Understanding the importance of building a safer workplace
Diving into some practices to ensure safety and security in the workplace.
Colds, stress, musculoskeletal problems and non-work related accidents are some of the main causes of work absence. Although it may not seem like it, these issues have serious consequences for a company and for you, as a team member. For one thing, occasional instances of colleagues taking time off work result in work being assumed by the rest of the workforce, with a consequent increase in stress, demotivation and loss of productivity. For another, occupational accidents can lead to high compensation costs for companies. How can employees and team leaders work together to build a safer workplace for everyone?
What can you, as an employee, do to build a safer workplace?
Safety and security in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. As an employee, you can start by requesting an employee well-being program, occupational risk training and establishment of safety protocols. It may seem obvious that it’s dangerous to walk on a wet floor or to touch wires, and that you should sit up straight while working in front of the computer screen, but you’d be surprised to know how many people skip these tips in their real working life. If your company has not yet shown you what the guidelines to follow in order to ensure a safer workplace are, have a word with your managers.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you find something strange around the office. This could be colleagues who skip certain rules and protocols, or certain situations with aggressive behavior or personal conflicts that can negatively and seriously affect the security and reputation of the company. For example, if you see a workmate going through a difficult time, don’t hesitate to let your managers know. It’s not so much about “sneaking” around behind someone’s back, as it is to keep watch over a safer workplace. The psychological discomfort can produce low performance with serious consequences: from sending confidential information to those who shouldn’t have access to it to physical accidents (especially in those sectors in which handling heavy or dangerous machinery is part of the day-to-day activity).
Thirdly, you could also encourage that workmate with the cold to ask for a few days off…viruses spread like that (imagine germ-laden fingers…) and if they take over the office they could lead to large absences and have terrible consequences for the team. Just think about having to cover the work of three people! Some studies show that stress is one of the illnesses that is growing more and more in the workplace. Perhaps, by reducing the spread of colds at work, we can contribute our bit to reducing stress and work overload.
What can you, as a leader, do to build up a safer workplace?
Working in a corporate culture that has the well-being of workers as the main focus should be on the agenda of any leader and leader-to-be. The main reason is that when a worker feels that the company cares about their well-being, it’s reflected in productivity. But what does the “well-being of workers” mean when it comes to building a safer workplace?
- Employee motivation techniques. Why? Because demotivated staff increases the risk of suffering physical accidents and those related to data security. Motivation techniques won’t only focus on enhancing the value of the individual and their important contribution to the company, but they’ll also include offering training programs and establishing security protocols.
- Building a corporate culture that embraces error as part of the improvement and innovation process. It may seem paradoxical, but accepting errors and mistakes as indispensable for growth means that fewer mistakes will be made or that they will be detected sooner. So knowing how to live with mistakes is also a way of ensuring a safer workplace.
- Having a “psychologically safe” work environment. Or put another way: a corporate culture that guarantees and ensures excellent working conditions. The balance between working life and personal life is essential in reducing accidents and, therefore, ensuring safety and security in the workplace. In this type of company, workers are allowed to take several breaks a day to counteract tiredness and fatigue, work in ergonomic spaces (well-thought and designed to ensure the well-being and health of the worker) and be able to work remotely. Access to health insurance and a gym membership are some initiatives that affect creating a safer workplace.
When you’re on the job hunt, it’s important that you focus your attention on those companies that have a corporate culture, which incorporates the safety of its employees as a basic pillar. In addition, given its consequences, working to build a safer workplace should be a priority on your path to leadership. Think about it: we spend, on average, about 90,000 hours of our life at our jobs. So having a better quality of work means, inevitably, having a better quality of life.