Your facilities team is the front line for inspecting and fixing building issues and keeping the entire company safe. Facilities maintenance can be risky, so protection should be a top priority.
The effort you put into keeping your employees safe can pay off via increased productivity and better morale. More than 90 percent of workers say they feel motivated to put forth their best effort when their companies show that they support employee well-being, according to the American Psychological Association.
Jason Borkowski, Senior Manager of Facility Solutions at Staples, provides guidance on key workplace safety habits for facilities workers.
Take Training and Safety Talks Seriously
Good habits can slip over time, Borkowski warns, so training sessions and safety talks should occur both when people start and at regular intervals afterward. Some companies time training refreshes ahead of challenging weather seasons, such as when winter weather is drawing closer. Of course, when regulations or guidelines change, you should promptly arrange for related training.
The easier it is to set up training sessions, the more frequently you are likely to do it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website is a go-to resource for online training or real-world sessions offered around the country. Your safety equipment vendor may also be able to connect you with training through the manufacturer of the supplies you purchase. If your salesperson does not offer to make this introduction, ask for it.
Ask the Right Equipment Questions
The lowest priced safety product may actually be the most expensive in the long run, if your staff doesn’t use it or wear it — for example, because it’s uncomfortable — and, in addition, your company is out of compliance.
“Upfront cost should not be the way you evaluate a product’s overall benefit,” Borkowski explains. “Ask probing questions of your salespeople about what products are the most likely to have good compliance with your team.”
Borkowski also suggests inquiring about whether there have been any complaints with the product you are considering. This time and effort are well worth the investment to prevent injuries and maximize workplace safety. Furthermore, fines for noncompliance can be tens of thousands of dollars, and lawsuits can cost even more.
“Companies that are truly committed to workplace safety will invest in quality equipment that employees want to use,” he says. Team members will be less likely to wear safety glasses or other products if they’re uncomfortable or distracting. To improve compliance, “it’s a good idea to let workers test options from your safety equipment suppliers to see what they like best.”
Even the best trained and equipped team needs to be monitored to ensure that workers are wearing what they should be.
“Very frequently, no one is verifying that equipment is being worn, and worn properly. That happens more often than you’d think,” Borkowski explains.
Likewise, your team needs to keep its finger on the pulse of the latest safety requirements. A basic best practice, according to Borkowski, is staying on top of what is required by subscribing to OSHA updates based on your industry or specialty. You can also hire a risk consultant to establish guidelines for the positions on your team.
Display Your Safety Management Success
Providing the right tools, equipment and training are the keys to excellent safety management. Continue to build momentum for strong safety practices by posting a sign in your office or department area that shows how many days it has been since a facilities workplace incident. The higher that number goes, the more motivated your team will be to maintain a high safety standard. Consider reminder signage and floor matting that keep employees' attention on safe workplace practices.
“When employees see that over a year has gone by since an injury or safety incident, they also might feel more confident that the company takes their safety seriously,” Borkowski says. That can help with retention — and it may make it easier to recruit new employees as well.
Your vigilance in protecting your facilities team can pay off in greater overall safety for the entire organization. By keeping your facilities workers safe, you increase the overall safety of your company — and help support its streamlined operations and success.