Whether you’re a facility manager of a large warehouse or a supervisor of a construction site of any size, it’s likely that your top priority is the safety and health of your employees.
In 2021, the NSC reported 4,472 preventable deaths in the workplace and around 4,260,000 workplace injuries that required medical attention; 260,000 of which took place in the construction industry alone.
As alarming as the statistics are, they’re also a great reminder that you’re right to worry about safety as a facilities manager! The stakes are high, so working hard to ensure the safety of your team should be a top priority.
If you’re ready to create a culture of safety for your people, here are 10 of our best tips to help you make it happen. Keep these tips in mind as you identify potential safety hazards, foster communication channels to establish safety protocols, and choose the best methods to keep your people safe, healthy, and happy at work.
1. Establish Clear Safety Guidelines and Procedures
Your facilities should already have a clear set of safety procedures that outline the way employees should use machinery and equipment daily. If you don’t have established guidelines, make sure you create them as your first step towards safety.
While safety guidelines are a necessary part of keeping any workspace safe and accident-free, these guidelines can often be confusing or out of date. That said, it's especially important to review your guidelines and protocols to make sure they’re as up-to-date as possible at all times!
When implementing a safety protocol, get your people involved to make sure they get an in-depth understanding of the risks associated with each of their job’s tasks. Since laws and safety regulations change regularly, ensuring your people are kept up to date will help to avoid unnecessary workplace accidents.
2. Establish Visible Reporting Systems
A lack of communication can be super harmful when it comes to safety hazards in the workplace! Make it easy for your employees to report safety issues and communicate about what’s going on where they work.
You can streamline the process by providing a centrally accessible board or digital platform for them to report hazards, submit work orders and maintenance requests, and track processes from start to finish.
Make sure you incorporate a tracking system that informs not only co-workers but upper management as well so that expectations can be adjusted during the process and no one will miss a beat.
Companies like BlueLinx and Suddath use Cooleaf to seamlessly create space for communication among their team members. Whichever system you choose to put in place, make sure it offers notifications and a mobile app so that your people can keep on top of what’s happening on the floor, no matter where they are!
On "CrewLinx," BlueLinx's personalized Cooleaf platform, everything from new hires to team updates is posted on a shared digital bulletin board.
3. Foster Community Through Open Feedback
As you update your safety guidelines and create reporting systems, make sure to also set aside dedicated time to collect staff feedback so that you can quickly and effectively address employee concerns.Ensure that these meetings are spaces for transparent conversation to happen, that way your team members will feel valued and heard by you.
Employees deserve to feel safe physically, professionally, and mentally. Respect their opinions and take them seriously. While you’ll probably discover many shared frustrations and challenges, by expressing your willingness to listen and work collaboratively towards a solution, you will significantly improve your team’s overall sense of belonging and well-being.
4. Invest in Safety Equipment and Technology
Shortcuts happen when employees are up against quotas and deadlines but lack the proper tools or personal protection necessary to complete a job safely and efficiently. If it’s within your control, dedicate yourself to investing in safety equipment and technology that ensures employee protection in their everyday work along with the necessary training for proper use.
Cheaper equipment may fit your budget constraints, but that’s no reason to cut back on the safety and well-being of your employees. Take stock of your budget and advocate for higher-quality tools and machinery by arguing against the downsides of inferior equipment.
Outside of investing in better machinery, make sure to also provide the necessary PPE with education on how to use it. Oftentimes, employees have access to PPE but do not know how to use each piece of gear correctly, so they choose to skip it alltogether. As more research on harmful chemicals in the workplace comes out, it is imperative to educate and provide the best safety resources to employees.
While it may cost more upfront, spending the necessary money on better machinery and approved safety equipment will save your company money and stress over time.
5. Hold Regular Safety Inspections
While some industries can get away with yearly safety inspections, this is not the case in construction, manufacturing, or shipping. Depending on the size and complexity of your workplace or construction site, you may need to conduct inspections on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis to ensure all equipment is running properly, and being used correctly.
