By Louise Woodburn, General Manager of KBC Risk Solutions, a Division of KBC Health & Safety
Globally, 2.78 million workers die every year in occupational accidents, while 374 million suffer from non-fatal accidents on the job. With workplace incidents regularly making headline news, organisations can no longer downplay their occupational health and safety responsibilities. Not only do these incidents negatively affect the reputation of the business for years to come but also their ability to apply for funding, contracts, or tenders (the internet never forgets). Workplace safety must be prioritised. The safety and well-being of employees ensure a healthy and productive workforce while helping to protect businesses from costly lawsuits, damaged reputations, and downtime. However, establishing a culture of safety and shifting the perception of risk is not always easy. Many businesses struggle to implement effective safety measures that protect their employees and their bottom line, but this is where Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) service providers can help businesses to flip the script. OHS service providers can be instrumental in establishing a culture of safety by enabling business leaders to prioritise employee health and safety and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to create a safer, healthier workplace.
Clearing up white collar misconceptions
There are several common misconceptions that businesses may have about health and safety regulations from a white-collar perspective. One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that workplace safety regulations only apply to high-risk industries like construction or mining and that office-based businesses are exempt from these regulations. Another misconception is that implementing safety measures will be too expensive and time-consuming and will negatively impact productivity. Some businesses may also believe that safety regulations are unnecessary or overly burdensome and that they can rely on common sense or personal responsibility to keep employees safe. Finally, some businesses may mistakenly believe that safety regulations are purely a legal requirement and fail to recognise the value of safety in promoting employee well-being, job satisfaction, and retention.
Putting safety at the top of the agenda
Partnering with a health and safety partner is one of the clearest indications that an organisation is committed to employee wellbeing. It is an effective means for organisations to step up their safety focus to achieve compliance and improve their health and safety records. Using an OHS service provider that delivers customised, highly-relevant training programmes tailored to the specific needs of the business, leadership can ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their jobs safely. OHS service providers also provide a fresh perspective, by helping businesses to identify and mitigate potential hazards in the workplace, such as ergonomic issues, hazardous materials, or electrical hazards. By addressing these issues proactively, businesses can reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries occurring and can create a safer work environment for their employees.
The benefits of an employer that cares
In addition to helping companies achieve compliance and reduce risk, partnering with a training provider can also improve the health and safety record of the business by promoting a culture of safety. OHS service providers can work with employees to develop safety policies and procedures (collaboration is important to create a sense of ownership) while communicating these policies effectively to employees. In achieving a safety-first mindset among its workforce by prioritising employee health and safety, businesses can increase employee satisfaction and retention, and reduce absenteeism and healthcare costs, while enhancing their reputation as responsible and caring employers.
Safety first, results follow
Selecting the right OHS service provider to partner with is essential to ensure that businesses receive the necessary training, support, and motivation to establish a culture of safety in their workplace. To make the right decision, businesses must consider the following factors:
- Customisation: The OHS service provider should offer customised training programmes that are tailored to the specific needs and requirements of the business. One-size-fits-all training programmes will not be effective, and a good OHS service provider will work with businesses to develop a training programme that is relevant to their specific needs.
- Expertise: The OHS service provider must have the necessary expertise and experience in delivering safety training programmes in the industry relevant to the business. They must have qualified instructors who are knowledgeable and experienced in their field, and who can provide guidance and support to employees as needed.
- Relevance: Safety regulations and best practices in South Africa are constantly updated. The OHS provider must be on top of these updates and their training programmes should reflect this.
- Feedback: The OHS service provider must be willing to listen to feedback from businesses and adapt their training programmes accordingly. Businesses must look for a training provider who is responsive and willing to work collaboratively to ensure that their training programmes are effective, and open communication must always be a top priority.
- Results: Finally, businesses should evaluate the effectiveness of the OHS service provider by measuring the results of their training programmes. This could take the form of tracking injury rates, considering employee feedback, or looking into other metrics that demonstrate the impact of training on employee behaviour and workplace safety.
Taking responsibility for safety
By partnering with a dedicated, expert OHS service provider, companies acknowledge that safety is an issue that is bigger than the business itself. As such, it is necessary to give it due respect by letting the professionals handle it. In allowing a specialist OHS service provider to handle occupational health and safety training and compliance, businesses ensure that they are always up to date on the latest safety regulations and best practices, and rest assured that their safety procedures are in line with industry standards. Organisations will know that they have chosen the right OHS service provider, because such a service provider will simplify safety procedures, effectively communicate the importance of a safety-first culture, and obtain buy-in and commitment from employees at every level. In short, with the right OH partner, safety will make sense.