One of the most important responsibilities of any employer is ensuring the safety of employees. Establishing and maintaining a safe working environment is not only critical to the health and well-being of your workers, but it maximizes productivity and reduces your liabilities.
Meeting OSHA Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was created in 1971 to ensure that employers uphold safety regulations and don’t put employees in jeopardy. If an employee ever feels that their employer isn’t upholding OSHA standards, they’re entitled to file a complaint. If the employer is found to be in violation and lacking compliance, they may be subject to fines ranging from $5,000 to $70,000.
Because some states have individual plans, business owners must be sure that they’re compliant with state as well as federal safety laws. You can find more information on state laws on the U.S. Department of Labor website.
Importance of Workplace Safety
There are several reasons why you should strive to create a safe workplace, aside from the obvious reasons of avoiding claims and costly fines.
- Lower absenteeism rate – If workers are injured, it’s going to lead to absenteeism and can put a strain on other employees. When employees are safe, you can have the necessary manpower and won’t have to scramble to cover the workload.
- Less turnover – When employees are concerned about their safety, retention rates can suffer — and it’s not realistic to expect workers to stay for long. A safe work environment allows employees to feel comfortable and know that their employer is concerned with their well-being. This tends to translate into deeper loyalty, causing more employees to stick around for the long haul.
- Increased productivity and profitability – There’s usually a correlation between workplace safety and efficiency. Employees can perform tasks with less friction, which often results in greater output and higher profit margins.
- Better reputation – When your company is known for putting an emphasis on safety, you can gain a positive industry reputation. Conversely, consistent complaints and penalties can hurt your public perception.
Creating a Safer Workplace
A safe working environment usually starts with establishing safety policies and training employees on how to perform their jobs while minimizing the potential for hazards. The specific policies and safety measures implemented will differ depending upon the industry, so you’ll need to address the unique safety concerns that your company faces.
Another good idea is to request an OSHA consultation visit where a professional will assess your workplace and identify the primary risks and hazards. This is free, and you can get more information at the U.S. Department of Labor website. It’s also smart to invest in ergonomic equipment because this too makes for a safer workplace. Not only does this allow workers to operate with more comfort while reducing the chances of illness/injury, it can also be a catalyst for increased productivity.
Workplace safety isn’t something to take lightly and should be an area of focus when running your business. Familiarize yourself with relevant laws and regulations, and put forth the effort to improve safety, to place your company in a position to thrive and avoid a lot of unnecessary complications.
If you’re looking for more helpful information on the topic of safety, the Q & A’s for Small Business Employers Guide on the OSHA website offers sound advice.