There’s a lot that goes into making a workplace safe. There is also a lot that goes into making employees comfortable and able to work at the peak of their abilities. It’s not a simple process – there are many variables that need to be considered.
Some are obvious, like requiring safety glasses or banning intoxication at work, but others are more subtle, like the use of cell phones on a production line. No matter what your environment or policy, it may be a surprise, but there is a correlation between workplace morale and workplace safety.
Both are closely related to management and leadership. It’s rare to find a factory manager who doesn’t care at all about worker safety in this day and age, but it’s not uncommon to find workplaces where safety is not the priority.
Leaders who ignore safety rules, encourage shortcuts, prioritize “the project” over safety, and use cost as a reason to not “do it right” are sending a message to their workers that safety is a variable, not a value.
If a plant spends heavily on attempts to improve product quality or efficiency and neglects to take steps to improve safety, that’s wasted money. Without a safe work environment, other concerns suffer.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs demonstrates that people have a psychological need to feel safe. If a person feels he or she is in constant danger, working in a poor environment, it should be obvious that that person will not be able to perform at optimum levels.
Management needs to keep a finger on the pulse of safety in the workplace and take care of safety concerns as soon as possible – or even before they come to pass.
Many workplaces institute safety training after an incident, which is necessary to avoid further incidents – but rather than only being reactive, management should be proactive in training and other preventative efforts to protect workers.
Safety training and regular safety audits help to build a culture of stability, rather than a culture of learning from mistake after mistake after mistake.
Lack of safety causes low morale, which causes inferior work and inattention to detail, which then breeds more safety concerns.
Don’t let your workplace fall into this cycle. Build a culture of safety, and workers will be happier – bringing about increased production, improved quality, and – yes – an even safer workplace.