Safety hazards exist in almost every workplace, no matter how small, how clean, how well-lit and ventilated, or how experienced the staff. While some hazards are obvious, and even illegal, others aren’t apparent until the moment an accident or injury takes place. As a business owner or operations manager, it’s your responsibility to identify these hazards and prevent these accidents before they take place, not the day after. Here are a few moves that can help.

Conduct annual or semi-annual safety audits.

Establish a point-by-point review system that can be conducted every year or every six months. Identify ten or twenty single check-off items that indicate the health of the larger system. For example, your check boxes might include 1) the number of safety-related incidents that occurred in each workplace zone during the previous year; 2) the number of employee complaints; 3) number of equipment failures; or 4) the number of employee departures. Each of these metrics can indicate broader safety concerns.

Encourage employees to submit concerns and requests.

Too often, injuries and accidents occur that might have been prevented if employees had felt comfortable reporting a potential hazard. Make the reporting process easy, and if possible, reward employees for voicing their concerns and pointing out problems.

Conduct a detailed safety improvement strategy every year.

Once per year, develop a detailed road map that will bring measurable, quantifiable safety improvements by the following year. Conduct an annual process that will determine and document the success of the previous year’s plan, and use this assessment to shape the plan for the year ahead.

Gather input and buy-in from a wide range of stakeholders.

As you complete each year’s safety strategy, gather data and input from supervisors, employees, community members, clients and other stakeholders. Don’t overlook valuable sources of guidance and insight, such as departing employees.

Strive to maintain a high bar.

When it comes to maintaining a safe workplace, don’t aim for the minimum. Set your sites beyond basic industry standards and strive to create a workplace with injury and accident rates that fall statistically far lower than average. Establish high expectations and then work to exceed them.

Create a culture of respect for safety.

Even the best safety improvement strategies are often undermined by a weak or toxic company culture. Cultivate respect for your safety initiatives by penalizing those who break safety rules, and reprimanding managers and supervisors who fail to model appropriate behavior. Encourage all employees to place safety above profits and productivity. Reward those who take safety requirements to heart and encourage others to do the same.

For more on how to develop a practical, effective safety improvement strategy and achieve all key initiatives by the end of the year, turn to the workplace safety experts at Liftow.