Top 5 Best Practices for Safety and Health in the Workplace

We all strive to be the best at what we do, right? Sure we do, but we don’t always take the time to look at what “best practices” – things that others have done that work and things we can use to better ourselves and those around us – may be. So, here are five best practices to assure safety and health in your workplace is the best it can be.

Best Practice #1 – Assure Management’s Commitment to Safety and Health

Sure the management level is committed to safety and health practices, but do you, as a manager, make sure there are resources (monetary, human, physical, mental, etc.) available to ensure that all work is done to the best of the ability of the employee doing it? Do you provide the necessary – and correct – tools?

Best Practice #2 – Assure Policies and Procedures are Written Down, Spelled Out and Consistently Applied

It’s not enough just to have the policies and procedures in place, everyone needs to know about them and know that they will be enforced. Make sure the policies and procedures are conveyed to your workers so they not only understand but also comprehend them. Here’s an example:

Option 1: “Hey Jeff, you know how to operate a tractor, right?”

Option 2: “Hey Jeff, show me how this tractor operates.”

Can you see the difference? With the first option, you do not necessarily know if Jeff can properly operate the tractor, because he’s just going to respond “yes” or “no” (likely “yes”). By having Jeff demonstrate how the tractor operates in the second option, he has no way to hide his understanding (or lack thereof) of what to do.

It’s also important to make sure these written policies and procedures are revisited and changed as needed.

Best Practice #3 – Manage People Well: Employees Can Be your Greatest Resource, Greatest Asset or your Greatest Liability 

Human resources is a difficult field. Although it may seem easy to grow crops, run a farm or manage a business, it can be VERY hard to manage people. It’s occasionally like herding cats or giving children directions. Have you ever noticed how many times you need to guide a child in a particular endeavor? It’s the same for adults. In fact, adults retain only about 20 percent of what’s told to them in training, just like children – we are truly just big kids. As a manager, if you remember that only 20 percent of what you are teaching during safety and health training is going to get through, you’ll remember it’s necessary to repeat the lessons with remedial training and follow-up four more times.

Best Practice #4 – Assure Competency in Supervisors

Successful businesses allow employees to stretch and grow and give a bit of freedom to employees and managers to think outside the box. However, they also assure that proper guidance is provided by those in charge. The only way to accomplish this supervisory management role with consistency is to assure that the people in these roles are properly equipped. Many managers rise up through the ranks and lack training on HOW to manage. Prevent this by providing management training as employees advance, and be sure to follow-up and review their training just like everyone else.

Best Practice #5 – Follow-up and Review. Follow-up and Review.

Did I say that twice? Yep – twice, and if you refer back to Best Practice #3, you will remember that follow-up and review likely needs to be said five times! Follow-up and review is where the rubber meets the road. This best practice assures commitment is in place by management, that policies and procedures are written down and adhered to (with discipline action if needed), that human resource management and training are done, and that all of these best practices are put into action items, with review and follow-up done on a regular basis.

Be firm, be fair and be consistent with how you handle safety and health in your business.