Employee safety is more important than ever in and out of the workplace. The National Safety Council (NSC) marks National Safety Month every June by giving vital information to businesses and employees in order to save lives and avoid injuries.
At Evercor, safety is at the core of everything we do so we decided to put together a comprehensive article based around mitigating potential risks, what to consider in training programs, what those programs may cover, along with other health and safety tips.
Preventing Safety Incidents Before They Start
While each industry has its own set of safety regulations that companies must adhere to, human mistakes sometimes slip through the gaps because they are disregarded.
Workers and employers may rush to meet deadlines and fail to pay attention as closely as they should. In other circumstances, there may be risks in the workplace that an employer or management is unaware of.
Keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Follow this list of practical suggestions for avoiding injuries in the first place.
Keep Workspaces Clean
Most people don’t consider cleanliness to be a deterrent to accidents but it does reduce the risk of injury in the workplace.
Having an environment that is cluttered and unkept makes it more hazardous for workers to maneuver safely. Make sure your employees follow simple rules like correctly routing computer cables and wires so they don’t become a tripping hazard.
Keeping your workplace clean and well-maintained reduces the likelihood of accidents, whether you work in a manufacturing facility or an office cubicle.
Post Appropriate Safety Signage
Employers should post appropriate safety signage in visible areas where there might be specific dangers. Employers should also put signs reminding staff of proper safety procedures in areas where those procedures should be followed.
Safety signage is the first step in warning anyone who is navigating your facility or property of potential threats. Situational awareness is one of the main keys to accident prevention.
Reporting Dangers and Accidents
Most workers are aware that they should report an actual accident but it is critical that companies urge their employees to alert management with any potential concerns to safety. Prevention and being proactive will help minimize future incidents.
Provide Proper & Ongoing Safety Training
All employees must be appropriately trained for their jobs. This includes instructing them on how to handle equipment and adhere to safety regulations while on the job. Also, having ongoing safety training will ensure that current health and safety standards are being adhered to and are top of mind.
Provide Proper Equipment
We’ve become all too familiar with proper protective gear with the Covid-19 Crisis so it goes without saying that every member of the team must be well prepared for their role. Employees should never have to perform assigned duties without the appropriate safety equipment like harnesses, goggles, gloves, or any other personal protective equipment (PPE) that the situation might require.
Avoid Shortcuts At All Costs
Accidents often occur when people are familiar with their job and become complacent around certain procedures opting for the quick work-around.
For example, a worker climbing without a safety belt to save time since they only have a short task to do.
Doing a task safely often requires a little extra time when done right but that can mean the difference between a minor injury and a potentially fatal situation.
Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns
To say this pandemic has posed significant challenges to pretty much every industry around the world might be the understatement of the year. A part of the silver lining to the situation we were all thrusted in are the heroic frontline workers who have diligently and selflessly put themselves at risk every day to keep our infrastructure moving.
Cleaning experts frequently labored in the shadows of business buildings, performing repetitive, labor-intensive activities in order to keep them clean. Consumers are now much more aware of the critical role that custodians and facility managers play in ensuring the health and safety of the public.
Cleaning for the sake of aesthetics is no longer enough. The general population now realizes that a surface might appear and smell clean but still have the potential to carry pathogens and other microorganisms that are hazardous. To restore confidence, maintain brand reputation, and prevent the spread of infectious agents, facilities must take a cleaning for health approach.
Protecting the Public
Most people have judged a facility’s cleanliness based on what they see and if it passes the ‘sniff test.’ A hint of lemon or lavender wafting through the air along with streak and dirt free surfaces would previously indicate that the facility prioritizes cleanliness.
Prior to Covid-19, that’s where the scrutiny ended. Most people traditionally have used their sense of smell to form a perception of cleanliness, even though fragrance has nothing to do with how clean a surface or area is, along with a quick visual inspection.
The pandemic has redefined what the public accepts as clean. It’s not enough if your facility looks clean. The public wants to be assured that you are taking every step possible to not only protect your facility from Covid-19 but are also taking steps to mitigate any future disease outbreak that might occur.
