Your employees are an integral part of any businesses success, no matter the sector they work in. Planning with health and safety in mind for small business owners can be a confusing process. To make it simpler, we’ve broken down some steps to help small business owners promote a safe working culture in the workplaces.
Define safety and implement metrics
Every person in the workplace has a role to play in health and safety at work. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires that everyone on site is given the highest level of protection from risk to ensure everyone gets home safely. Vehicles are also considered a workplace, so they must be treated with the same care as you would with an office, depot or warehouse.
It is important that everyone is on the same page as to what safety means. Work with employees to understand what areas affect them: Driving? Using tools? Long hours?
Implementing metrics helps you stay accountable to reducing harm. Metrics such as reducing slips and falls by 50 per cent over 12 months or reducing speeding infringements by 60 per cent over 12 months can help ensure that employees are more likely to take safety seriously and feel like they are working towards an achievable goal.
Use tools to identity hazards and measure performance
There are a variety of tools that small businesses can use to identify, track and measure health and safety goals.
A low-cost method for some workplaces is to have a whiteboard that displays hazards and incidents that have occurred. The whiteboard should be displayed in a communal area such as the lunch room so everyone can have access to it. Hazards that could be written include wet floors, frayed electrical cords, and exposure to chemicals – anything from the smallest paper cut to a serious injury should be recorded.
Many industry sectors have businesses where employees are constantly on the road, from couriers and logging to trades services, healthcare and construction. This makes driver safety an integral part of overall workplace health and safety plan. GPS fleet tracking software helps employees to monitor driver behaviour and can show employees what their unsafe driving habits are, so they can correct them. Unsafe driving behaviours include speeding, harsh braking, and rough cornering. These habits can all lead to road collisions or cause work vehicles to deteriorate faster.
Schedule safety education sessions and refresher meetings
The purpose of a safety education session is not disciplinary, rather educational. It is important not to single out any employee but talk to the collective about issues that affect them all. These education sessions should be used to collaborate on health and safety plans to promote a good safety culture and employee buy-in. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment says robust health and safety plans are not made by individuals but by a collective.
When constructing the health and safety plan it is also important to outline how to safely remove people who are differently abled from the worksite in case of an emergency. Further to this, ensure you have all accessible and direct path to a safe meeting point somewhere outside of the workplace. Emergency types to plan for include fire, on-site incidents, electrical, chemical and more. Considering that the worst sectors for workplace deaths are agriculture, construction, forestry and transport and logistics, it’s become more and more common for business to be aware of the risks involved in the business, risks to each person’s role in the workplace and come up with actions to reduce or mitigate those risks.
Health and safety education sessions and planning should take place at least every three months and new employees should all be briefed with the latest information. Surprise drills can also be performed for all staff to ensure that policies can be easily put into practice in case of emergency.
Implement safety checklists
These checklists are for individual employees to minimise risks of injury. Employees should go through these checklists at the beginning and end of a shift. Checklists may differ for organisation to organisation or even for different departments in the same business. Checklists are dependent on the safety risks that the individual is trying to minimise. Things to include on the checklist could be:
Declutter fire exits and make them more noticeable
Unplug and coil extension cords when not in use
Keep work areas clean and tidy
Notify management of broken/faulty machinery
Check the fluid for brakes, transmission and power steering
Ensure you have completed electrical tests on all machinery used, including computers
Make sure staff take adequate rest breaks
Make sure staff are comfortable at their desks or areas of work
Make sure that people are fit and well, especially when operating machinery and large vehicles.
Reward safe behaviour
Introducing incentives for safe behaviour is another way to gain employee buy-in. Even rewards as simple as a morning tea or a gift card for the team or individual displaying safe behaviours can encourage other employees to follow suit. Making safety an opportunity for reward and recognition, rather than a chore, will make it more valuable to your employees.
For some great ideas from our customers on using telematics to improve fleet safety, head to our customers page.