In today’s world, the typical workplace is one that is efficiency-focused, exceptionally fast-paced and looking to be as productive as possible. While this is fantastic for profitability or target hitting in all industries, far too many workplaces find themselves cutting corners concerning safety.
When workplaces cut corners, they tend to pay less attention to safety standards. For example, a driver of a courier company might not be committing to all his safety checks as he rushes to fulfil his daily deliveries. In a food manufacturing factory, workers might cut corners by using less ingredients than needed, or even replacing them with unauthorised ingredients in order to stretch their resources to hit their daily quota.
This can all lead to disastrous consequences. The driver for a courier company might get into an accident while scrambling for their deliveries. The manufactured food product from the factory might then be contaminated, which can cause food poisoning in their customers.
This brings us to our point: committing to a zero harm policy in the workplace is crucial. Being safe in your own workplace should be a right, not a privilege. Read on to find out more about the zero harm workplace concept, why it’s so essential and also how it’s possible to implement.
What is zero harm?
Do you want to work somewhere where you feel unsafe? Typically, the answer to this question is no. Everyone wants to feel safe and protected while doing their job. This can be enforced by having your workplace subscribe to a zero harm culture.
This concept is generally looked at by workplaces as a specific and highly tailored approach to workplace health and safety. This is meant to ensure no individual (employee or not) is exposed to potential harm. Essentially, this means the workplace has been designed to ensure there is little to no risk involved in all operations.
This concept also greatly expands upon all generic and government-required safety regulations. Most of these regulations are in place as they have the potential to result in most workplace injuries. Workplaces with strong zero harm concepts and policies enforce additional safety requirements to prevent even the slightest injuries.
Zero harm can only benefit your organisation in the long run by saving on compliance fines, medical bills, and human capital. Now, here are some ways to encourage zero harm in the workplace!
Comprehensive management of staff
Your biggest asset, manpower, can also be your biggest risk. To promote a zero harm culture of safety and awareness, it is important your staff are aware of what is expected of them, including their adherence to safety. Should your employees not know of relevant safety procedures, it can be disastrous.
Firstly, all staff must be observed for compliance and accurate adherence to safety standards. An easy-to-communicate safety protocol must be developed and shared amongst team members. By doing so, all personnel will know how to mitigate any risk, deal with injury and keep the workplace running.
Managing your staff by providing up to date safety material and information is essential. Keeping records of all your staff working on a particular time and day will enable your organisation to effectively plan operations. By planning out workflows in line with daily headcount, you can help minimise workplace risk and encourage zero harm.
The importance of solid reporting should never be undervalued in any company. It is one thing to have a bird’s eye view of your workplace operations; but it is another to utilise that information effectively and efficiently to improve your employees’ safety.
This is where reporting comes in. setting up automated reporting systems that draw on information across multiple sources is vital. By engaging systems that allow you to access customised reports to easily analyse your data, you can ensure your workplace is tracking its zero harm targets.
Such software includes the function to identify peak times when your employees’ might be at risk of being on-site due to higher numbers of working staff. Reporting these data and analysing them can save your organisation countless hours of manual labour.
By detailed and constant reporting and analysis, can you encourage zero harm in your workplace.
Accountability and execution
Although it can be easy to navigate through training by simply reading prompts and presentations, much of the content can be lost on your audience if done wrongly. While the information being presented is often important, moving from slide to slide quickly can quickly lose an audience’s interest.
An example of how to keep your employees’ engaged is to include a hands-on activity; or even showing them yourself is a great way to set an example through your actions.
As leaders of your organisation, you should lead by example. Instead of telling them, “Put on the gloves and PPE,”, you can say “Watch me put on these equipment and follow.” show them with your actions you are committed to a zero harm culture of safety, and you expect them to be, too.
Being empowered to hold each other accountable and being able to call for a safety review are critical parts of participation. Whenever unsafe practises are taking place, it is important to call it out. This can be accomplished and reinforced by involving employees in establishing a company’s safety best practices, evaluation and mitigation of hazards.
Remember to acknowledge and provide positive reinforcement. A simple “thank you” can go a long way. Gratitude that comes from management will not only continue to encourage employees’ safe behaviour; but will also encourage the rest of the team in building a zero harm culture.
Transforming culture and leadership
As part of improving the control system your company has in workplace safety, it is essential to consider culture and behaviour; and the significant role this plays in creating a healthy safety culture. For workers to carry out their tasks safely, it is important they understand their individual role in creating a safe work environment for themselves and their colleagues.
Addressing the ‘human factor’ in all safety incidents is now becoming significant in not just ensuring the safety of workers, but learning how to make them even safer as they continue their work.
It is increasingly recognised that employees must not just be safe physically; but mentally as well to create a working environment which is both secure and productive. By transforming the culture and leadership within your company, can you foster a psychologically safe environment for your workers.
In such an environment, then they will be willing to speak up and inform management of unnoticed safety risks, and be healthy mentally; which can ensure they stay safe at work.
Transforming culture and leadership is truly absolutely critical in ensuring zero harm in the workplace.
In a nutshell
As seen, there are a variety of different zero harm strategies you can take and integrate into your worksite. With the appropriate technologies, plans and protocols in place, all employees can benefit from this concept without fail.
Moving forward, take each day as it comes and prepare your teams— review your company’s policies, review roles and responsibilities to ensure health and safety; and most importantly, commit to zero harm in the future. Let us all take on the future with enthusiasm not only for our personal safety, but also for our colleagues.
About the author
Besides school and work, Venus spends her free time dancing (she has been a dancer for more than 10 years). She also enjoys spending time just chilling at home and hanging out with her friends.