There are many compelling reasons to make workplace safety a priority, including federal and state laws requiring employers to provide a safe work environment and the negative effect that unsafe working conditions can have on morale, productivity, and retention. It is important to share those reasons during training.
The results of a recent survey by a group of workers’ compensation insurance providers suggest that workplace safety also gives small businesses an advantage over other companies in recruiting. EMPLOYERS found that safe working conditions are a top consideration for job candidates when deciding whether to accept an offer of employment. Applicants assess compensation, the nature of the work, and proximity to home, followed by safe working conditions, according to the survey. However, safety was ranked higher than the quality of potential coworkers and professional growth opportunities.
“In today’s tight labor market, it’s important that small businesses, which employ more than half of the American workforce, recognize safety of the work environment is a top priority for employees,” said David Quezada, vice president of Loss Control at EMPLOYERS. “One way for employers to attract and retain valued talent is to have and communicate a commitment to workplace safety. By fostering a safe work environment, small businesses can protect and retain their most valuable asset, their employees.”
An important way employers can promote workplace safety is by providing education, and the EMPLOYERS survey indicated that there is room for improvement in this area. Specifically, 17% of employees overall said they have not been trained on workplace safety; 25% of employees at microbusinesses (i.e., employers with fewer than 10 employees) have not been provided such training; and 40% of small business employees reported either a lack of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signage being displayed prominently or uncertainty over whether it is displayed.
“Creating a culture of workplace safety starts at the top,” Quezada said. “Business owners and management need to set an example by offering regular training and displaying proper safety signage, as well as by being open to their employees who report concerns.”
EMPLOYERS recommends covering safety during orientation and providing ongoing training year-round, suggesting, “It is also a good practice to include workplace safety policies in employee handbooks and display safety posters throughout the workplace to remind employees about the business’ safety priorities and procedures.”
Additional steps identified by EMPLOYERS to help promote workplace safety and, possibly, enhance recruiting efforts include identifying and assessing potential safety hazards, having managers lead by example, and enforcing and evaluating safety procedures.