‘Safety first’ is a phrase that gets bandied about quite often. Companies are quick to say that the safety of visitors and staff is their number one priority, yet you would not know it by observing what they do. The truth is that safety is a mindset. It is not a set of marketing principles or a few one-time fixes that correct obvious hazards.
In many parts of the world, not maintaining a safe environment can result in litigation. Lawsuits abound in the US while regulators here in the UK come down hard on business owners who fail to maintain a safe environment. The last thing a business owner needs is to be found guilty of violating safety standards after an accident that led to an injury or death.
So, how do you design a safe business for visitors and staff? By assessing your current situation and doing what needs to be done to improve safety. Below is a description of the basic steps. If you are still a little confused about it all, you can always seek out professional safety experts for help.
1. Familiarise Yourself with the Law
The first step is to familiarise yourself with the law in your particular location. In England and Wales, workplace safety falls under the purview of the Health and Safety Executive. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal authority tasked with workplace safety in the US.
Also, note that you may have certain safety requirements dictated by regional and local governments. You will have to contact every regulating body to learn what is required of your business based on where it is located, the industry you are involved in, and the hazards known to your specific industry.
This is perhaps the most complicated step of the process. Regulations can seem vague and complicated at times. They can also seem a bit daunting. So again, a professional safety expert might be someone to think about turning to for help.
2. Conduct a Risk Assessment
Next is to conduct a safety risk assessment within your workplace. In England and Wales, risk assessments are required by law for all businesses of a certain size. Risk assessments take a look at everything from hazardous materials to potentially dangerous working conditions. The person or entity responsible for the risk assessment depends on the size of the business and the type of work it does.
Risk assessments should absolutely be comprehensive. They should look at workplace safety from every angle, both inside the building and out. Inside, you are looking at everything from adequate lighting to keeping walkways clear. Risk assessment involves fire hazards, hazardous materials, training procedures, and so forth.
Outdoors, risk assessments focus on moving people on off your property safely. As such, you’re looking at things like speed bumps and traffic control. The idea is to separate people from any potential hazard as often and as effectively as possible. In cases where some of your company’s work is done outside, the same principles apply.
3. Come Up with a Plan
With the legal framework and a risk assessment in hand, you and your management team can come up with a comprehensive plan to address any safety issues raised by the risk assessment. Note that planning is the key to success. It is not enough to just throw ideas against the wall and see if they stick. You have to plan to be safe.
If you used an outside contractor to conduct your safety assessment, you might also ask that person to provide recommendations for moving forward. Otherwise, you are going to have to come up with ideas on your own. At any rate, the goal is to be forward thinking. Try to identify the biggest risks and address them first. Then work on less pressing items after.
4. Repeat the Process
As was stated at the beginning of this post, workplace safety is not a one-and-done thing. Safety is a mindset. As such, completing the steps to creating a safe business is only the start. What’s next? You start the process over again. Maintaining workplace safety at all times involves continually checking for legal compliance, conducting risk assessments, and coming up with a plan to address any deficiencies.
A lot of companies utilise a ‘responsible person’ to keep things moving. This person may or may not have other responsibilities within the company. At any rate, it is his or her job to continually monitor the workplace environment. He or she is ultimately the go-to person when things need getting done.
Now you know how to design a business that is safe for both visitors and staff alike. All that remains is for you to get busy. Remember, safety first is not just a marketing phrase. It is a way of thinking that leads to a way of doing business.