Businesses are required by law to draw up and publish a policy outlining their approach to health and safety in their workplace. However, although this satisfies a company’s legal obligations, these actions can be little more than mere words if employees are unaware of the policy and its contents.
Essentially, despite a company's responsibility to ensure the health and safety of its employees, health and safety efforts are worthless without employee understanding and engagement.
Therefore, businesses should do what they can to improve awareness and acceptance among their workforce. With this in mind, here are four suggested methods for improving health and safety promotion in the workplace.
How to Promote a Culture of Health and Safety
1. Improve Communication
Ultimately, improving health and safety awareness requires effective communication; and this goes both ways.
Your health and safety policy should be easy to access. For example, on the company intranet or displayed in a prominent place within the workplace. Most importantly, clear signage – highlighting the location of trip hazards, dangerous machinery or a risk of shock – is vital to minimise the risk of injuries and accidents.
It's also vital to learn from the “lived experience” of the workplace. Nobody knows a working environment better than the people who work there daily. Company management should listen to employee feedback, and gather insights about how to make improvements. Employees can identify the potential risks they face on a daily basis, and can measure the effectiveness of any health and safety procedures put in place, and report back to the employer.
The purpose of a health and safety policy should be to inform the actions of a company’s employees. However, over time, the with employees’ experience can also inform the contents of the policy too. This establishes clear channels of communication between both employer and employee can create a stronger health and safety culture.
2. Instil a Sense of Ownership
It’s important that employees feel invested. That way, they’ll feel more engaged.
Rather than channelling a series of directives and reports from the top down, the appointment of health and safety advocates or representatives within the workforce can help spread awareness and give a voice to those outside the board room. More so, regular staff meetings are hugely beneficial too. This will give employees the chance to ask questions and raise concerns, and the appointed health and safety representatives can update their colleagues on the latest policy updates and new initiatives.
What’s more, it’s worth involving competent members of staff in carrying out risk assessment procedures. Not only will this instil a sense of ownership, but it will immediately increase their awareness both of potential workplace hazards and the expectations for self-responsibility when mitigating risk.
3. Training, Training and More Training
New employees should have health and safety training as part of their on-boarding process to instil awareness and understanding of the importance of the company’s health and safety policy. Additionally, existing employees should attend refresher courses or supplemental training to ensure a strong health and safety culture. By doing so, businesses may find it easier to introduce new procedures, update, and communicate health and safety with an engaged workforce.
Arguably, traditional classroom-based training can be expensive and time-consuming, so e-learning should be considered. Not only is it more convenient, fitting in around employees’ work, but an online learning approach can be more engaging than in a classroom setting. What’s more, it’s measurable; for example, a cloud-based platform allows HR teams and heads of department to access employee compliance records and individual training qualifications, enabling them to stay on top of vital training requirements.
4. Record Everything
Although the HSE’S RIDDOR may only require certain types of work-related injuries to be reported, thorough reporting should be encouraged nonetheless. Management should demonstrate the importance of well-documented risk assessments and incident reports in refining a company’s health and safety policy, and identifying any potential problem areas that may need to be addressed. With accurate and up-to-date records to hand, employers can protect the health and safety of their workers. Easily retrievable information ensures continuity and consistency; everyone remains informed on particular incidents and issues, regardless of where and when they occurred.
Health and Safety Should Be Everyone’s Priority
Raising awareness of health and safety is more than just fulfilling an obligation in the workplace; it’s fundamentally in everyone’s interest. It helps employees avoid injury, and protects businesses from the legal, financial and reputational damage that can accompany a workplace accident. Regular, open, two-way communication is therefore the answer. Informed and engaged employees can see a company’s health and safety policy as far more than just words. When managed correctly, a strong culture of health and safety is a sign that employers care about employee welfare.
To discover how an online health and safety solution can improve the promotion of health and safety in the workplace, visit our free demo page.