Image: PAT Test North East Image: PAT Test North East

Many small businesses and startups have volatile and unstable work environments. But no matter where you work, the last thing anybody wants in a workplace setting is an accident or injury, says Paul Brandwein. These injuries can be especially harmful to businesses that are just getting things up and running. Workplace injuries cause loss of productivity, higher worker’s compensation costs, lawsuits, and can sometimes even damage the reputation of your business.

If you’ve just started your own company, then you need to take a proactive approach to creating a workplace safety plan. Here are some useful safety tips for small businesses that want to help prevent accidents in the workplace.

  1. Communication is Key
A major part of keeping employees safe is clearly communicating all safety rules and procedures. Whether they’re available online or posted around the workplace, they’re an absolute essential to workplace safety. If the rules aren’t clearly communicated, employees won’t know any better, and they are highly unlikely to follow them. Along with this comes notifying employees of any changes made to safety rules or procedures.
  1. Practice Makes Perfect
It may seem tedious and unnecessary, but routine safety drills can critically help employees in emergencies. It’s important to instill in your employees proper safety procedures, and while reading lists of rules can help, nothing helps create a habit better than actually performing the drills over and over again. It’s better to do 10 drills than to let an employee get hurt because they didn’t remember the procedure.
  1. Proper Safety Equipment is a Must
Along with knowing safety procedures comes knowing how to use, and then consistently using, the proper safety equipment. The best way to determine the exact equipment you should be using is by undergoing a job hazard analysis, which involves assessing the potential risks of the workplace and the best ways to prevent them.
  1. Implement a Safety Training Program
Unlike drills, a comprehensive safety program takes place in a classroom-like setting and is an ongoing process. It gives employees the chance to voice their concerns about potential risks and teaches them how to look for workplace hazards.
  1. Emphasize an Accepting Environment
Another part of keeping employees safe is reassuring them that they can come to their superiors in confidence, and that nothing they disclose to supervisors will be used against them. That way, if an employee sees another employee engaging in any unsafe behavior, they can do what’s best and alert management without fear of retaliation.
  1. Set An Example
Children aren’t the only ones who need positive role models -- everybody can benefit from having someone to guide them, especially at work. When employees see management consistently following the proper safety procedures, they’re more likely to follow suit.
  1. Incentivize Safety:
One great way to get employees excited about following safety procedures is by turning it into a friendly competition. Find a way to monitor safety and split employees up into teams. Choose a meaningful prize to reward to the team that most exemplifies workplace safety best practices.
  1. Think Outside The Box
Many people mistakenly assume that employee safety solely concerns physical rules and boundaries, but it’s important to also address the possibilities of mental afflictions such as depression and stress, which often lead to lost work days.
  1. Give Employees A Break
No, really -- make sure employees are taking their regularly scheduled breaks. Sleep-deprived and fatigued employees can make critical safety errors if they aren’t thinking clearly. Never sacrifice safety for productivity.
  1. When in Doubt, Consult OSHA
With a mission to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance," OSHA sets the federal guidelines when it comes to workplace safety. If you have any doubts about the safeness of your workplace, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional at OSHA.

Ultimately, these are just a few ways to emphasize safety in the workplace. The most important aspect is to remember that safety is an ongoing process, and empowering employees with knowledge is the best way to keep them safe.

Paul Brandwein, is the website manager for Transportation Safety Apparel.