The majority of an adult’s waking hours is spent working in the office. That’s why as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your employees safe and healthy.
Employers are both legally and morally obliged to minimize the risk of accidents and prevent illnesses among the staff as they must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Law, more so as at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Committing to a culture of safety and well-being in the workplace increases productivity and boosts staff morale, among other key benefits. And, it does not matter whether you’re an established industry giant or a fledgling startup.
If your business belongs to the latter category, allow this article to help you out by handing out some tips to maintain health and safety in the workplace, as well as lay out the benefits of a safe and clean workspace.
How To Keep Your Workplace Safe And Clean
Each business organization will have unique needs in order to prevent injuries and illnesses at work. These differences are mainly driven by various factors, such as the nature of your business, how you conduct your operations, and the health and safety protocols in place for accidents and health emergencies.
Here are some ways to keep your workplace safe and clean:
1. Set up a health and management system
One of the most essential steps in maintaining health and safety in a business setting is to have a safety program, where a business organization will focus on all the efforts to constantly improve the working environment and conditions in a specific area.
For small offices with very few employees, it may be just a list of rules on the topic. In bigger industries, it’s, typically, a notebook full of written guidelines. There’s no hard and fast rule on establishing a health and management system for your organization. The most important thing is to have one that works for your business and one that’s regularly reviewed and updated for improvements.
2. Hire Professional Cleaners
To ensure that the staff remains healthy and safe, businesses need to hire professional cleaners. Commercial cleaning involves more than just scrubbing floors and toilets. Professional cleaning service providers, such as SERVPRO of Lee & South Chatham Counties, provide various cleaning and restoration services, especially after natural disasters.
The thing about most health hazards in the office is that they remain invisible for the most part, except maybe for molds, bacteria, fungi, and other growth. The dust particles, mites, allergens, and other air contaminants trapped in the carpets, rugs, and ducts or ventilation system need to be tidied up regularly to prevent illnesses.
Unlike a home cleaning service, professional cleaners need to be maintained to conduct frequent cleaning of health hazards in and outside the office premises.
3. Get Your Safety Committee Moving
Creating a culture of workplace safety requires a commitment to constantly improve the system in place. To have an output reflective of the whole office, organize a health and safety committee comprised of representatives from all departments, if possible.
Here’s how you can go about this aspect:
- Create One
Once created, your safety committee should meet regularly to discuss anything about health and safety in the workplace, or updates in the policies or guidelines. Workplace inspections, injuries, and illness figures can also be brought up.
- Engage All Staff
Your committee is only half of the equation. Engage all of your employees by conducting office-wide meetings to discuss areas for improvement or get their feedback about the system in place. There may be issues and areas overlooked by the committee, or some additional subjects that may prove beneficial to the office staff.
Also engage your staff in a workplace wellness program to de-stress. By doing this and seeking for their feedback on health and safety policies, your employees will feel heard and valued, helping boost their morale and maintain sound physical and mental health. Choose the right wellness workshops which aim to benefit your employees’ overall wellbeing.
To show that your organization is serious, hold employees accountable for their actions. Impose sanctions on employees who show behaviors that run contrary to the policies and guidelines, and establish a clear reporting, handling, and investigation system for various incidents that include hazards, injuries, and illnesses.
You may also update descriptions of unfilled jobs by including health and safety system as one of their responsibilities. Or, acknowledge employees who contribute in promoting workplace safety and health.
4. Identify Hazards And Fix Them
First, you or your health and safety committee would have to be familiar with the OSHA regulations applicable to your workplace. In the same vein, identifying potential and existing hazards is the first step in managing them.
To do this, you may perform the following:
- Check workplace records of close calls, illnesses, injuries, and accidents, and compare these to those of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Analyze the trend by looking at the types of injuries, time of accident, location, types of equipment involved, and the safety measures followed or breached.
- Ask feedback from your staff.
- Review inspection reports from enforcement inspections, insurance surveys, or consultations, and make these as a reference when checking your workplace for current and potential health and safety issues.
Once you’ve identified the potential problems, you can manage them by doing the following:
- List all the current and potential hazards and prioritize the most critical component(s). Review the hazards that are most likely to cause serious injury or illness, and fix the problems that you can address properly, at the soonest.
- Plan out how you can fix the problems in the short-term and the long-term. Look at the best practices, and see whether you can implement the same strategies and fixes for your workplace.
- Fix the safety and health hazards. You may do this by using safety tools and equipment properly. Also, consider other measures, such as imposing rest breaks and improvements in workplace practices.
- Later, evaluate whether the changes have corrected the problem and did not create further problems along the way.
5. Equip And Train Your Staff
You may have a perfectly written workplace safety and health guidelines, but all these amount to nothing if your employees don’t have the resources to implement these policies.
