Safety Management 101: What Every Small Business Needs to Know

As an employer, it's your responsibility to provide a safe working environment. This is for humanitarian purposes first and foremost, but it also makes good business sense. You'll find that you limit your liability, and therefore improve your bottom line, with fewer workplace accidents. It's important, therefore, that you have a safety and health system or a safety program that standardizes a variety of best practices when it comes to workplace safety at your location(s). This is a plan that will explain how people in your organization conduct their day-to-day work so as to minimize the risk of injuries. Here are a few things that should be included in that program.

1. Commitment From Management

The management at your business (and that includes you) must lead by example when it comes to practicing workplace safety. Remember, more is caught than taught. When your employees see people in positions of authority going out of their way to act safely, they'll be more likely to follow suit.

2. Involvement From Employees

Even with management buy-in, it's likely that there are some risks in your routine operations that are known only to people who are more directly involved with those activities. That's why it's important to get feedback from employees about ways to enhance workplace safety. Be sure your leadership team is open to input from people who report to them.

Identify Potential Hazards

Before you can take any kind of preventative action, you need to know about the hazards that exist at your company. Take the time to review reports of accidents that have occurred at other businesses similar to yours. If you're a new owner, review the log of on-the-job injuries that occurred before you became the owner. Also, review inspection reports and conduct an on-site walk-through with your employees to identify possible hazards.

4. Prioritize The Hazards

First of all, prioritize the hazards. Obviously, the hazards that pose the biggest threat need to be addressed first. Also, see if there is any "low-hanging fruit." If there are hazards that can be easily addressed, knock those off quickly so you can shorten your "to-do" list.

5. Decide How You'll Control Each Hazard

Finally, make a plan about how you'll control each of the hazards. Is safety equipment needed? Then make the purchase. Can the hazard be minimized by a change in how the job is performed? Then make the change. Is better, more up-to-date equipment needed? Then upgrade the equipment. Workplace safety is not something to be taken lightly. You'll find that you not only foster better employee morale by ensuring that you create a safe working environment, but you also protect your business from painfully expensive lawsuits.