Nurturing Well-Being and Safety Culture

Nearly 3 million workplace injuries occurred in 2022 alone, highlighting a growing need to address safety concerns. But workplace safety isn’t just about addressing individual areas of risk. It’s about creating a culture of safety and well-being where employees are able to thrive — physically, as well as mentally. 

Promoting Workplace Safety

HR professionals play a pivotal role in the formation of a culture of employee well-being. By setting safety standards and providing support for each employee, you’ll be able to create a work environment that keeps your employees safe and engaged throughout their tenure. Here are some tips and best practices for workplace safety.

Provide Regular Safety Training

Many workplaces make safety training a part of the onboarding and training process. But it’s important to provide a refresher training session at regular intervals. Doing so will reinforce previous lessons and procedures, as well as orient employees to new equipment or risks within the workplace.

Providing safety training can also be an excellent way to remind workers of the support your company offers. This includes assistance with safety training and protective equipment but can also extend to support for mental health. 

Employees should have a clear understanding of whom to turn to if they require support, and your organization should ensure the process is both simple and confidential. Leveraging your intranet to send workplace safety communications is a great way you can consistently foster a culture of safety.

Keep Accurate Records

Depending on your industry, some workers may be required to maintain certain safety certifications. 

Keeping records of these certifications and employees will provide a workplace safety audit trail that aids with compliance standards. Leveraging technology will help you centralize your record-keeping and make well-informed decisions about your company’s future.

It’s equally important to keep records of any safety issues or incidents that occur within the workplace. These records should include the date, nature of the incident, parties involved, and your company’s response. For good hygiene, it’s recommended you keep those records separate from the personnel file, as they may contain confidential information.

Maintaining records properly can protect you in the event of litigation, as well as help you refine your safety policies and procedures moving forward.

Take Small Steps to Improve Workplace Safety

Workplace safety doesn’t always have to mean formal training programs. After all, ergonomic injuries account for 33% of all workplace injuries. These injuries aren’t always immediate but develop over time.

You can reduce the incidence of such injuries by adopting a set of small practices to improve your workplace culture. 

Ergonomically designed office furniture, for example, can minimize back strain and the incidence of repetitive stress disorder. Additionally, encouraging workers to take frequent breaks can reduce fatigue and injuries resulting from sedentary conditions. 

Engage Workers in Safety Decisions

Chances are that your workers will have a greater understanding of workplace safety than HR or management. That’s why it often helps to get feedback from the “boots on the ground,” who can provide insight into areas you may not have previously considered.

You can solicit feedback by talking to workers directly or conducting regular workplace safety surveys. You can ask questions related to workplace hazards, the availability of PPE, and open-ended questions about how to improve the safety of your organization. At the very least, your employees will feel heard and valued for their contributions.

Engaging Workers About Mental Health

Physical safety is an important issue. But how can HR teams engage team members about mental health concerns? Here are a few of today’s best practices.

Raise Awareness About Mental Health

According to a 2023 study from the American Psychological Association, 92% of American workers say that it is “very important” to work for an organization that “values their emotional and psychological well-being.” 

HR teams can work to promote mental health awareness through educational programs and periodic reminders regarding company-sponsored mental health support.

Some organizations go one step further by offering meditation or mindfulness sessions to help workers become more “centered.” But even just having a regular public conversation about the issue can end the stigma and help employees tap into the support they need. Training your managers to respond appropriately when an employee addresses a mental health concern is also important, not just from a compliance perspective, but a culture perspective as well.

Promote Work-Life Balance

American workers came to love remote work during the pandemic, and hybrid work options remain the norm for many workers across the United States. Remote work can help workers attain the coveted work-life balance, which can improve their mental health overall and help them feel more engaged, whether at their desks or working from home.

Remote work isn’t the only path to work/life balance, though. Companies can encourage flexible time off or even pay employees who choose to participate in community volunteer programs. Encouraging time away can often improve engagement and mental health.

Respond to Mental Health Disclosures

While HR staff members are not trained counselors, employees might choose to disclose their mental health concerns to them or request accommodation and support.  

HR managers and team members can respond with empathy, confidentiality, and a listening ear — though it’s also important to set clear boundaries on this topic and avoid overpromising a simple solution.

From there, you can direct the team member to the appropriate mental health resource. HR team members may continue to play a role in helping the team member adjust to the workplace and can help the employee take advantage of PTO, sick days, or other options as needed. It’s possible ADA accommodations might be appropriate, depending on the circumstance and the size of your organization.

Take a Proactive Approach

By taking a proactive approach to workplace safety, you’ll reduce workplace accidents as well as help your workers stay motivated and engaged. Don’t wait for your next workplace incident — get started today by implementing these safety and wellness tips.