How to Improve the Health and Safety of Your Workplace
October 14 2022 - Every workplace should be safe to work in. This means it needs to be physically, mentally, and emotionally safe. While you do not need to coddle your employees, you do need to create a framework they can trust. If you arenít helping by establishing a safe environment, you are failing as a business owner and leader. Some of the ways you can improve the health and safety of your workplace are also going to be legally required.
1. Start with an Audit
The first thing to do when it comes to improving the safety of your workplace is to audit and figure out what issues you currently have. Itís best to have an expert third-party conduct the health and safety audit on your behalf, as theyíll know better what to look for, and how to fix the issues they see. You may be surprised at how many regulations there are, especially if you work with heavy machinery. For instance, you may not know that certain machines need to be far away from others, or how much you need to increase your ventilation simply by using another product. Thatís why it is easier to bring in an expert and make improvements based on their suggestions.
2. Upgrade Your Workplace
Work to improve any and all issues outlined in the audit and consider asking for additional recommendations that donít just meet base standards. You may want to take a pre-emptive step, for example, and make the space more accessible for people with disabilities. If you bring in clients, this is going to be imperative. You wonít have time to work out what a client needs and make all the changes every time. Getting a ramp if your building only has stairs outside, creating a wide enough walkway to your office for wheelchair users, and even having the right chairs available can all do wonders for your clients.
As a bonus, it will make you better prepared to hire someone with a disability. As disabilities can be very different from one to another, however, you will always want to sit down with a new hire to work out what they need and what you can do (and how fast).
3. Create Health and Safety Policies
Next, youíll want to create effective policies. The policies you create will depend entirely on your work environment. If your team works with heavy machinery or specialised tools, for example, then youíll need a code of conduct ready that outlines how employees are to use, store, and maintain said items.
Other policies that will impact health and safety are harassment policies, and even grievance policies. Create go-to steps that employees (and yourself) can take if there is an issue.
These policies need to be made in line with government rule and regulation, to ensure that you are operating correctly. If you are worried about that, bring in experts to help create new, personalised policies that fit your business. Have every employee read through these rules and sign to state they acknowledge them and accept them.
4. Have an HR Department
HR does more than just help with hiring and onboarding. They also help manage grievances and give employees somewhere to go when there is an issue. If you want to offer them the best services even on a budget, itís best to outsource your HR needs. Going to a third-party is more comfortable for employees, particularly if their grievance involves someone higher up than they are in the company structure.
5. Work with Your Employees
You wonít get it all right. If you want to make your workplace healthier, happier, and safer, youíll want to work with your employees so that you know what is going on when you arenít around. Perhaps there was a loophole in your harassment policy you overlooked and will later need an update. Perhaps thereís a safety issue that you wouldnít know about unless you used that equipment yourself every day.
There is a lot that you donít need to be aware of, but you do need to be ready to hear about. Have an open policy and even an anonymous report system so that employees can comfortably relay information and concerns that they have. Investigate the issues presented to you and make changes as necessary.
6. Train Your Employees
From cultural sensitivity to health and safety, there is a lot that you can train your employees to make your workplace better for all. If you operate a workshop, for example, having at least one or two team members per shift trained in first aid and CPR can make a huge difference.