part of the change, the more responsibility they'll take.
4. Always Investigate Accidents
No matter how small a workplace accident may be, don't let it pass. Investigate what caused it. It's only then you'll be able to work on mitigating the root cause that led to the accident and ensure it doesn't happen again.
5. Provide Your Employees the Right Equipment
The biggest risk factors at work are poor ergonomics and a sedentary lifestyle. Thanks to the automation of nearly everything, most jobs require workers to sit in one place all day long. This puts them at a massive risk of MSDs because they're sitting and working in an incorrect posture most of the time.
One way to ensure your employees' health and safety at work is providing them with the right equipment. You can replace the office chairs and tables with ergonomic workstations. You can introduce standing desks with anti-fatigue mats.
You can even set up a small gym area and equip it with basic equipment like No Installation Folding Treadmill 02 and exercise mats where the employees can bring their bodies into motion and stretch a bit to release the tension in the muscles that is a given after sitting in the same posture for long hours.
6. Establish an Effective Reporting System
If there's an effective reporting system in place, no accidents or workplace hazards will go unnoticed. Encourage your employees to report anything that they feel can be a risk to their health and safety. The employees can even lodge any symptoms of workplace-related health complications that they may be suffering from so that they can be given the right medical attention on time.
Ensuring workplace health and safety isn't a one-time task. It's a continuous process that requires both employers and employees to work in coordination all the time. You can't bring a change if you don't put in conscious efforts towards achieving it. A safe and healthy workplace isn't easy to set up, but if you take the right steps, you'll soon be able to provide your employees with the best work conditions!