As a manager, your workers' safety is paramount for both their well-being and the well-being of your company. It is important that you make sure you are compliant with all relevant health and safety guidelines and that your workers are aware of them all. Of particular importance is lone worker safety because, should anything go wrong, your employee is on their own and help may not always be available.
Are Your Staff Safe?
Your responsibility as a manager is to ensure that your workers are safe at all times while carrying out their duties. You should be fully confident that there are no health and safety issues with your staff no matter what they are doing, but we all know that it is not enough to get employees to attend seminars and sign off on health and safety forms. What your employees do in training and what they actually do in practice are not always the same thing, and this is especially highlighted with lone worker safety when your employee may think nobody is around and no bosses are watching. Following workplace safety regulations should be part of the culture of the workplace and your work processes rather than some rigid set of rules of which your employees feel obligated to comply.
Evaluating The Safety Of Your Workers
It is important that you regularly check how compliant your workers are with health and safety procedures. Regular audits should be undertaken to test your employees and ensure as best you can that they are following all the relevant procedures at all times. This begins with reviewing your previous audits and noting any problems encountered. Make sure that you include several previous audits, preferably all of them where possible, because the most recent audit is fresh in an employee's mind but problems from previous audits can be forgotten or feel less significant with the passing of time.
Make note of all the differences that have changed since your most recent audit. Have new business procedures been introduced? Have you hired any new employees or introduced any new equipment? Are your employees working in new environments? All of these things can introduce new health and safety issues and must be considered.
Minimising Risk For Vulnerable Employees
Whether you've identified problems endemic to your company or simply a single employee that is reluctant to follow procedures, it's important to take action as soon as possible to minimise risk. Analyse exactly what the problem is and in what way it is not in compliance with relevant health and safety procedures. How egregious is the problem? Significant health and safety hazards endemic to your business procedures or environment must be corrected immediately and all problems require a resolution.
In the case of lone worker safety, problems with individual employees can be more difficult to resolve. Interviewing the offending employee is crucial to understanding why they are not in compliance with your health and safety procedures. As a manager it's important to be familiar with your employees and understand how to talk to them truthfully. Do your best to inform the employee the reason that these procedures are in place and relate to them how the procedures protect them.
Promoting Safety At All Times
Problematic employees need to understand the reason behind your company's health and safety procedures as well as the risks and consequences of failing to comply. Employees that fail to comply are likely doing so because they do not appreciate the consequences or they feel that the procedures inhibit their workflow. As a manager you need to understand how to demonstrate to your employee the dangers of ignoring health and safety procedures. For major issues that could result in bodily harm or even death, it is usually enough to highlight this to the employee.
For less severe breaches it can be more difficult to highlight the problem. As the health and safety of your employees is your responsibility, you need to take effective action to make sure that reluctant employees comply. This can involve disciplinary procedures or in extreme cases, perhaps even dismissing the employee. While this is a last resort, it is important to keep in mind what the potential consequences of ignoring the rules are in the worst case scenario. While dismissing an employee can be undesirable, it is always desirable to prevent severe bodily harm or death in the workplace.
Staying Compliant And Risk Free
Health and safety should be considered a part of your workplace culture rather than something you and your employees simply have to do. Treating it like a series of forms and seminars that must be attended every so often is not the way to make sure your employees understand and incorporate health and safety procedures into their work day.
Successful health and safety procedures become a natural part of your employee's workflow and are conducted like any other work task. Merge them in with your business procedures so they are tied together and do not feel like separate, distinct procedures that are disconnected from your employee's work. This helps to ensure that your employees work safely and remain compliant at all times. You must always keep track of your employees and regularly perform audits, because businesses are never stagnant and neither are health and safety guidelines.
Risk is something that can never be fully avoided, but by fully understanding and analysing the risks your employees face and ensuring health and safety guidelines are always followed, you can do your best to minimise the risk and keep your employees safe. Health and safety is something that can feel unnecessary for the 99% of the time when everything goes to plan, but for those 1% situations when something does go wrong they can be the difference between life and death.