Organizations who show their commitment to safer workplaces during and after the pandemic are setting themselves up for success.
A Commitment to Cleanliness
While ‘cleaning for health‘ helps to maintain a facility’s appearance, it also thoroughly removes bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Consider the following recommended practices in cleaning for health to demonstrate your organization’s devotion to its employees, visitors, and customers in a safer work environment.
Review cleaning solutions mandated by the EPA & Beyond:
List N was produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide facility managers and consumers with a clear list of disinfectants permitted for use against SARS-CoV-2. Many options are accessible on the list, ranging from ready-to-use disinfection sprays to wipes, which users may filter by the kind of environment, surface, and contact time they are dealing with in any given situation.
It’s important to keep in mind that this list does not include every viable option. It doesn’t mean a disinfectant isn’t suitable for a cleaning program just because it isn’t included. Other third-party testing options, such as independent Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) laboratories, are available to assist in the search for appropriate substances.
Cleaning and disinfection products manufactured from water, salt, and electricity, for example, are electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS). They do not fall within the EPA’s List N of ready-to-use (RTU) products because they are generated by a system. The property manager can verify if a company is committed to cleaner, more sustainable cleaning solutions and if their products are more appropriate than other options suggested by the EPA.
Cleaning chemicals should always be checked for potentially caustic or hazardous components by facility management. Cleaning crews are exposed to higher risks as they clean more regularly. It is simple to protect employees by reducing chemical dangers in the workplace.
Employees should be trained (and retrained):
Keep in mind that not only are custodians and cleaning specialists cleaning more thoroughly during the pandemic, but so are staff who have never used disinfectants or cleaning equipment before. Cleaning jobs, like many others in the foodservice and retail industries, have a high turnover rate.
Unprecedented levels of stress are also being experienced by essential workers. The importance of clear and regular health and safety programs cannot be overstated.
Educate personnel on the different cleaning materials, equipment, tools, and technology that the facility uses to keep it clean for health. To ensure that personnel are following the two-step method of cleaning first and disinfecting second, provide hands-on practice with electrostatic sprayers, dispensing equipment, floor care devices, and even chemicals. Create visual guides, hold classroom training sessions with takeaway tools, and continue to promote best behavior with verbal reminders and congratulations. Organizations should also look into certification and accreditation options to instill confidence throughout the company.
Make Cleaning a ‘Visible’ Priority
Airports, schools, supermarkets and retail establishments all welcome visitors, students, and employees. Set a cleaning schedule that allows personnel to clean while visitors and residents are in the facility.
It will help boost confidence and peace of mind. This is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate that a company is committed to public health and safety. People trust that the facility is taking the appropriate precautions to prevent infectious outbreaks when they can watch the process.
It’s a Transformation on How We Clean
The public’s opinion of cleanliness and its role in protecting health and safety has evolved as a result of the pandemic. Consumers are more aware than ever before of the need for disinfection and hand hygiene in public places, as well as the efforts made by facilities to limit the spread of sickness. Meanwhile, businesses are seeking innovative ways to deploy new cleaning products and technologies along with training, certifying, and protecting their cleaning employees, and improving their entire cleaning strategy.
It’s Vital to Feel Safe on the Job
Workplace safety has a substantial impact on a variety of business KPIs. In other words, safer workplaces benefit from fewer accidents, which leads to lower occupational health expenditures, improved employee retention and satisfaction, less employee downtime, and reduced retraining time.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can proactively make workplace safety more effective.
Identify any potential safety concerns in the workplace:
It is critical to identify and evaluate all potential sources of hazard in the workplace before you begin developing your workplace safety strategy.
The first step in protecting people in the workplace is to identify those safety concerns and difficulties. Ergonomics, dangerous substances, mechanical issues, noise pollution, restricted visibility, fall hazards, and weather-related risks are all prevalent hazards.
