Most industrial organisations recognise the long-term benefits of building a strong safety culture, particularly for employees working in operating field environments where industrial hazards are more likely. But what about the importance of Organisational Health and Safety (H&S) for employees who work in the office?
The relatively comfortable head or back office is often overlooked as a place where H&S needs to be considered. While hazards for office workers may be harder to identify, they do exist. According to a US Department of Labor Statistics report, in 2016 there were more than 60,000 office and administrative support workers who suffered occupational injuries or illnesses that led to days away from work.
Reducing these hazards is crucial to ensure a safe environment for your team and a strongly aligned business. It all starts with creating a workplace culture around safety.
Here are five ways you can build a safety culture in your office:
1. Start the conversation
Encourage a two-way dialogue with your office employees about specific risks in their daily work environment. Starting this conversation empowers employees to create a safer place to work.
2. Identify risks
While every office is different, there are a few places that potential safety risks tend to hide. Workstations with an improper ergonomic setup can lead to ongoing back strain or injury. Slick spots on the floor and equipment sitting in high traffic areas often cause slips and falls in the office, one of the most common workplace injuries among office and administrative support†.
3. Consider the risks you can’t see
When we think about safety, we automatically default to physical safety risks. However, an important safety concern stems from employee’s mental health. In our increasingly connected and fast-paced work environments, stress is more prevalent than ever and can seriously impact your organisation. Reduced productivity and increased sick days are just the beginning of the problems related to stress.
4. Make connections
It is worthwhile to extend the discussion beyond the office, by educating your office teams on the safety risks that their colleagues in the field face. Not only will this create a greater sense of connectedness between the office and the wider operation, it can actually help the business run more smoothly. By understanding the realities of these hazards, your back-office team will be able to better support the operations in the field.
5. Extend safety beyond the work day
Safety concerns don’t stop once an employee leaves work. Commutes to and from work are serious hazards for employees, and lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise affect the health and safety of employees daily. Educating and providing useful information to employees about how they can make changes at work and at home to decrease risk is beneficial and will translate to a more robust H&S culture within your organisation.
At PIP, we take H&S very seriously. Every employee participates in a daily safety discussion, or Safety Share. The topics range from H&S in the workplace to how to stay safe when practicing your favorite hobby. While at first employees wonder if we’re emphasising H&S too much, they soon realise how our efforts have helped them immensely and work and home. As one PIPer noted:
“At first, I thought [the Safety Share] was a bit strange. Could it really be this important to discuss safety on a daily basis? Months later, I realised that I had started internalising the safety discussions, both inside and outside of work. I was even taking steps to make my family safer. From checking that we have the right fire extinguishers in our kitchen to refreshing my partner and myself on safe driving techniques. I realise the power of discussing safety regularly. It has been a true mindset shift for me.”
Focusing on H&S within the entire organisation is powerful and will help create a better workplace. For more information and ideas about how to get started, please get in touch with us.
Think safe, stay safe.
†Source: US Department of Labor Statistics, 2016