How Employers Can Make Employees Feel Safe at Work

Friday, January 3, 2020

Is your management team doing everything they can to create a safe workplace for every employee?

Article 5 Minutes

Having a company that is known for its safe and friendly atmosphere will not only keep your employees in good spirits but may also be crucial for attracting top talent.

Think about it: employees go to work for the paycheck, but they stay because they enjoy the productive, fun, and safe environment. However, saying that people should stay safe is one thing — actually coming out and showing how much you care is another. Consider the following areas when setting up your safe workspace.

An environment of listening

The best way to have a workplace where employees can feel safe is for management to have an ear out for potential dangers, and one of the best ways to do that is by creating an environment where sharing concerns is welcome. The last thing any business needs is a workforce that doesn’t report threats because they think management won’t truly listen. At the very minimum, have a place where employees can hand in safety comment cards when they see an issue and make sure to review the cards regularly.

When employees do come to you, take every concern seriously and employ active listening so that you can fully understand the issue and offer a productive solution. Active listening means letting them explain their issue from start to finish as you take notes, ask thoughtful questions, come up with realistic next steps, and follow through with them. Once a solution is found, communicate with the employee so they know that you’re truly helping. If this one instance leads to a more widespread issue, then take broader actions.

There are many ways you can encourage open communication with your employees. Start by spreading signage throughout the office and send out newsletters that address common workplace incidents and new concerns. Put this information in lunch and break rooms where it’s more likely to be seen. Finally, hold regular safety meetings, so everyone is on the same page.

Be mindful of common workplace injuries

Injuries can happen in any workplace, regardless of the industry, but when employers take the proper precautions to protect their employees against these issues, then everyone is happier and healthier.

When it comes to the most dangerous careers, such as mechanics, electrical workers, and those in construction, extra care is needed and employers need to ensure that employees aren’t reckless. Management can show their concern by having safety gear readily available, including hard hats, protective eyewear, and steel toe boots.

Some of the most common workplace injuries that can occur on a job site or in an office include slips, trips, and falls. Show that you care by being proactive about such dangers by having staff in place to clean spills, ensure that walkways are clear of debris and hazards, and guarantee that all plugs are out of the way and drawers are closed. This is another area that can be discussed in company-wide safety meetings while also recommending that employees wear proper shoes and walk at a safe speed.

Most people don’t think of physical harm when it comes to office jobs, but incidents can happen, and good management personnel will show employees how to remain safe. For instance, office workers can get back problems if they don’t have ergonomic chairs, or they can develop wrist issues if they don’t use a proper mouse. So, provide them with the necessary seating and mouse and keyboard accessories that will keep their wrists and fingers aligned. These relatively small gestures can mean the world to employees and keep them in tip-top shape.

Set ground rules for interpersonal relationships

When you think about creating a safe work environment, it’s as much about personal relationships as it is about slips and falls. While most people go into their jobs and focus on their work, there are others who can create an unprofessional, uncomfortable, or unsafe space in the form of bullying and harassment. In fact, according to studies, 19% of Americans are bullied at work, and employees simply don’t want to work in such an environment.

One of the answers to bullies in the workplace is for management to take a strong and visible stance against such behavior. A policy should be put in place from the very beginning with inclusion in the employee handbook. Reminders must also be written on your signage along with the potential punishment, including termination, that will be imposed if that type of behavior is confirmed. During your safety sessions, you can have professionals come in to role-play bullying scenarios and show how to handle these negative confrontations.

Another bad behavior that is sadly still too common in workplaces is sexual harassment. Again, employees can feel much safer by seeing management take a stance against any behaviors that make people feel uncomfortable at work. It starts by spreading information about what defines sexual harassment, what is consensual and what isn’t, and if there’s a rule against fraternizing in the workplace. Policies should be in place from day one. Most importantly, once a policy is in place, there should be no exceptions because doing so will undo the employee confidence that you built.

With the amount of time that employees spend at work, it’s no mystery why they want to feel safe. Ensuring their security will make them feel valued and keep them coming back day after day.

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Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, politics, and more. You can follow her work on Contently, or reach her at [email protected]

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