Besides conducting your own inspections, certain pieces of machinery may require outside inspections to be done depending on the industry and state you are in. Heavy machinery such as cranes, hoists, and fork trucks require some sort of safety inspection to remain compliant. As a good practice, keep a checklist of all machinery that requires inspections with the date they were last inspected so nothing falls between the cracks.
If you are unsure if your machinery requires an annual inspection, head to OSHA to familiarize yourself with the local safety laws.
6. Create a Culture Where Safety is a Priority
Running frequent safety checks, providing a way to report hazards, and giving space to voice concerns all have the power to create a safe work environment. Not only does this reduce the risk of accidents and injuries, but it promotes a safety culture among employees.
When employees feel safe, their focus can shift from keeping themselves safe to the task at hand and doing quality work. Their mental health can improve as stress and anxiety decrease, and job satisfaction will increase as they know every day they walk into work, their employer is looking out for their safety.
As a result, you’ll witness higher employee retention and referrals that will help bolster your workforce in an increasingly competitive job market!
7. Get Everyone Up to Speed
It’s not enough to update your company’s safety procedures and programs if everyone doesn’t have access to up-to-date training. First, provide regular safety training and education to keep long-term employees up-to-date on the latest safety regulations.
Then, create a comprehensive training program for new hires to make sure they completely understand the risks of their job and the measures they need to take to protect themselves properly with all the safety policies you’ve put in place.
Make sure that everyone is up to date with the newest information and understands the importance of following every safety program guideline regardless of their tenure within your company or industry.
8. Reward Behaviors That Keep People Safe
Put incentives in place to further reinforce the importance and adoption of current or new safety procedures! Find new ways to recognize and reward those who follow safety protocols and demonstrate safety.
Whether it’s wearing a specific piece of protective clothing or following a series of safety checks before starting a task, make sure managers and shift supervisors are watching to “catch” people’s amazing work in a high-risk environment.
Positive reinforcement will go a long way in standardizing safety practices. Employee recognition platforms are an excellent way to offer a variety of rewards to your team members while also being transparent about why you’re rewarding them.
Companies like Yokohama Tire and M.J Kellner use Cooleaf to automate recognitions and incentivize team members who go above and beyond to keep their warehouses safe, healthy, and accident-free.
9. Encourage Visible Safety Leadership
To gain more adoption of your safety protocols, you’ll need to have management at all levels adopt the same level of expectations you want employees to meet.
Have senior members of the management team lead safety initiatives and promote a safety culture by wearing all required personal protective equipment (PPE) while on-site.
Give each team member the option to lead training sessions and demo mock-accident scenarios to get employees actively involved in the identification and creation of solutions in a hypothetical hazard situation.
When managers are directly involved in the well-being of employee safety, you’ll see a greater buy-in to safety guidelines, and a willingness to protect each other by following correct procedures.
Our Manager's Guide is here to help as you navigate team leadership. Download the guide for free!
10. Create a Culture of Accountability
Putting safety procedures in place is one thing, but it’s another to make sure that follow-through happens! Clearly outlined expectations that explain consequences are crucial for making sure you maintain the culture of safety you’ve worked so hard to create.
Workplace safety is non-negotiable and should be communicated as such to make sure everyone is held accountable.
Keeping team leaders and upper management involved is a crucial piece of preventing potential harm in your workspace. Offer the option to report non-compliance anonymously so that team members can ensure that their concerns are investigated without risking any repercussions or negative consequences. This way, employees can help ensure a safer work environment without having to directly confront the person who might be acting in error.
As a facilities manager, you have a crucial responsibility to promote and uphold a secure working environment. By keeping these 10 tips top of mind and making sure to apply them, you’ll actively enhance safety practices, guarantee the welfare of your employees and customers, boost company morale, and motivate everyone to achieve their utmost potential.
It starts with you! By working together, we can collectively create safer work environments for all.
If you're looking for ideas to rally your team together around a culture of safety, talk to us!