Regardless of the industry or environment in which you work, safety must always be the top priority. To spread the word about workplace policies and safety procedures, proper communication is key. That means verbal reminders, smart signage, and an open-door policy that allows the chance for feedback and tells your staff that you care about them as people.
If your organization has had an incident or management has noticed that some employees are a bit lax about workplace safety, then it may be a good time to consider your communication techniques in this regard. It is worth spending some time improving how you speak with your teams so your company can prevent employee injuries and potential lawsuits. Here are some ideas to take into consideration.
For your teams to take safety communication seriously, they need to see that this isn't just management trying to protect their own investment, but that it is an attempt to value the safety of everyone in the office. The best way to do this is for management to make it known that they have an open-door policy to all employees should they see a safety risk on the job or they are injured for any reason. When an employee comes in, the manager must show that they are listening by letting the employee speak, notating the conversation, and then taking action so the issue can be properly resolved.
It is important to remember that safety is not only about avoiding falling objects or breathing toxic chemicals, but it is also about how we interact with one another. If an employee feels targeted or mocked while they are at work, it could affect their mental health and lead to serious issues. Even the smallest comment or microaggression could be hurtful to the recipient. Microinsults could involve making a general comment about a race of people or even telling someone that they are the exception to a certain stereotype. If employees hear this language, they should feel comfortable reporting it, even if the comment wasn't directed at them.
Management must also remember that all employees are not as forward and prone to voicing their opinions, but their word is just as important. To capture their thoughts, consider putting out anonymous safety surveys every couple of weeks that ask for feedback or create a specific email address for safety concerns, as it can sometimes be easier to write your feelings than to speak them verbally.
It is necessary to be in constant communication with your teams about new and existing threats so the information isn't easily forgotten. One way to do this is to have safety meetings daily or weekly where management talks about recent issues, new equipment, certifications, and more. At the end of each meeting, there should be time for questions so your workforce has another chance to voice their concerns.
Regular meetings and training sessions are essential for keeping your staff abreast of any new safety concerns. Remember that it is not only physical threats that must be prevented. In any work environment that involves computers, current cybersecurity threats such as phishing scams, malware, and computer hacking should also be discussed, along with solutions to prevent them from becoming a reality. That means talking about proper passwords and reporting any suspicious websites.
Save some time during your meetings to talk about safety guidelines to follow in the case of a fire or natural disaster that impacts the office. Discussions should include how to use applicable safety equipment, where the emergency exits are located and the best path to find them, and where everyone should meet outside after they evacuate.
It is a smart idea to create a schedule of safety topics that need to be covered throughout the year so no pressing issue is left to the wayside.
While verbal communication is a must, non-verbal messaging is just as important, especially when it comes to safety signage. Every hazard in the workplace must be clearly labelled, from dangerous chemicals to the areas that are off-limits to unauthorized personnel. Whenever there is a spill, signage should be placed and clean-up crews must be dispatched. Slip and fall incidents continue to be one of the most common issues and only proper communication can reduce the risks.
When it comes to signage, it is important to remember that one language does not fit all. Our country is a melting pot of cultures and so is our workforce, so dangers should be posted in all applicable languages so everyone has a chance to stay safe. All signs should be readable to every employee, so large lettering, bright colouring, and Braille options are a must so signs are clearly seen and understood.
Although the current vaccines appear to be making an impact, a few words must be said as to safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Space out your staff as far as possible, keep a clean and sanitized environment, and require gloves and masks if necessary. If you do have a mask policy, post signage around the office that reminds everyone how to wear them so they cannot give the excuse that they forgot.
No matter what your company produces or where it takes place, safety is always essential. Proper communication can keep everyone on their toes, and by following the guidelines, everyone can go home each night in the same condition they arrived.