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How to Create Effective Safety Guidelines in the Workplace

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on August 24, 2018 at 9:37 AM

Workplace safety is a primary concern for any organization. To support your safety initiatives, it’s important to create safety guidelines for every worker to follow and encourage them to practice good habits while at work.

OSHA makes it easy for EHS managers and company leadership to understand the potential safety hazards in a workspace. The agency has created extensive guidelines to increase the level of worker protection, but these guidelines are often complex, dry, and largely seen by workers as nothing more than a formality.

If you want your safety guidelines to garner attention and do what they’re designed to do, follow our top tips on creating effective safety guidelines in the workplace.

Make Your Guidelines Relatable

Let’s face it: safety rules are easily broken. That’s because they’re either too complex to understand, or employees don’t realize the purpose (and consequences) behind certain rules.

If you want your safety guidelines to be well received, you must make them easy to understand while also making it clear why they’re important. Opt for simple language in lieu of legalese to make your guidelines relatable. You could work with your marketing department to write well-branded guidelines that reflect your company’s safety culture.

Ensure Everyone Reads and Understands the Guidelines

Whether you’re drafting new guidelines or simply want to raise safety awareness, it’s important you gain assurance that every employee has read and understood the guidelines. Ideally, this reassurance will occur via two-way communication rather than a computerized training module so that employees can ask questions and provide feedback.

Having each person sign an acknowledgment can be helpful in enforcing your safety guidelines. It makes it easier to hold them accountable if they’re observed not following the rules.

Enforce the Guidelines

EHS managers don’t spend hours creating safety guidelines because they like to. These guidelines are designed to promote a safer work environment and protect employees and the company’s best interest.

If you want your guidelines to do the job you designed them to do, there must be some form of enforcement. When you observe someone not following the safety guidelines, you might consider a disciplinary system that will remind them of the guidelines and non-compliance won’t be tolerated. This will also give you a better idea as to who might be most at risk while at work so you can take precautions to prevent future incidents.

Another option is to develop an incentive system to reward workers you observe following safety guidelines. You might consider offering public accolades for safe workers, gift cards, or even a group party for all workers who had no safety violations during a specific time.

Incorporate Your Guidelines into Routine Safety Training

A one-time run through of safety guidelines isn’t enough to keep these rules top of mind. Your workers face many obstacles and responsibilities each day, and safety guidelines can easily make their way down the priority list.

Instead, try incorporating reminders and updates into your routine safety training. Everyone needs a little refresh every now and then, plus it gives you a chance to revamp your guidelines to reflect the most current issues and procedures in your organization.

Post the Guidelines in Key Areas as Visible Reminders

OSHA requires companies to post certain sets of guidelines in specific places, such as handwashing signs in bathrooms or workplace rules in break rooms and work zones. You should give your own safety guidelines the same level of visibility.

This gives workers a chance to review the guidelines at their convenience while also creating top of mind awareness. Having an ongoing reminder outside of typical training sessions and safety meetings can help boost retention and leave no excuses not to know or follow the guidelines.

Add Safety Guidelines to Your Employee Handbook

Including safety guidelines in the employee handbook is common practice for many companies. If you don’t have an employee handbook, it’s a good idea to create one to document important company policies and procedures. For new hires in particular, knowing safety guidelines up front can help them to develop good habits from the start and make them more likely to do their part in contributing to a safe workspace.

Got questions? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out today or drop us a comment below.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Safety Management, EHS Management, Training Management, Safety Meetings, OSHA, Compliance

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