By Doug Wright
Business leaders have a responsibility to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of their employees, customers and visitors to their site.
Most businesses take a commonsense approach to workplace safety issues, where employees have an informal duty of care not to harm each other or themselves during the course of their duties. Commonsense is easy to apply when we think of tangible safety issues like keeping computer cords out of the way of foot traffic, but it isn’t so cut and dried when it comes to intangible safety issues like those environmental stressors that have an impact on our emotional and psychological health.
“Ensure that our mental health is included under the broad umbrella of workplace safety.”
Although, when we think of workplace safety, the first things that spring to mind are likely to be hard hats and hi-viz vests, or ergonomic office furniture and functional fire alarms. While precautions regarding physical health are an employer’s legal and moral requirement, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our mental health is included under the broad umbrella of workplace safety.
A holistic approach to physical and psychological wellbeing is now considered to be the best way to help employees and staff to function at their best. Most successful businesses nowadays do incorporate this holistic-style thinking into their safety risk management plans. After all, our mental health is intrinsically entwined with our physical health, and we perform best when we are well. When one aspect is jeopardised, the other is likely to follow.
Stressful working conditions have a negative effect on the employee’s ability to cope with their working day, which in turn can lead to increased absences, a decrease in productivity, a hostile environment and a considered lack of care when undertaking duties. Staff turnover may increase and the business will be compromised.
By recognising and finding solutions to prevent and reduce potential risk factors, we can improve working conditions and the quality of our employees’ overall health. And by pinpointing those risk factors early, we can prevent the problems that will invariably come when they begin to snowball.( It’s important to note that if one employee is feeling the strain, others will be too.) And once an employee with a health safety issue has been recognised, the previously identified risk factors and solutions will provide the basis of a plan tailored to the employee’s individual needs.
“Workplace safety is everybody’s business.”
This is why workplace safety is everybody’s business. It’s important that all staff, not just the leaders, buy in to the principles of holistic workplace safety and keep it at the forefront of all workplace practices.
This may include incorporating new ways of thinking into the organisation’s policies and practices. It will involve coming up with new ways to recognise risk factors, such as strained relationships between colleagues, workplace bullying, harassment or personal family problems which may have a detrimental effect on the employee’s work
It’s good planning to implement a regular workplace safety meeting, or encourage teams to make it an important part of the weekly agenda. Consider providing first aid training for staff so they are prepared to deal with emergency situations. Employees should also feel free to give feedback and come up with ways to improve workplace safety specific to the company’s needs.
“Safety practices should be ingrained in the culture.”
Safety practices and routines should not be considered an extra. Safety practices should be ingrained in the culture. It’s just as important to a successful business as customer service, inventory control, and financial planning. A commitment to health and safety makes good business sense because it’s the one way to protect your greatest resource – your people. When the health and safety of your employees is at a high level, the health of your organisation will be too.
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Doug Wright, is a transformed survivor of a head-on near death vehicle collision.
Passionate about helping people overcome their inner most fears, especially when recovering from trauma, Doug has survived to share his courageous story … his motto is “never give up”.
Away from his everyday activities, Doug invests his spare time playing his electric guitar, knocking out an eclectic mix of Eagles hits and fishing for coral trout in Airlee Beach, Northern Queensland.
The lesson is simple. Work hard at your dream and find others to support you. But always have a back-up dream… just in case.
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