- Make Sure Your Staff Has The Right Tools
Invest in safety tools and equipment, and make sure they’re regularly maintained to stay in tiptop shape and are fully functional. Personal protective equipment, such as safety boots and gloves, goggles, suit, and digital signages, as well as proper labelling of hazardous chemicals, are all needed to prevent injuries.
- Conduct Regular Employee Trainings On Health And Safety
Make sure all your staff are aware of your safety protocols. Also, teach them how to use the safety tools and equipment.
In the safety trainings of your staff, you may cover topics such as potential hazards in the workplace, health and safety protocols in place, specific trainings for workers exposed in risky jobs, re-training for long-term and newly-hired employees, and updated training on new means and methods, etc.
- Label Properly
It’s not enough to identify and fix current and potential hazards. Relay the warnings to the entire staff with the use of color codes, posters, labels, and other types of signages. Mark all exit points, and make sure that all the fire extinguishers are working.
Make your staff aware of any announcements related to workplace safety and health. Consider putting an updated board discussing safety tips and quotes.
6. Strengthen Health And Safety Rules
This part requires the participation of all stakeholders. Promoting a culture of health and safety requires long-term commitment to think about the welfare not only of one’s self, but more so of the rest of your colleagues. The management and executive levels should exert efforts to reach out and listen to the staff, and the staff should make sure they imbibe the culture even beyond the four corners of the office.
7. Constantly Improve On Your Processes
Even as you work on strengthening your culture of health and safety, always strive to improve your system and processes. Refer to OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Assessment Worksheet to know how you stack up against the standard policies. Constantly review your safety program and see whether you can look for other areas of improvement or things that can be updated.
Another way to show that the organization is serious in implementing the policies is to conduct a thorough investigation of any forms of workplace accidents, injuries, illnesses, and close calls as soon as possible. Even if a workplace incident doesn’t cause major issues, such as a serious injury, an incident investigation should be conducted to pinpoint the cause(s), thereby taking steps to ensure that it will not recur.
Document all your safety activities, trainings, and all other efforts. Also, maintain and update records of all first aid treatment, inspections, and incident investigations. All of the data and information can later serve as your baseline for potential upgrades and changes in how you approach health and safety in the workplace.
Conduct regular and frequent inspections of specific equipment and processes, and make sure that hazard correction systems are in place and functional. Review new and updated processes, materials, facilities, and equipment for potential hazards.
Why You Need To Prioritize Health And Safety In The Workplace
- Increases Employee Productivity. Employees working in a safe and clean working environment get sick less often and won’t be derailed by injuries. Very few employees give attention to keeping indoor air fresh and clean, not realizing it is one of the keys to maintaining the health of their employees. By keeping the workspaces fresh and free from pollution, employees will have more time to concentrate and finish their tasks.
- Reduces The Spread Of Diseases. Controlling the spread of disease has never been more important these days, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, authorities point at the workplace as one of the main venues for SARS-CoV2 virus infections, with most companies implementing work-from-home schemes. An effective enforcement of safety protocols, complemented by deep, professional disinfection is needed to keep your in-office workforce healthy and safe.
- Long-Term Cost Savings. A sick and injured staff doesn’t only decrease productivity, but it can also cost a business, literally. There are insurance coverages for regular staff. However, the problem lies in contractors who do the work on your behalf. If these on-call workers have no in-house insurance coverage, you may end up paying out-of-pocket costs for hospitalizations, prescription medicines, therapies, and death.
The same thing goes for personal injury lawsuits. If a client or an outsider who visits your premises is hurt or injured, this person can file a complaint against your business. And, you might end up closing down as these types of cases can cost you a great deal of money, especially if you don’t have and insurance coverage.
You may think that regular deep, professional cleaning and disinfection services are costly, but considering the long-term and potential cost of negative implications they help avoid, they’re worth it.
- Boosts Morale and Confidence. Your staff will be happier and more motivated to do their best when they feel safe and healthy in the workplace. They’ll feel valued by the company and will respond favorably by giving high-quality output. An employee who takes pride in working for a company that takes care of them will contribute in improving your business. A healthy and valued employee will help you build a more positive brand and scale your business.
- Professional Appearance. Imagine going inside an unkept and shoddy office with equally unhappy-looking staff. Now, here’s the question: would you honestly continue transacting with this business entity?
The overall look and ambience of your office impacts your customers’ reactions towards your business. A clean and safe office also makes your clients and visitors feel good, allowing them to respond positively to the goods and services being offered.
A safe workplace is necessary to increase productivity, boost employee confidence, and help scale your business. By prioritizing your employees’ safety and health, you’re investing in your business, too. A good health and safety system enhances staff productivity and overall reduces operational costs.