The Importance of Safety in the Workplace

Making Safety the #1 Priority

Whether you are a business owner, human resource manager, safety officer or other business professional tasked with safeguarding your company’s most important assets (human capital), I am sure that you have experienced a great deal of thought and stress over how to protect them, while also preventing unnecessary costs to the business. This process truly doesn’t have to be as daunting as a task as you may currently feel it to be. All it takes for success is understanding the main reasons for why safety should be a main concern, implementing OSHA rules, creating a culture of safety, making sure to enforce the rules, staying on top of investigating all accidents and then understanding why certain safety and health hazards can damage your business and reputation.

#1 Legal Compliance

  • Safety is the law
  • Employers can be fined for not following the law
  • A company is subject to an inspection at any time

#2 Employee Protection

  • Employees are a company’s #1 asset
  • A safe work environment is expected from all employees
  • Employees should not have to worry about being hurt or killed

#3 Cost Savings

  • Fewer workers’ compensation claims, disability payments and lawsuits
  • Less sick leave
  • Decreased time lost for replacing employees who are injured or killed

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is responsible for developing and enforcing mandatory safety and health standards for all jobs in the private and public sectors. OSHA has the right to conduct inspections, issue citations and fine companies for not following these standards. These standards involve protective clothing, safe machinery and equipment, first aid and administrative duties such as hanging posters and submitting injury reports each year.

Safety and Fitness-for-Duty Tests Interviews

  • Ask behavioral safety related questions during new candidate interviews to get a feel for an accident-prone person
  • Require pre-hire physical exams
  • Conduct ongoing fitness-for-duty evaluations on current employees

Supervisor’s Key Roles

  • Continuously communicate the need for safety to all employees
  • Explain the reasons for using protective clothing and materials, proper work procedures, and always being aware of safety hazards
  • Reinforce best safety practices and immediately correct unsafe behaviors

Proactive Safety Training Programs

  • Create a safety program that uses different types of media such as courses, interactive games and printed/audiovisual material
  • Obtain ideas from employees on the best design for a safety program
  • Empower employees with a sense of ownership in promoting safety

Safety rules can only be enforced once a company has implemented an efficient safety program, conducted training to all employees, installed warning signs, and provided employees with all appropriate safety equipment necessary to remain safe while performing their jobs

  • Investigate
  • Implement Corrections
  • Rearrange workstations
  • Install safety guards or controls
  • Conduct additional safety training
  • Record and Report

There are many reasons for safety to be made a top priority in any business. By understanding the main 3 reasons for making safety a priority and implementing OSHA standards, a company can do a lot to create a great safety culture by engaging all employees in the importance of being safe, enforcing the rules and continuously recognize safety, health hazards and related issues.

A healthy employee is a happy employee.

Originally published at on February 2, 2020.

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Heidi Alexander

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