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How to Create a Safe Work Environment: The Basics Explained

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Whatever the size of your business, you need to take workplace safety seriously.

Why?

There are more than 2.8 million injuries in the workplace in the United States every year. There are a further 5,000 fatal injuries at work each year on average.

It’s your responsibility as an employer to create a safe work environment. If you’re not fully versed in workplace safety, our guide explains the basics. 

What Does a Safe Work Environment Look Like?

In short, a safe work environment will look different for each business. Going through the requirements of each different industry and niche would take years. Suffice to say, the requirements of a safe environment for a bank versus a warehouse would be very different.

All this said, all safe work environments usually share at least the following in common:

Specialized Uniforms

The need and type of uniform required will change from business to business. Those in particular industries will need headgear, high visibility jackets, safety goggles, and so on.

Whatever the uniform requirements for your industry, this should be enforced. You should reinforce this through signs and supervisors. 

Designated Emergency Exits

Though fire drill exercises often seem to achieve nothing but annoy employees, they’ll be thanking you should they ever need them.

Safe work environments have designated emergency exits that are always accessible. Not only this, but employees should be aware of where they are. This is most easily achieved by, you guessed it, fire drills.

Of course, there’s little point in having an emergency exit with no working smoke detectors. So you should ensure your smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler system are working with regular checks. 

Open Communication

Employees should feel confident and safe to bring up any safety concerns to superiors. Encouraging open and honest communication with employees is the best way to achieve this.

You should encourage feedback, both good and bad. Potential hazards should be highlighted and dealt with to instill confidence in employees that their safety is of the highest concern.

Accident-Proof the Building

So many accidents at work are avoidable with early intervention. For example, slippery steps outdoors could have been de-iced or steps could have had rubber padding added along the edges. 

The number of potential hazards will vary from workplace to workplace. You may benefit from ventilation upgrades or you could need to upgrade lifting devices. The best way to figure out what your work needs is with a safety assessment.

Promote Health Codes

Employers can promote health codes around the building with signs. This can be as simple as a reminder to wash your hands near the restroom. In particular industries like hospitality, these should be prominently displayed in areas where food is dealt with. 

Proper Coverage

Of course, even the safest of workplaces have accidents. This is why workers’ compensation was established to protect employees against injuries or fatalities at work.

Workplaces are legally required to have some kind of compensation coverage in place in all states excluding Texas. Find out more about different types of insurance.

Stay Safe

Creating a safe work environment is simple. Follow health codes and guidelines, educate employees and encourage open communication when it comes to safety. Make it a top priority for your business to keep your employees safe.

We have lots more business and industry advice on our blog that might help you.

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