For office managers, commercial landlords and office refurbishment companies, workplace safety is one of the most important concerns related to office design. In fact, according to HSE statistics, more than a million workers are injured or made ill by their work each year in the United Kingdom alone, costing employers £3 billion in the process. Although these figures relate to a multitude of industry sectors and work place environments many do occur in an office setting.
However, while workplace safety is of the utmost importance organisations need to find ways to improve safety levels without compromising their workspace. In this article, we take a look at the ways you can achieve this, with a focus on the importance of creating the right culture and getting employees involved.
1. Cultivate a Workplace Safety Culture
One of the most effective things you can do to improve workplace safety is take steps to create a culture that places an emphasis on safety in the workplace. In a healthy culture, workplace safety should be discussed regularly with employees.
New recruits are provided with relevant health and safety information via their induction however, the process should not stop there. Safety briefings and training should follow a proactive methodology, while enabling analysis of workplace injuries, accidents and incidents in order to identify common hazards and promote remedial action.
Although competence for safety within the workplace should be within the organisation itself there is an option to involve office space planning consultants and other experts, in order to assist with making the necessary changes to designs and layouts where further guidance is required.
2. Be Available to Listen to Employees
In addition to having a culture that emphasises workplace safety, leaders in the organisation also need to be available to listen to employees reporting unsafe conditions, situations or equipment. For this reason, it is essential to be approachable and to take action when needed, rather than shirking responsibility.
"Keep an open dialogue [and] make it easy for your employees to come to you with health and safety concerns," says Michelle Hopkins, writing for Concentra. "Appoint or nominate a safety captain who is empowered to communicate concerns identified by employees to leadership on a consistent basis."
3. Make Sensible Recruitment Decisions
Another way that workplace safety can be improved - and one which is sometimes overlooked - is through smart recruitment decisions. In general, hiring more competent or experienced staff can help to minimise safety risks, because they are better equipped to perform their day-to-day tasks, and less likely to make potentially dangerous mistakes or errors.
Therefore, a great way to improve safety without compromising your workspace whatsoever is to make informed hires. This could involve developing a more robust recruitment process, or taking more time to assess the candidates and select those who have the appropriate skills and experience levels, rather than rushing to fill vacancies quickly.
4. Prioritise High-Quality Safety Training
Next, it is important to make safety training a top priority and ensure the quality of that training is high. Depending on the nature of your business and the workplace itself, this training may involve teaching employees how to safely use equipment, but it could also include much more general health and safety training as well.
The most common injuries in the workplace occur from slips, trips or falls, according to research from the Health and Safety Executive. For this reason, it may be worth discussing the viability of non-slip surfaces with office space planning consultants.
With that said, there are ways to reduce risk through training too, such as establishing best practices to follow with regard common hazards such as wet floors through spillages, cable management for office equipment and clear identification of changes in flooring levels.
5. Be Willing to Spend on the Right Tools
Finally, it is essential that businesses are willing to invest in the right tools and equipment for their staff. This involves spending sufficiently in the first place and avoiding the temptation to do things on the cheap. It also means regularly reassessing the situation, to see if further equipment improvements are needed, or if upgrades could be beneficial. There must also be a willingness to work with office refurbishment companies to make changes.
The Final Word
Workplace accidents and incidents can be extremely costly, which makes safety a top priority for most business leaders. However, one of the major challenges is achieving greater safety without compromising your workspace and potentially stifling creativity, productivity or the overall quality of work being produced.
In addition to carrying out regular workplace assessments and working with office refurbishment companies to make necessary changes, it is important to involve employees on a more personal level. This can be achieved by developing a workplace safety culture, being open to employees' views, making smarter decisions in the area of recruitment, and providing both new and existing workers with appropriate training and development.
Reno is a founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, an office branding company in UK specialising in commercial interior designers, office refurbishment and office interior design services. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends.