But if we’re being honest, the inundation of safety recommendations can sometimes be overwhelming. Standards are habitually technical and complex, and it’s easy to get caught up in the nuances of each standard. Unfortunately, many of us can get so overwhelmed with the details that we forget the very basic, fundamental rules of safety.
If you or your employees can relate, there’s a simple, easy-to-remember acronym that you can reference to help bring you back to the basics: the ABCs of workplace safety.
The ABCs of workplace safety
A is for Attention
The first and foremost step to workplace safety is giving safety the attention it deserves. It should always be top of mind for your employees, and your organization should display a widespread enthusiasm for the health and safety of those working in your facility.
One of the simplest ways to do this is with safety signage and visuals. This includes everything from informational alerts and reminders to warning signs, hazardous chemical signs, security signs and more. To ensure your visuals are effective, make sure they are placed in a prominent, well-lit, highly visible spot and are easily recognizable: everyone should be able to understand your safety signs at a glance — regardless of language or experience level.
If you are addressing a danger that is associated with a specific machine or area, place your safety signs and instructions at the point of need. You can use labels to communicate safety messages on the machinery itself or throughout a specific work process. Safety visuals should be placed wherever it’s necessary to get your employees’ attention.
B is for Behavior
While you may have your employees’ attention, your organization’s health and safety is inherently dependent upon the behavior of your individual employees.
Behavior is influenced by a myriad of factors within the workplace: your organization’s environment; the attitude and commitment of upper management; the nature of the job or task; and the attitudes of employees, among others. The key is identifying these influences, and taking every opportunity to consistently reinforce safe behavior throughout your organization.
There are a number of ways to promote and foster safe behavior, the majority of which fall into one of two categories: training and recognition. It is vitally important that your employees receive regular, consistent training on key safety issues like lockout/tagout, arc flash and hazard communication. These training sessions will not only reinforce safe behavior, but they will bring new life to the safety systems and procedures you have in place throughout your facility.
You can also reinforce safe behavior by recognizing and rewarding safety-related achievements. Those achievements could be a completed training session, a designated number of safety audits or an accident-free year. Take time to celebrate the safety successes, and then discuss the activities that lead to those achievements. It’s an opportunity for you to give credit where it’s due, boost employee morale and keep your team motivated about workplace safety
C is for Control
Many facets of workplace safety can certainly be managed within our own control. There are a number of activities you can do on an individual basis that can significantly reduce the risk of injuries in your facility.
For example, you can keep your aisles clear. Maintain a clean and orderly work environment. Make sure machines are kept in good repair. Maintain proper emergency egress lighting, so you are prepared in case of an emergency or blackout. Clean up any spills and debris immediately. These day-to-day tasks — and many others like it — may seem trivial, but together they can make a powerful impact on the overall safety of your organization.
Renew your safety commitment
There’s no question that today’s definition of workplace safety compliance is a bit more complicated than it used to be. There are more recommendations, stricter requirements and increased governmental enforcement. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the fundamental concepts of workplace safety have not changed; in fact, they are more important today than ever.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to commit to long-term safety goals. Set up a continuous improvement plan, and take ownership of the health and safety conditions in your workplace. Every facility has its unique challenges and obstacles to overcome along its safety journey. The successful ones are those who make the commitment: the commitment to workplace safety, starting from the very basics.