The process of hiring and orienting a new employee can be a daunting and sometimes tedious task. Employee retention can prove to be just as difficult. Fortunately, research shows a safe and healthy workplace provides a happy and productive workforce that prevents employee turnover. Identifying the risks in the workplace and creating an effective health and safety program helps to retain employees after a lengthy hiring and orientation process.
Identifying Hazards to Lower and Eliminate Risks
Before an employer can create a health and safety program, they should ask and answer these common questions about risk management in the workplace:
- What does it mean to manage risk?
- How do you understand risk?
- How do you lower or eliminate risks?
- How do you ensure staff follows safe work procedures?
Workplace hazards must be identified before a business can form a health and safety program. Once an employer acknowledges risks, they can manage them in four steps:
- Understand the risk level.
- Execute appropriate actions.
- Communicate policies and protocols to all staff.
- Observe and revamp measures regularly.
Using a risk-based approach to create a health and safety program allows an employer to focus on the significant risks and threats. For example, it compels management to ask, “what keeps you up at night?” And “what is the one phone call you don’t want to get?” Besides asking questions, an employer can understand risks by searching the history of workplace injuries or asking current employees what hazards they come across in day-to-day operations.
Lowering or eliminating workplace risks should begin at the most significant hazards, working toward the least significant ones. The best way to lessen hazards is by eradicating them. However, if a risk cannot be eliminated, the next best option is to limit it using measures and controls.
Some ways a business can lower or eliminate risks include:
- Elimination or substitution: Is there a safer way to complete an assignment? Can employees use a less harmful product?
- Engineering: Can a piece of equipment or a physical change make a task in the workplace safer?
- Administrative: Are safe work procedures in place to reduce the risk? Are there physical signs or postage in work areas to lower worker hazards?
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Is there equipment a worker can wear to help protect them? Can the business use PPE in combination with other risk controls?
To ensure workers abide by a newly implemented health and safety program, employers should include them in the risk-assessment process. Regular safety meetings and asking for input from your staff members are easy ways to make the process more collaborative.
The Benefits of Identifying Risks in the Workplace
The most evident advantage of identifying and improving risks is a safer workplace leading to fewer injuries and illnesses. Though there are other benefits of knowing the hazards at your workplace.
Other benefits include:
- More efficient resource planning by making unpredictable expenditures visible
- Better project cost tracking with more accurate estimates on the return of investment
- Increases awareness of legal requirements to comply with laws and regulations
- More flexible staff when changes or challenges occur
Risk management matters for all employees. Ways employees are impacted by risk management implementation include:
- Every person must manage risks.
- It makes jobs and tasks safer.
- It enables the successful completion of projects.
- It prevents unexpected events from occurring.
- It creates financial benefits by saving money on insurance.
- It saves time and effort on tedious data submissions.
- It improves overall communication.
- It thwarts reputational damage.
- It benefits workplace culture by creating a positive image for the public.
- It guides smart decision-making.
Implementing Safety and Health Programs
The key to successfully implementing a new program is to make health and safety core values within the company. Set clear goals with your workers. For example, tell them their goal is to finish their workday and arrive home safely. Assure them you will find and address hazards that come up. Leading by example is how employers can promote health and safety core values. They can practice behaviors and use proper PPE. They can also provide regular training and conduct regular inspections to give workers a means of communication to address workplace risks.
Creating a Health and Safety Program That Works
Every workplace has risks, and it is up to the employer to identify those hazards and figure out ways to lower or eliminate them. The best way to identify risks is through the input of the workers on site as they deal with particular hazards on a day-to-day basis. In addition, involving employees in creating a health and safety program will ensure its successful implementation.
Bertram, T., Marchand, J., Ripplinger, S., Douglas, M., Improve Safety at Your Small Business With Four Easy Steps
5 Steps to Any Effective Risk Management Process, LucidChart
Webb, R., 10 Reasons Risk Management Matters for All Employees, ClearRisk