Since there are too many health and safety issues in the workplace for employees to deal with on their own, regulatory bodies responsible for occupational health and safety regulations operate in every country.  Thoughtfully and well-crafted health and safety at work regulations not only protect employees but also encourage employers to safeguard the well-being and financial health of the workplace. Effective health and security at work plans offer benefits in terms of preventing both time and money loss for both employers and employees, as well as in workplace injury prevention. The success of an occupational health and safety program is only possible with the effective participation of top management and employees.

Health and security at work is crucial because it is a practice that every business will benefit from when given due attention.

What is Health and Safety in The Workplace?

Preventing illness, injury, and crime is always a challenging task for businesses.  In the event of an outbreak of disease within the workplace or if a newly implemented technology increases workplace accidents, the priorities of the business will change dramatically.  In this context, workplace health and safety are concerned with managing risks to a reasonable level to protect both employees and the business.

Why is it Important?

Workplace health and safety are important for the following reasons:

  • An effective health and safety plan ensures that employees return home safely and in good health at the end of the workday.
  • Protecting employees reduces absenteeism and makes the workplace more efficient and productive.
  • Reduced downtime due to illness and accidents translates to cost savings for businesses.
  • In some countries, health and safety regulations have the force of criminal law and compliance is legally mandatory.
  • Sustainability and corporate social responsibility, which include protecting employees, are important for all stakeholders.
  • A good health and safety record provides a competitive advantage, enhances the business’s reputation and brand value, and can help attract top talent. Conversely, poor health and safety performance directly impacts profitability and leads to financial losses.
  • Prioritizing workplace health and safety programs demonstrates that employees are valued. When candidates and employees feel valued, they are more likely to sign contracts with the current workplace or continue working there in the long term.

Having good workplace health and safety benefits the business and society as a whole in the long run.

What You Can Do

In the above text, we tried to explain why health and security at work are important.  So, what can be done to prioritize them in a business?

The support and ownership of top management greatly increases the likelihood of success of health and safety programs. Always involve top management in the process.

Engaging top management buy-in cascades health and safety practices from top to bottom. Training programs, on the other hand, are where you develop best practices from bottom to top. Conduct training sessions and annual review meetings in the workplace for each employee. If possible, conduct training sessions for small, specific groups. Combining all departments may not yield efficient results as each department may have different health and safety concerns.

Training should be supported by comprehensive written policies that cover all concerns of the business and employees. Clearly documented procedures ensure that everyone knows how to respond to safety and security incidents. Policies should include who is responsible for the implementation of procedures such as health and safety inspections and emergency interventions.  In this way, while the employees regain their health as soon as possible, the financial health of the enterprise is also protected.

Before purchasing new equipment, evaluate the existing health and safety program to see which tasks can be facilitated by new technologies. After purchasing new equipment, employees should be trained on its use through a training program.

Starting a Health and Safety Plan

Organizations like OSHA, which develop safety standards, recommend programs for workplace health and safety. Since every business will have its unique structure and concerns, it is important to use these recommendations as a guide to create a health and safety plan tailored to your own business.  When creating this plan, aiming for a flawless and complete program is somewhat unrealistic.  Instead, focus on the core elements, introduce them, and build your plan step by step on this foundation.

Effective health and safety programs should not just be documents; they should be successfully integrated into the cultural understanding of the business and become an indispensable part of the work environment.

Key Components of a Health and Safety Plan

To create a workplace health and safety program, consider the following:

  • Identify safety and health as a core value of your business and communicate to your employees that you need to work together to identify and rectify hazards that could result in injuries or illnesses.
  • Model safe behaviors and make safety a part of your conversations with employees.
  • Develop a procedure for employees to report injuries, illnesses, near misses, potential hazards, or safety and health concerns.
  • Provide training to your employees on how to identify and control hazards in the workplace.
  • Conduct inspections in the workplace with employees to identify changing conditions or activities that could jeopardize safety.
  • Solicit input from employees on how improvements can be made in the workplace and follow up on their suggestions.
  • Identify potential emergency scenarios and develop instructions on how to respond in each situation.
  • Consult with your employees before making significant changes in the workplace to identify potential safety or health issues.
  • Dedicate time to identifying ways to improve the program and engage in discussions.
Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin has been working as the General Coordinator at Ergin Makina since 2005.