Establish safety policies & procedures:
The next stage is to create safety policies and procedures after identifying all potential workplace dangers. Many companies have safety handbooks that employees can consult whenever they are unsure.
However, simply producing such materials is insufficient if your staff doesn’t consume and adhere to them. It is the responsibility of employers to remind employees of the necessity of following safety requirements on a regular basis. Furthermore, under OSHA laws, employees are expected to follow the employer’s standards, rules, and regulations.
Maintain staff alignment around your safety plan:
All of your workers, especially leaders and supervisors, must be aligned and on the same page if you want to create an employee-centric safe work environment, while also maintaining a great employee experience, and developing a culture of safety. Employers frequently overlook the significance of open and transparent workplace communication in employee safety.
Organizations must discover methods to implant new employee habits by presenting compelling safety stories, promoting new safety initiatives, and sharing company successes, in addition to having a clear strategy and safety training.
Create a safety communication strategy:
Many businesses are increasingly emphasizing safety communications as a core value. This emphasis on a safe workplace benefits not just employee morale but also the bottom line.
A safety communication strategy should include a variety of resources, as well as essential corporate updates, announcements, and other internal campaigns that must be delivered to the appropriate safety professional or personnel at the appropriate time.
In addition to timeliness, producing compelling and relevant information is essential. Always ask yourself the following questions when establishing your safety communications plan:
- What are the major points we want to get across?
- What are the most essential safety updates that workers should be aware of?
- What should be done with critical documents and how should they be shared with employees?
- Which workers need to be contacted?
- How will we segment internal audiences so that the appropriate employee receives the appropriate message at the appropriate time?
- What kind of content should we distribute that will have higher employee engagement?
- Which methods of communication should we employ to disseminate the messages?
- Can we contact employees through mobile phones in a couple of seconds?
- How will we recognise those who follow our guidelines in order to encourage other employees to do the same?
- How will we assess the effectiveness of our communications?
Advance Your Safety Journey
Our jobs can be demanding at times especially in high-risk industries. Sometimes that work can demand more than just an employee’s effort, often putting strain on their bodies. From constant back pain, slips and falls, to collisions and even chemical exposures; employees put their bodies under a lot of stress on a daily basis.
For on-the-ground personnel in high-risk sectors, the reality might seem dismal – but it doesn’t have to be. Employers have a responsibility to relieve employees of this risk by avoiding and minimizing any and all hazards they may face via the use of effective safety procedures.
Employers, on the other hand, all too frequently adopt a one-and-done approach to implementing these initiatives. When metrics plateau and improved safety outcomes are required, the race for improvement begins, typically with little success.
Safety Through Continuous Improvement
The effectiveness of continuous improvement isn’t just determined by injury and death rates. Employee feedback is critical in order to develop a safety program over time. Two really useful paths open up as a result of this targeted feedback:
One, by putting the power of improvement in the hands of both employees and management at the same time, this type of input method immediately improves safety procedures. On-the-ground personnel, not managers, are the ones who identify dangers and procedural defects the most effectively.
They are the ones who are confronted with these risks and procedural blockages on a regular basis. A basic requirement for the continuous improvement of a good safety program is giving them direct powers to recommend and implement improvements.
Secondly, this direct input provides the opportunity of enhancing a host of variables in safety, all of which are connected to increased productivity. By applying this mentality to continuous improvement and expanding the dialogue to other humanistic elements of an employee’s work-life, such as comfort, engagement, and workplace morale, a company will be in a position to enhance those elements, with tangible results.
This is why continual improvement is critical for the success of safety programs across the world; employee safety is enhanced while productivity and quality of life are improved at the same time.
Choose the Right Facility Management Company as a Partner in Safety
At Evercor, we understand that entrusting someone with the day-to-day operations of your property is an important decision, especially when you’re focusing on operating a large facility. We’re here to help you Work Uninterrupted and streamline your operations. Contact one of our account managers today to learn about how Evercor utilizes strong safety practices in our facility maintenance programs.