A safe working environment is the backbone of any successful organization. It helps employees feel secure and provides them with a platform to work at their best.
Creating a safe workplace is a comprehensive and continual mission, but it all starts out in the employee handbook. This key document is the glue that holds together all your safety efforts in the workplace and should address several workplace safety factors.
What Is An Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document handed to new workers on their first day, detailing everything from behavioral standards to leave policies.
Essentially, the employee handbook acts as a guideline for appropriate employee conduct and also sets out the employer’s legal obligations to their workforce. It contains information about standardized procedures that help organizations to run smoothly and efficiently.
Beyond that, though, the employee handbook is an important bridge between the employer and employee. By putting the workers’ rights in writing, employees can feel happier and more secure in their roles.
One major component of any employee handbook is safety. A clear and easy-to-understand safety section in your organization’s employee handbook can help to mitigate health risks and promote a more positive working environment.
What Is Included In The Safety Section Of An Employee Handbook?
The safety section of an employee handbook should express the company’s aims and objectives for workplace safety, its organization of health and safety issues in terms of personnel, and its ongoing risk management arrangements.
Specific procedures mentioned will be dependent on the type of work. Some may include but are not limited to:
- Report systems for health incidents
- Emergency operations such as fire drills
- Use of Personal Protective Equipment where appropriate
- First-aid procedures
- Smoking policy
- Employee welfare issues
For each scenario, the employee handbook should clearly set out how employees should act to minimize risks. The handbook should also detail the employer’s ongoing commitment to creating a safe working environment, such as through the provision of relevant health and safety training to employees.
The Benefits Of Having A Clear Safety Procedure In The Employee Handbook
Having a clear safety policy is positive for the employee as well as the employer. It not only helps to reduce accidents but can also create a more productive working environment.
Read on for the two reasons why you should be paying more attention to the health and safety practices in your employee handbook.
You Reduce Work-Related Accidents
When all employees know how to behave in the safest possible manner, injuries at work inevitably decline.
This works in two ways. Firstly, the prevention of accidents. By adhering to health and safety regulations at all times, workers can stop potential accidents from ever occurring.
For instance, if employees only smoke outside in the designated smoking area, the risk of a smoking-related fire in the workplace is eliminated. Similarly, if corridors and passages are kept clear of debris at all times, workers won’t suffer from falls that could have been avoided.
Secondly, the employee handbook can explain how to mitigate risks that cannot be eliminated entirely. Many workplace practices carry some element of harm, but with cautious behavior, this can be kept to a minimum.
For example, any employees working with heavy machinery or potentially hazardous substances must receive the relevant training and be provided with appropriate health and safety equipment. Similarly, employees should be well informed of the evacuation procedure in the event of a fire.
By educating employees about risk prevention and mitigation through the employee handbook, injuries can be reduced, medical and legal expenses can be avoided and business reputations can be protected.
Better Safety Can Improve Productivity
A safe working environment is a happier and more productive working environment.
The employee handbook is a way for employers to show that the health and safety of their workforce matter beyond the contents of resumes and workload. It not only contains guidelines for employee conduct; it demonstrates the steps that employees are actively taking to keep everybody safe.
For instance, this could be through a right to provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for any potentially harmful working procedures.
Many employee handbooks will also stipulate the employer’s obligation to offer support for an employee’s welfare, which may account for issues such as mental health.
Ultimately, such conditions within the safety section of the employee handbook help staff to feel more valued and secure in the workplace. Healthy employees report fewer absences, stay at their company for longer, and are more efficient workers.
This can only be a good thing for employers.
Whilst employee handbooks are not a legal requirement for organizations, they form the basis for good internal business practices.
Safety is a key part of these documents. By outlining risk management processes, and the obligations of both employer and employee to follow these, everyone in the organization can feel safe and focus more effectively on their work.