Common sense isn’t always common, especially in the workplace. Though many safety rules and regulations seem fairly simple and straightforward, workplace safety as a whole is anything but.
If it were, there wouldn’t be a need for an EHS department, safety leaders, compliance checks, audits, inspections, and all the other moving parts of your strategy.
Rather, it takes a studious, ongoing effort to create and maintain a safe work environment. It’s not just about focusing on big-ticket topics like OSHA compliance, training requirements, and preventing slips, trips, and falls. The “little” details play just as important of a role in building your safety program.
Here’s why common sense will never be able to replace a strong safety program:
Perspectives and Experiences Can Vary
What someone deems safe is based largely on personal experiences and knowledge. Some people are natural risk takers, while others tend to err on the side of caution.
While some situations may warrant judgment calls, there must still be safety standards, common practices, and protocols that can help to guide decisions. Bringing safety into the workplace helps to set a standard of expectations and responsibilities to mitigate any risk associated with personal perspectives.
Safety Can Become Complacent
When safety isn’t presented as an important element of an organization, complacency tends to set in. Just like lack of incidents can lead companies to believe they’re operating safely, so can the lack of emphasis on safety.
To avoid a mindset of complacency, safety should be integrated into the daily culture without deviation. Safety leaders should take care to talk about the lesser known hazards, regulations, and requirements in addition to simple things that are easily neglected.
Topics like self care, driving safety, how to prevent incidents at home, and how to prepare for storms and severe weather can help to bring safety into focus. As employees start approaching everything they do with safety in mind, your company’s safety culture gets a boost.
Ongoing Efforts Keep Safety Top of Mind
Organizations change daily, monthly, and yearly. As employees leave the company and new ones enter, the effectiveness of previous safety efforts can dwindle. It’s up to company leaders and EHS teams to continue the conversation over time to maintain its effectiveness.
Even topics that have been covered at length can still prove beneficial. Newcomers may learn something they didn’t know before. Veteran employees get the reminders they need to strengthen their knowledge on a subject. It’s a win/win for everyone, no matter how repetitive it seems.
Knowing when to cover old topics depends on your organization itself. Companies with a high turnover will have more work to do when building and maintaining a safety culture than stabler workforces.
Safety Only Works if Everyone Is Involved
While some may approach safety with common sense, that doesn’t mean everyone will. Workplace safety can only be achieved when everyone participates.
Bringing safety topics into the workplace gives everyone an equal chance to be exposed to them and learn from them. In most cases, they don’t have to learn through experience to know how to perform tasks safely. They have the benefit of learning from others’ mistakes, official studies, and new regulations.
Getting everyone on the same page about safety is the only way to mitigate your risk of incident and promote a healthier workplace for all.
Workplace Safety Matters!
Workplace safety is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make in your employees and company. Good safety is key in remaining profitable, but it’s also proof you care about your employees’ well being.
If you need inspiration for your workplace safety program, head over to the EHS Insight blog for tons of insights, tips, and talking points.