Anyone working for you is inherently dependent on you to maintain safe, workable conditions and safeguard against injury as best you can. Business owners and managers are therefore bestowed an ever-important task in constantly evaluating and improving the safety and safety culture of their work floors. This, combined with the exorbitant costs of work related injury litigation and investigative follow up, should place safety squarely and constantly in your cross-hairs. So, how do you shine your work floor into a diamond of safety and worker health? Here are a few suggestions for a safer work floor:
Train, Train, and then Train Some More.
Training is the root of awareness and safety in any work place. All of the protocols, procedures, and organization in the world won’t help you if your employees don’t know what to do with it, and that’s why we’re leading off with this ever-important aspect of workplace safety. In fact, training is so important that we’re going to dive into it a little deeper than the other topics.
What to Train On: Any aspect of an employee’s job should have associated training administered. From the obvious things, like driving vehicles and operating heavy machinery, to the more subtle, such as when to wear gloves, glasses, or keep safety notes. Train employees on how to lift and move while carrying items, how to clean a workspace after use, how to wash their hands before and after taking meal breaks; don’t leave anything out.
Training Shows Intent: One of the most underrated reasons that we train employees is that it conveys a certain attitude on the behalf of management. Think about it this way: If someone just tosses a pair of gloves at you on your first day and says, “wear these,” and then proceeds to only engage in instructional conversation when you ask or run into specific problems, how much do you perceive they care about your precision, safety, and performance? Probably not much. Most workers would be much more assured if their employees made a point to train and prepare them for all aspects of their job before they’re thrown onto the work floor. While there is obviously something to be said for self-starters and the self-motivated employee, workers take their cues from the higher ups, and safety compliance rates soar when those in charge are perceived as being just as concerned with safety as they’re asking their workers to be.
Training Mitigates Liability: While it’s a bit cold-hearted, training, like most any business practice, can be quantified monetarily. Training employees properly is an effective way of showing that you’ve covered your bases and been proactive about maintaining the condition your workers arrive and leave in each day. For this reason, you should always (read: always) keep written records of all of your training sessions AND require workers to sign a statement upon completion of their job training. Better yet, have them take a post-session evaluation and sign the results.
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It’s All in the Floor… Literally.
The most common injuries in most workplaces come from slips and falls, so it’s a good idea that you take these suggestions to heart on how you can make the floor itself safer.
Floor Signs: Floor signs (such as these) are a great way to enhance safety and serve a number of purposes. You can use them to signal workers as to when they have to wear certain gear, for example reminding them that hard hats are required beyond a certain point. Some floor signs can also be placed on other places, such as table and work counter surfaces to remind people to wear gloves or safety glasses.
Floor Marker Tape: Floor tape is a versatile tool that can be manipulated exactly to your needs. Creating safe walking lanes, indicating flow direction, and designating areas for certain materials and processes. Floor tape can also be colored (some examples found here) to help create an easy visual indicator for different areas of the work floor. If you have carts, bins, or work stations that move a lot, floor tape can be a great way to make sure these items are organized and returned to their places after each shift or day.
The footwear employees choose to wear varies wildly with personal preference, and by extension in how much grip or slip resistance they provide. Consider requiring certain footwear from all employees; providing slip resistant shoes has been shown to reduce slips and falls, which, to reiterate, account for a large percentage of on the job injuries.
External Work Floor Audits
Work floor auditing is becoming increasingly common, and there are even external, certified agencies that will provide them for you. A work floor audit is more than just walking around and placing down safety labels and grip mats; a proper audit assesses all kinds of risk and then makes recommendations on how one can correct any shortcomings. I suggest hiring an outside group simply because they are more objective and, as long as they’re reputable, more effective in spotting subtle things that could create big safety problems down the road for your work force.
Safety is a Priority
These are just a few of the things you can do to improve safety. More important than any single action, however, is that safety remains a priority and you treat it as such with continual improvement. Not only will your workers thank you, but you’ll have peace of mind as well.
Floor Tape vs Floor Paint Infographic