By Riley Quinn Doherty
The National Safety Council reports that 104 million production days are lost due to work related injuries. The top causes of workplace injuries are not as outlandish as you might think – and can happen to anyone. They include overexertion, contact with objects and equipment and slips, trips, and falls.
The workplace injury stats are equal parts alarming and completely preventable.
The facilities team is the front line for inspecting and fixing building issues and keeping the entire company safe. However it is also equally as important to put the procedures in place to keep the team itself safe. Protection needs to be a top priority at all times.
Employees feel better about their jobs when they feel safe. Therefore, your efforts to keep them safe can pay off via increased productivity and good morale. I have outlined some guidance on key workplace safety habits for facilities workers.
Ask The Right Equipment Questions
A price tag should not be the way you decide on a product’s overall value. The cheapest safety product may actually be the most expensive in the long run, if your staff doesn’t use it or wear it, or if it needs to be replaced or fixed often.
Ask smart questions of your salespeople such as:
- What products are the most likely to have good compliance with my team?
- Have there been any complaints with the product you are considering?
The most important quality when choosing safety equipment is if your employees want to actually use and wear it. If they don’t like the way it fits or feels, employees will be less likely to use the equipment and therefore will be more likely to put themselves in danger. To improve compliance, invite employees to test out the products before making these important purchasing decisions.
Talk The Talk
Let’s face it, people typically believe that they know how to stay safe, and once they understand the procedures in place, they will start to let their guard down and go through the motions. This is often when injuries happen.
Safe habits can slip, so training sessions and talks should occur individually when people start, and team-wide throughout the year – such as at the start of each season. If any procedures change, new equipment is introduced, or if an injury occurs, a safety training should be scheduled for the entire team immediately.
There are a variety of resources available to help you build your training sessions, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Additionally, your safety equipment vendor may also be able to connect you with training through the manufacturer of the supplies you purchase. If your salesperson does not offer to make this introduction, ask for it.
Stay On Top Of Your Team
Again, employees that have been working at the same facility for some time may feel more comfortable on the job and might relax their commitment to safety equipment and procedures. Even the best trained and equipped team needs to be monitored to ensure that workers are wearing what they should be.
In addition to monitoring safety equipment usage, facilities managers and employees need to stay apprised of the latest safety requirements. An easy way to do so is by subscribing to OSHA updates based on your industry.
Show Off Your Safety Record
Like the employee of the month plaques, people want to see success being recognized. Safety success is no exception, and facilities managers should be highlighting for the building how many days it has been since a workplace incident. This could be as simple as a sign on the facilities manager’s office or a plaque prominently displayed upon entering the workplace. The higher that number goes, the more motivated your team will be to maintain a high safety standard.
Maintaining employee safety might seem like an overwhelming job, but as you can see there are simple steps that facilities managers can take to prevent all types of workplace injuries. All you have to do is ask the right questions, provide the right tools, and always stay vigilant.
Riley Quinn Doherty is Area Vice President at Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.