Employers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace. They set the protocols and make sure the workplace is in compliance with standards.
However, regardless of how many risks and hazards employers minimize, accidents will continue to happen if workers don’t take responsibility for their actions.
Safety is a team effort. One employee acting irresponsibly can not only hurt themself, but other employees as well. Consider that employee collisions are one of the top causes of injury in the workplace: one person running into another or an employee running into an object. This is largely a result of someone being distracted or just not paying attention.
Another common cause of workplace accidents is a trip and fall. Two primary reasons this happens are, again, someone not paying attention, or poor housekeeping: people tripping over objects that haven’t been put in their proper place.
These and most all other common causes of injuries at work are readily avoided simply by workers being more mindful and diligent about keeping the workplace safe.
Workers must understand their role in creating a safe and healthy working environment and always take that responsibility seriously. Safety is always the top priority.
What Is Employee Safety?
Employees have a legal right to be safe at work. An employer must ensure that the workplace is free from as many hazards as possible. Some hazards cannot be completely eliminated, in which case every precaution should be taken to reduce the chances of injury.
Employee safety involves the following:
- Adequate and ongoing safety training
- Machinery that is well maintained and has adequate protective guards
- Being provided with the required safety gear
- Protection from toxic chemicals
- The ability to report any injury
Your Employees' Role in Health and Safety in the Workplace
Although employers have a legal responsibility to ensure worker safety, as noted, responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace also fall on the employees.
Under OSHA regulations, employees are required to comply with the standards, rules, and regulations put in place by the employer. Employees are required to use safety equipment, PPE, and other safety devices made available by the employer that are necessary for their protection.
Additional employee responsibilities are outlined in the following video:
It is critical that all workers feel empowered to carry out their role in the health and safety regime. This includes not only following protocols themselves, but encouraging others to do the same and having a trusted superior who will listen to suggestions or complaints.
How to Motivate Employees to Create a Safety Culture
Provide Health and Safety Training for All Staff
Just as business owners and CEOs are aware of their obligations toward their employees, workers must be aware of their own responsibilities when it comes to ensuring safety at work. Teaching employees effective personal strategies they can implement themselves is one effective way of motivating staff. Emphasize that employee safety is a priority by providing new trainees with health and safety training in their first week of work.
Promote Engagement and Participation from Workers
Encouraging employee engagement and participation are key aspects in promoting and growing a positive safety culture in your workplace. A healthier and safer workplace increases employee job satisfaction, productivity, and business performance.
Involve your employees in shaping a safer, risk-free working environment. Encourage them to suggest practical solutions to maximize safety. Workers are on the floor day in, day out, making them ideally positioned to notice hazards.
Employee-suggested solutions are often straightforward, effective, cost-efficient, and easy for employers to implement. Urge workers to get involved and speak up about workplace safety issues. Ask that they tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Emphasize that, by reporting hazards, employees are making their workplace safer for themselves and their workmates.
Designate Health and Safety Representatives
CEOs and business owners are not always present in the workplace, so don't know firsthand about new hazards that may arise. Information on safety issues needs to be passed to those in charge, which, for various reasons, some workers are reluctant to do.
By designating a health and safety representative, employees can confidently and discreetly (and, if necessary, anonymously) discuss their concerns with this person. The representative, who acts as a trusted intermediary between CEO or owner and employee, can relay these matters to the employer at regular meetings to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace is a top priority at all times.