For the small business owner, the modern workplace can be a veritable ticking time bomb of challenges just waiting to explode. There's team morale, efficiency, productivity, and a whole bunch of other official business-y terms that businesses use!
Jokes aside, it's the responsibility of the business owner turn boss to ensure employees operate in an inclusive, healthy, safe working environment. But how do you put this into practice, exactly? Especially when you're already operating on a paper-thin budget?
No one wants to be this guy, right?
You wanna be this guy!
Yes, workplace safety is a serious topic, and yes, it can be an involved, costly, and time consuming process, but nowadays businesses like yours have access to numerous inexpensive, cost effective ways to ensure your workplace is safe for employees, contractors, and lone workers alike.
If you want to know how you can use these for your business, read on!
1. Get Up To Speed On OH&S Rules, Regulations, & Common Concerns
A safe, secure, happy working environment starts with you! Like most things in business, change has to start at the top, and as both a boss and business owner, you need to set an example for your employees. Be the safety role model you want to see in the world. You’re the boss for a reason, no?
Employees are much more likely to follow you on the journey to workplace safety if they see you taking the lead. Make safety a core pillar of your business, and you'll never be left wanting.
Long story short? You don't ever want to find yourself in a workplace situation like this:
Whether you’re part of a large corporation or small business, this means cracking open the books - or websites - and digging in. There’s no quick or easy way to do this. Bringing yourself up to speed on the current health and safety standards takes time, so you'll need to put in the hours and do your homework.
Remember, no two businesses are ever the same, which means the specific legalities of your workplace's health and safety requirements will also differ. The who, what, when, where, and why of your specific health and safety obligations will depend on the type of business you operate, its size, as well as where it's located. Laws that govern workplace regulations in the United States differ from those in Australia, just as these differ once again from those in New Zealand.
Information alone won’t make your business a safe place to work, it’s what you then do with this knowledge that can set your business up for success. With it, you’ll be better placed to identify common risks and hazards within your workplace, and put measures in place to address them if not eliminate them entirely.
A few of the most common safety concerns include:
Working With Chemicals
A lack of requisite training or knowledge can quickly lead to insufficient labeling processes, as well as improper transfer, disposal, and handling techniques.
Working In High Places
Workers operating at height require proper fall protection equipment, such as ladders, harnesses, and other protective gear to best minimize the inherent risks posed by these environments.
An increasing number of employees find themselves working alone, whether this be in some far-off remote location, or simply staying back late at the office or the corner store. Often referred to as ‘lone workers’, a lack of proper protection and monitoring devices can see you neglecting your lone working force and putting these employees at risk.
2. Training, Training, Training
Hands up if you rolled your eyes, sighed, or slumped back in your chair when you read the words 'training'. We get it, it's not all that exciting, but the point still stands: effective on-the-job training, education, and experience is one of the best investments your business can make.
Remember, prevention is almost always better - and far cheaper - than finding a cure, which is why training is just so important. In fact, effective training is almost guaranteed to reduce the instances of risks, hazards, and risky employee behavior in the workplace...
So where do you start? The internet provides a limitless wealth of training resources at your fingertips, and for little cost, so make the most of it. With a little searching you'll find countless online resources that will assist you in training your employees in a variety of areas. You'll also provide them with a voice to express their safety concerns, and better equip them to identify hazards in the workplace.
You’ll find PowerPoint and SlideShare presentations on workplace conduct. Checklists for construction sites and guides to fire safety. As well as ways to identify hazardous lone working environments. There’s no limits to what you’ll find online, you just need to start looking.
It’s worth noting that the world wide web will only get you so far. There will always be specific areas of operation where specialist training is required, but if you’re cost effective and efficient with the rest of your training processes, you’ll better be able to afford the kind of professional workplace safety training your business needs to maintain a safe working environment. It's a win / win situation all 'round!
3. Invest Wisely In Proper Safety Equipment & Devices
All of this information and training is great, but it’ll go to waste if you don’t put it into practice. Knowing the safety requirements, procedures, and emergency procedures of your workplace is great, but how are you actively working to prevent these situations from arising, or dealing with them when they do? With the proper safety equipment and devices you can do just this.
The easiest, and most effective way to do this is to undertake a job hazard analysis, which involves assessing the potential risks of your workplace, and then finding the most effective ways to prevent them, and deal with them if they do. These reviews will also bring you up to speed on the kinds of safety equipment, lone worker devices, and communication equipment you’ll need to research and purchase in order to address these concerns. Again, prevention is better than a cure. Thumbs up all 'round!