Promoting Safety in the Workplace

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It may surprise you to learn that many company executives consider employee safety to be a supervisor's top priority. They know that the supervisor is in the best position to build and demonstrate safety consciousness. As a supervisor, little that you say and do goes unnoticed. If you promote and practice safe working methods, you will have a tremendous impact on your employees, and on your company's safety record and bottom line. 

A safe department is a cost-effective department. Every time one of your employees is involved in an accident, it costs your company money. Costs include the time you spend conducting an investigation, filling out forms, and hiring and/or training a replacement. Budgets are impacted due to loss of materials or equipment; and for any resulting increase in the company's insurance premiums. 

The Importance of Training 

One reason accidents happen is that supervisors take certain safety practices for granted: A ladder must be steadied, equipment must be turned off before repairs are made, a forklift must be driven only by a trained operator. While these may be basics to you, they may come as a surprise to your employees. The best way to avoid such surprises is to make safety an ongoing part of your regular training effort. 

What can you do to make sure that safety training brings about positive results? Incorporate safety training into your regular orientation program and hold regularly scheduled safety meetings. Most employees' first contact with safety occurs during orientation. This is the best time to correct negative or inappropriate attitudes, and to establish positive safety practices. 

Make safety instruction a hands-on experience. Show employees how to work safely, and then have them demonstrate the procedures themselves. Correct any misunderstandings right away. 
Provide training in attitudes as well as in techniques. When poor attitudes show up in the form of carelessness or indifference to safety rules, take the time to review proper safety methods. 

Look for safety hazards in equipment and operations, and for poor housekeeping that can cause accidents. Insist that every employee report to you any injury, no matter how minor it may seem. It's your responsibility to see that every injured employee gets proper first aid and/or medical treatment. This applies even to minor injuries, to prevent infection and to avoid serious after-effects. 

Ultimately, the supervisor must bear the responsibility for a serious accident. If one of your subordinates is seriously injured on the job, you may have it on your conscience for the rest of your life. For this reason alone, it would be wise for you to do everything you can to create a safe working environment.