3 ideas to improve safety in the workplace

Stuck on next steps to improve safety in the workplace? These seemingly simple best practices can help give your efforts a boost.

Improving safety in the workplace is no easy task. We can all agree that it’s important, but not all countries (or corporate teams) agree on how to ensure it. And even if on paper you’re in line with the long list of different regulations, successful safety still depends on often unpredictable behavior. So, outside of meeting obligations – what can an EHS professional do? Below are 3 ways to uncover blind spots and remove blockers to help you better your safety program.

1. Look into what’s not in the reports: Use employee feedback to improve safety in the workplace

If you need to improve safety in the workplace, then it’s likely that your employees know it – and why. Because they’re the ones doing the daily tasks that put them at risk, they’ll also have the most insight into what processes or procedures would make their jobs safer. Start by sending a survey to all employees, asking them for their honest impressions of company safety. Make sure to include questions that encourage employees to give background on their answers and to provide their own suggestions for improvement.

Next, build on that benchmark by setting up employee safety committees to provide further feedback. Because safety best practices at warehouses will differ from offices, which will differ from manufacturing plants, you’ll have optimal results if you set up a committee at each. Leverage the feedback by looking for trends across the facilities and their different departments – or any stand-out red flags that could be impacting your safety record.

2. Maximize your money for improving safety at work: Build a case for a bigger budget

“More money, please.” It might be easy to say, but it’s much more difficult to get a yes – even if you ask politely. Few teams (if any) have the budget they’d like. However, oftentimes, the blocker is not having asked the right way. When facing a limited budget, the only next step after making the most of the money you have is making a case for more.

Requesting a bigger budget requires extensive evaluation. You’ll need to confirm and show that you’ve explored all opportunities for using the existing sum. Challenge yourself to find different ways to leverage the money, looking at what could most (or most easily) improve safety in your workplace and if it could fit in your current budget. Explore opportunities to hire safety specialists or invest in new machinery or personal protective equipment (PPE). Research compliance management tools or regulatory intelligence support that might increase awareness.

Once you’ve assessed all that you could do now, paint a picture of what could help in the future. Show corporate that your demand is a necessity – and not just a nice-to-have. Build your case based on reasons why it’s important to invest in an EHS program – looking beyond safety and into how better safety management can improve your business. Underline for the decision-makers how a poor safety record can put off high-quality employees and investors, who take note when an injury or illness makes the news.

3. Let your peers steer you: Leverage learnings from other safety professionals

The good news about a safety professional’s heavy responsibility (other than the immense pride you can take in helping to protect human life) is that you’re not in it alone. From sharing best practices to discovering strategies and gaining support, roles in EHS management can benefit from networking with peers.

One easy, and at-your-fingertips, way to get tips on improving safety in the workplace is to participate in social media groups dedicated to operations and facility safety. For more one-to-one exchanges, consider joining a professional association. Some examples include:

  • US: the National Safety Council in the US and the American Society of Safety Professionals
  • EU: the European Network of Health and the Safety Professional Organisations
  • China: the China Association of Work Safety and the China Occupational Safety and Health Association
  • India: the Institute of Industrial Safety Professional of India, National Safety Council, and the Indian Association of Occupational Health

You can also gain insight from other EHS professionals at safety conferences (online or, eventually, in person) for the latest trends and innovations in keeping workers safe. Often, these events include blocks of time in the agenda for networking.

Break through your impasse to improve safety in the workplace

With the consequences of poor safety management directly impacting employee well-being and the long-term viability of your company (and that responsibility resting firmly on your shoulders), as an EHS professional you need to keep ahead of what can’t always be kept in control. More than thinking outside-of-the-box, to improve safety in the workplace, consider efforts beyond obligations. Listen to the people in your business, advocate for more resources, and bring in outside perspectives to uncover new opportunities for optimal employee protection.

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