5 Questions Your HR Team Should Ask About Workplace Safety




  • September 2, 2016

    Workplace safety undoubtedly becomes a larger issue each year a company is in business. As a company grows and demand increases, it becomes more and more necessary for its owner(s) to assess their operations to ensure that they are maintaining workplace safety as they attempt to increase efficiency.


    Although we commonly think of hard labor tasks when it comes to workplace safety, the truth is that efforts to build a safe environment for employees are equally important in companies where employees typically hold desk jobs as well. If you’re a business owner or an HR professional, there are five important questions you should ask yourself as you develop and refine your workplace safety strategy.


    1. What are the physical risks?


    When we think of workplace safety, our minds naturally move toward physical risks that could lead to liability claims. Things like slip-and-fall injuries not only impact your company negatively, but also seriously compromise the health and well-being of your employees.


    One of the best ways to prevent physical risks at your company is to set up a brainstorming session with your HR team to find out where the potential risks exist. Do you have business travelers who need to be covered for travel risks? Do you have construction happening around your employees that requires additional attention in your safety plan? Ask your team what unique physical risks exist in and around your business and identify ways you can best avoid them.


    Atlantic training offers up an article with some cool info and insights on avoiding physical safety risks in the workplace.


    2. What are the cultural risks?


    Now that you’ve got the physical risks covered, it’s time to ask yourself where the cultural risks lie. These risks can include areas where employees could potentially have negative interactions with coworkers or others outside of the company that leave your company in a compromising position.


    Ask your HR team how your culture could potentially create problems. Could the lax nature of your workplace environment lead to issues with employees offending one another? Could the high-stress environment lead to issues with the emotional health of employees? Could a lack of confidentiality practices lead to inappropriate information sharing?


    Once again, assess each of these risks and find solutions to cover each within your workplace.


    Another Business2Community article by Marco Sacca provides an excellent breakdown of how you can identify and address risks in your business.


    3. Are employees extending beyond their job descriptions?


    One of the most common mistakes businesses make as they grow is throwing additional work at employees who lack the training or time to take on additional tasks. As you grow, it will be important to take notice of the tasks your employees have taken upon themselves. You could either identify this by observing operations for a period of time during a growth point, or by scheduling interviews with your employees to discuss their typical workflow and how it has evolved.


    If you find that employees are taking on additional responsibilities outside of their areas of expertise, it might be time to step in to more effectively delegate.


    For example, if you find that increased demand has left employees from accounting and marketing working to fulfill orders without the appropriate training, it could be necessary to hire more help in production to keep untrained employees from engaging in projects outside of their wheelhouse.


    Inc contributor, Jason Demers, wrote a fantastic resource to help business owners and managers effectively delegate tasks.


    4. Why are employees rejecting safety guidelines?


    It’s no secret – employees don’t always take safety trainings as seriously as they probably should. Although it’s impossible to completely change your employees’ attitudes surrounding workplace safety, it is possible to identify the reasons why they tend to reject or simply ignore certain safety practices.


    Start by observing behavior to identify where and how safety guidelines are ignored most often in your company. Does it seem like they’re avoided in the interest of time? Or are employees simply forgetting to implement them as they casually go about their daily routines?


    Work with your team to identify these things then regroup with your employees to provide solutions that address their apprehensions surrounding them.


    The Safety Experts at Safety.BLR offer up some great tips to help HR pros and business owners get their employees to take safety more seriously.


    5. How can you build safety into the culture?


    Now that you’ve identified where and how you should be maintaining workplace safety efforts at your company, it’s time to figure out how you can build safety into your workplace culture. The term “safety culture” was coined in 1988 by Chernobyl to address how companies can build safety into their workplace environments to make safety practices happen naturally.


    Safety culture is essentially the product of company values, attitudes, competencies and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to an organization’s health and safety management.


    Think of ways that you can get your employees to feel a sense of investment in the health and well-being of not only themselves, but others in the workplace as well. OSHA has created a guide to help HR specialists and business owners build an effective safety culture.


    Now that you know what to ask, get together with your HR team and start asking the important questions that will help you build a safer, healthier workplace for your company and its employees. If you have any questions or perhaps an additional tip you’d like to share, please post in the comments below.

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    Author: Cosette Jarrett


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