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Straightforward ways to improve workplace safety

One of the most frequent complaints about government safety regulation in general and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in particular is that many safety-related demands placed on businesses are cost-prohibitive. Critics say that small businesses are forced to choose between complying with OSHA regulations and making a profit.

This is a false choice. Safety compliance does come with costs, but these costs are more than offset by the money saved by preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. Ensuring a safe workplace is largely about creating a culture of workplace safety.

There are many ways to create this culture, and it starts the minute you hire employees. Investing time and money to properly train your workers actually saves money if the training results in fewer workplace accidents. It also shows your employees that if they ever need to choose between safety and productivity (which they rarely ever will), you expect them to choose safety first.

You’ll also need to give your employees the safety equipment they need to do their jobs. But it’s not enough to just have the equipment available. It needs to be worn and used at all appropriate times. Workers are more likely to put on hard hats and wear safety harnesses if they know that it’s a consistently enforced policy.

After training your workers, promote the idea that safety innovations will be recognized and rewarded. This allows employees to take ownership of their work space and may help them speak up about ideas that could improve safety and efficiency. Also be sure to thank workers for reporting safety violations to make sure that they are not discouraged from doing so in the future.

Workplace safety does have an effect on a company’s bottom line whether you invest in it or not. But remember: Investing the time and money to ensure safety compliance is the smaller of the two possible costs.

Source: Entrepreneur, “6 Ways to Improve Workplace Safety Without Going Broke,” Phil La Duke, June 16, 2014

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