Operating a business is no easy proposition. Even the most basic business run out of your house can be a major undertaking. Things get really challenging when you take it outside of the home because now you are dealing with additional space, a growing workforce, etc. Moreover, everything you do has to be evaluated in terms of safety.
If you own a business, does it operate with a safety-first mindset? Do not be too quick to answer. Implementing a few safety protocols here and there doesn’t necessarily translate to making safety a top priority. A mindset that considers safety before everything else is a mindset that is not satisfied with anything less than the safest possible environment for employees and visitors alike.
Below are several things that contribute to workplace safety. As you read about each one, carefully consider how well your company is doing. If your organisation currently has a safety-first mindset, it should shine through in everything you do.
Avoiding Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries are what many people think of when the topic of workplace safety comes up. In a manufacturing environment for example, heavy machinery and workplace injuries seem to go hand-in-hand. Employees can hurt themselves with everything from packing equipment to forklifts. Identifying potential hazards is the first step in reducing injuries.
In the UK, employers are required to regularly perform workplace risk assessments. The assessments serve the purpose of identifying risks, who is most affected by them, and how they can be reduced. In the US, risk assessments are only mandatory for certain industries. Most employers do not have to carry them out.
Risk assessments are a great idea even when the law doesn’t require them. After all, how can a company reduce the threat of workplace injuries if it doesn’t know the risks it faces?
Exposure to Coronavirus
Up until early 2020, most employers didn’t give a second thought to contagious diseases. All that changed when coronavirus began its invasive trek around the world. Coronavirus now impacts nearly everything – including workplace safety.
Employers now have to be cognisant of the possibility of spreading the virus in the workplace. They have to pay attention to how employees interact with each other and any guests on the property. They have to stay on top of everything from mask-wearing to regular hand washing. They must also make sure employees are staying on top of things as well.
Diligence and caution are said to be the keys to containing coronavirus. While it is all still new to some degree, coronavirus prevention is something we are learning about as we go. It seems nearly impossible to have a safety-first mindset at work and still ignore coronavirus and its many implications.
Note that in the UK, coronavirus must be considered when doing routine risk assessments. Any risk of virus transition must be accounted for by some means of protecting those most vulnerable.
Fire Safety in Business Environments
The safety-first mindset goes beyond personal injury and illness to consider things that might seem less likely. Paying attention to fire safety is a good example. Though businesses do not burn down as often as they did in the past, fire is always a risk. Some industries face a higher risk due to their activities.
How do companies address fire safety? By two means: prevention and mitigation. Prevention strategies include identifying fire risks and doing whatever possible to manage them. These include things like properly handling flammable materials and being careful when using tools that produce sparks and flame.
Mitigation strategies are all about addressing fires when they do occur. This is where things like fire extinguishers and integrated fire suppression systems become important. Yet this is an area that requires extensive knowledge.
There are different classes of fires identified by their fuel sources. Moreover, classifications vary by jurisdiction. If you were to compare US and the UK fire extinguishers here for example, you would see that the two jurisdictions classify fires slightly differently. The point here is that fire safety is quite a bit more complex than most other workplace safety issues.
Mitigation is something often best left to professionals. They are uniquely qualified to determine the most appropriate fire suppression system for any given building. They are even able to identify cases in which integrated fire suppression and fire extinguishers should be used in the same space.
Safety Training and Policies
Just from the three examples cited in this post, it is easy to see just how in-depth a safety-first mindset truly is. There are so many potential safety risks to consider that it’s almost unquantifiable. Therefore, creating a safe workplace requires a concerted effort from everyone involved. That effort starts with safety training and company policies.
Training can be found in many forms. For example, local fire departments and charitable organisations offer first aid training courses. A good course can mean the difference between responding to an emergency with proper first aid and risking serious consequences by not rendering immediate medical care.
For more complex issues, training is offered both online and in classroom settings by professional training organisations. Insurance companies frequently offer training sessions as well. Needless to say, there are enough training opportunities to satisfy any company’s needs.
As for official policies, these set the standard for safety in any workplace. A company’s policies determine not only the safety mindset, but also how committed the company is to that mindset.
Assessing Your Company’s Safety
Does your company operate on a safety-first mindset? If so, it will be demonstrated in your daily operations. If not, your daily operations will reflect the lack thereof. Safety is ultimately up to you and those you depend on to operate your business.
In closing, remember that your commitment to safety could determine the long-term future of your business. It only takes one accident or injury to cause big trouble from which a company might never recover. It is far better to invest in safety now than try to deal with the aftermath later.