4 Reasons Why Your Company Needs a Safety Program
This is part 1 in our 4 part series on implementing a workplace safety program. Special thanks to Safety Guys Workplace Safety Trainers for their input.
So you’ve launched your own business and now have more employees than just yourself. Here’s why you should give some serious consideration to starting a workplace safety program.
Apart from the general desire to see everyone go home healthy and happy at the end of the day, here are 4 reasons why you should take the effort and time to ensure your workplace or job site is a safe environment.
1. It's the law
No matter where you are it’s likely a federal, state, or provincial requirement.
In Canada, each province outlines the rules. For example, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour will fine or jail owners of companies that do not comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency of the Department of Labor, enforces the laws and regulations ensuring workplace safety.
2. It makes financial sense
It’s easy to imagine the cost to your business in the event of a workplace accident. You’ve got an injured worker and no matter who is to blame, your operations are compromised. That worker is now off the job, and lost productivity will be compounded if the incident results in an investigation. Your work site will likely be shut down pending the findings and you could be liable for a hefty fine or imprisonment. And you also open yourself up to a nasty lawsuit even if you are not liable. Still not convinced? Oh, and expect your insurance premiums to jump.
3. Improved employee morale
When your workers feel valued by their company and they see that their health and wellbeing matters, they are more likely feel a collective belonging and happier working there. If they feel they have the proper equipment and training, then they have the tools and incentive to give your business their best.
If a worker is told to use broken equipment and gets hurt, well, that’s gonna cost you more than it would have to fix it (see above).
4. It's good PR/marketing
How a job site looks is a direct reflection on your business. It’s visibly noticeable when a worksite or office has a safety policy. Is the worksite tidy? Do you have first aid kits and fire extinguishers? Are your health and safety rules visibly posted? The care you put into your workplace reflects on whatever you do.
Conversely, if your job site is shut down by a safety violation or accident, well that is really bad PR and if that’s followed by a fine or jail time, even worse.
Government labor agencies are not shy when they prosecute a company that’s alleged to have breached safety codes. Expect press releases mentioning you and your company by name.
Far from being a hassle, these emergency plans and safety assessments should be looked at as an opportunity—to protect your business financially, enhance employee morale, and put the best foot forward for your company.
Where to start
Whether your business is big or small, based at one location or many, you are legally responsible to make sure that your business is a safe and healthy place to work.
A health and safety program is a plan of action designed to prevent injuries and illness at work, and is required under occupational health and safety legislation in most jurisdictions.
Far from being a hassle, these emergency plans and safety assessments should be looked at as an opportunity—to protect your business financially, enhance employee morale, and put the best foot forward for your company. And while it may seem daunting at first, they are straightforward and simple to design.
There are four areas to consider when doing a safety assessment and designing a workplace safety program:
Personal protective equipment (PPE) – Essentially do your employees have the necessary clothing, eye protection, gloves, or other equipment designed to protect from any on the job hazards and injuries?
Chemical safety standards – In Canada the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) sets the standard. In the U.S., it’s the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard (OSHA HazCom). Employees should know what symbols denote hazardous materials and precautions to take when handling.
First Aid – Do your employees have access to emergency materials needed in the event of an accident. Is there an emergency eye wash station where chemicals are being used? Are they trained in lifesaving procedures, such as CPR?
Field level risk assessments – A tool for identifying, eliminating, or minimizing potential hazards at job site on the day the work is being done. All it takes is time and a bit of imagination and an effective tool, often can be easily designed.
We’ll get to tips and best practices for setting up a workplace safety program in our next article.
In the meantime, here are some useful URLs:
This is part 1 in our 4 part series on implementing a workplace safety program: