When you're implementing your safety program, chances are you focus on meeting OSHA required training guidelines and keeping your company in compliance. Naturally, you highlight the big-ticket risks, too—hand safety, slips and falls and the like. You rely on your employees to use common sense on the work floor so you can focus on the intricacies of safety. Unfortunately, this might be leaving holes in your safety program, because common sense just isn't as common as we expect. Here are some supposedly common-sense habits employees often ignore, plus ways to incorporate workplace safety tips into your rotation of topics, even if they seem obvious to you.
Take Care of Yourself
It seems logical that, in general, workplace safety tips wouldn't have to include telling people to go to bed on time, stay sober, or other things our parents taught us. Yet, as Psychology Today notes, such common sense is neither. Not to stereotype too much, but sometimes younger workers have an especially difficult time regulating their habits as opposed to socializing and otherwise enjoying their time off the clock. We all want to have fun, but we also have to worry about the dangers that stem from being overly tired, hung over, or impaired from lack of judgment.
Keep Your House Clean
Housekeeping on the job is essential to safety. It's also a harder habit to instill than we think. From putting tools and materials away properly to storing chemicals out of harm's way, maintaining a tidy workspace can feel like a hassle after a long shift on the job. This leaves a mess—and dangers—not just for the employee, but for whomever follows on the next shift.
Dress for Success—and Safety
With all the emphasis on proper gloves, eyewear, and other critical safety equipment, employees don't always remember to wear the right clothing to protect them at work. This applies to everyone, not just staff on the factory floor. IT experts and maintenance teams, for example, need to skip ties, loose pants, and anything else that can get stuck in machinery and printers. Striking a balance between form and function is a valuable practice at all levels of the company.
With trends shifting for men and women, even hair can be a safety concern. Long beards can get trapped in moving parts, and long bangs can obscure a worker's view of their tasks or the environment around them. We're not suggesting you should refuse to allow long hair on the job—that sort of policy can set your company up for lawsuits—but consider how to minimize the risks involved with grooming habits.
Don't Track Your Mess All Over the Place
In most factory environments, you expect a bit of a mess in order to get the job done. What you don't expect is for your employees to then walk all over the factory without wiping their hands and feet. Tracking oil, grease, and dust all introduce unnecessary falling hazards to your work environment.
Integrating General Workplace Safety Tips Into Your Program
With the myriad expectations you already face as a safety manager, coaching employees about such basics may feel a little daunting. Try this step-by-step approach to augment your current strategy.
If you haven't already, start emphasizing personal responsibility at work. Everyone has a part to play in keeping their coworkers (and themselves) safe. Getting employees to take the basics seriously provides you a firm foundation on which to build your safety messages.
Then, look at how to use your current tactics to integrate subtle reminders about everyday safety. Meet regularly with supervisors about the real-life unsafe habits their employees exhibit, and develop toolbox talks that put a positive spin on their concerns. Get as close to the issue as you can without embarrassing any one staff member in front of peers.
Next, tap your own creativity to address personal and industrial workplace safety tips alongside each other without fatiguing your employees. One way to address common-sense topics is to use video to show employees how others feel about safety training. For example, here's one that targets younger workers and walks through concerns at a job without singling out your actual employees.
If your employees respond better to a more brief message, daily workplace safety tips may be easier to retain than meetings or videos. A custom Workplace Safety Tip of the Day calendar is an easy way to post a year's worth of information at once and still vary the information you provide. Give them as company gifts, or post one or two in a public space like a break room or mail room. Plenty of retailers offer easy design options so you can build your own daily structure from scratch. Likewise, a daily tweet or text reaches employees electronically in a format you can automate, which frees you up to address other issues.
Instilling common-sense workplace safety tips for employees is an integral part of your overall approach to protecting your staff and your company. Most of all, have patience as employees break old habits and develop new ones. Their success is worth the effort.