Workplace safety best practices are often intangible characteristics that employees take on as their own, so it makes sense that there are a few misconceptions floating around.
When there's not an exact science as to how to keep employees safe, there's bound to be confusion about what's true and what isn't. We're here to clear a few things up for you.
Myth: Workplace safety isn't worth the time
Let's start with the most painful myth—both because it couldn't be further from the truth, and it puts employees in danger when the safety management team believes it. When incidents occur on the job they lead to injuries that adversely affect the company:
- Stoppage reduces productivity
- An injured employee often incurs workers' compensation costs
- Paperwork needs to be filed for insurance claims, regulatory bodies and internal company audits
- Workers lose faith in managers' ability to keep them safe
Fact: Organizations that take the time to implement industry best practices and an effective health and safety management system reduce injury and illness costs by 30 percent on average, improve employee morale and boost productivity, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Myth: Slips, trips and falls can't be stopped
Accidents happen, but incidents can be prevented. These types of injuries have a never-ending list of causes like chemical spills, equipment failure or simple carelessness. But to say they're unavoidable just isn't true.
Often, a chaotic floor plan is the thing to blame. Make sure work areas are clearly demarcated—this safeguards against employees wandering over to a dangerous area without realizing they're in the way of co-workers or in the middle of a job until it's too late.
Fact: By placing greater importance on risk assessment, checking equipment for failures and allowing for near-miss incident reports to be submitted, safety managers can actively work to prevent slip, trip and fall situations. This is an injury that keeps people out of work for a median of 12 days, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Myth: There's no perfectly safe workplace
Asserting that incidents will always occur on the job is no longer acceptable to employees, customers and investors. Safety management teams have to learn from past experiences and implement effective controls to prevent incidents. An addition to building a strong safety culture—from the top-down—is to employ safety management software that allows for digital injury reporting, tracking and analysis. This will enable the team to get actionable insights from raw data to find underlying dangers in standard operations.
Identifying potential threats based on past mishaps is the name of the game, according to Environmental Health and Safety Today. Continued improvement in mitigating risk is what will eventually rid the workplace of injuries.
Fact: Use a two-pronged approach: First, continuously check the health of the equipment. Second, implement a behavior-based safety strategy that seeks to rectify poor decision-making habits held by employees in an effort to promote industry best practices.
Myth: It's impossible to stay up to date with regulatory changes
With so much going on during the average work day, it can certainly be tough to keep up with compliance regulations. Organizations that deploy laborers in various industries spanning multiple regulatory bodies have the most strenuous task at hand, but it's not out of the question.
"Lean on technology to keep up to speed."
Many health and safety management platforms take variables out of the equation by providing up-to-the-minute updates about potential changes, new best practices and other important information that can help your business stay on top of even the most challenging legislation.
Fact: Don't make it more difficult than it needs to be—work with a third-party devoted to keeping your employees safe to receive regular updates about legal developments in your particular industry.
Myth: Employees don't want or need training
Everyone is busy, but there's always time for education on dependable workplace habits. The truth is, just 1 in every 5 new employees receives safety training after joining a company, according to Safety and Health Magazine. The result? Workers with less than one year of experience under their belt are three times more likely to be injured on the job than their seasoned counterparts.
If your company doesn't provide training, it's creating a cycle. An employee is injured and a new person comes in, only to be the victim of an incident once again because he or she didn't receive proper guidance. Safety education is essential in keeping workers at all levels of the business harm-free, and it reinforces the idea that your organization praises workplace health and wellness above all else.
Fact: Training can't be abandoned because no one on staff is qualified to teach. Utilize safety management software that provides modern materials that can be used to run classes, teach best industry practices and inform employees about regulatory changes.