As an employer, you have something known as “duty of care.” This is a legal responsibility to your employees to ensure the workplace provides for their health and safety as much as reasonably possible. Even in dangerous workplaces, employers must take precautions and preventative measures.
Duty of care, for most employers, isn’t just a legal responsibility. You do care about your employees. You hired talented, capable people, and you want them to stay with your company for a long time. When someone gets sick or is hurt, it affects your business and your office environment in many different ways.
You want what’s best for your employees, and that often means making employee health and safety a priority in the workplace. How can you go about prioritizing this to ensure you fulfill both your legal duty and provide the safe workplace you want to provide for your employees?
Ensure Compliance with the Law
The first step in prioritizing employee health and safety is to ensure you’re in step with the law. Many employers who care deeply about their employees read up on the law and discover they’re not as compliant as they thought.
This is sometimes because legal matters have a fair amount of nuance. Sometimes, the law has changed or a new measure has been implemented. Staying up to date on the legal framework governing employee health and safety should be a priority for your business.
Compliance with the legal framework gives you a strong foundation from which to work.
Design Your Own Measures
You shouldn’t stop with compliance with the law when it comes to employee health and safety, however. While this provides the groundwork, legal compliance often represents a “bare minimum” for employers. When you truly care about your employees, you’ll want to go above and beyond these minimums.
Using the strong foundation implemented through compliance, design your own employee health and safety program. Again, the legal framework provides the base. Take a look at the measures provided in it and ask yourself how to build on them. Checking ladders for safety and requiring handwashing is important, but how can you go beyond these simple measures?
Ask for Employees’ Help
You can’t ensure employee health and safety in the workplace on your own. When you want to make employee health and safety a priority in your workplace, be sure to ask your employees to join you in this effort.
Demonstrate your commitment to protecting your employees’ health, and show them you want to help them stay safe on the job. Your employees should be committed to protecting both themselves and their co-workers too. Emphasize how a healthier, safer workplace helps everyone.
You can organize employee education events to help them get started. Sometimes, employees do dangerous things or jeopardize their health because it’s easier or they don’t know any better. Education and employee training usually help employees stay safe on the job.
You might also appoint an employee health and safety officer who has more training. A joint management-employee health and safety committee might also be a step you want to take for your workplace.
Act on Feedback
Show your employees your commitment by acting on their feedback as well. When you ask for their help, you should solicit their feedback. Do they have health and safety concerns? If so, what are they and how could they be addressed? Sometimes, this will be as simple as replacing a rickety ladder or a frayed cord. Other, more serious concerns may require more sophisticated solutions, but you should always be willing to act.
When you make employee health and safety a priority in your business, you create a better environment for your employees. Keep up your compliance and ask for your employees’ help in moving beyond the legal requirements to create the safest, healthiest workplace possible. Your employees will thank you.