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How to make employees feel safe at work

7/18/2022

Worker with hard hat

Employees want to feel valued. They want to be understood. And they need to feel heard at work. These are all things that can ensure an employee is happy and willing to continue working at a particular job. But at a base level, employees need to feel safe. Without safety at work, none of those other things matter.

The AlertMedia 2022 State of Employee Safety Report shows that 90% of workers believe their organization has a duty of care to keep them safe at work. Nearly all workers believe it's important to feel safe, and yet only around half of workers feel their safety is important to their employers.

A safe workplace can mean different things to different people. There is physical safety, which could mean something like having security at the entrances of the building. There's also psychological safety, meaning they feel like they can address personal issues and concerns with human resources. These are broad examples, but both forms of safety are necessary in the modern workplace.
How can you make sure you're facilitating a safe workplace as a manager or business owner? The following points should help.

Communicate
It may sound simple, but in order to make sure employees feel safe at work, you should start by asking them what would help them feel that way. Do they have concerns that should be addressed? Are there things that could be improved upon? And what does a safe workplace mean to them? You may find out some things that you didn't know about that need to be resolved. 

The employee safety report showed that 39% of respondents wished that employers communicated more regularly. Transparency is key here. If there are incidents being swept under the rug and murmurs trickling through the office, employees will feel like they're being left in the dark – not the most safe place to be.

Additionally, if there are any safety concerns in the workplace, it's better practice to inform your employees – preferably in conjunction with what the company is doing to fix it.

Training
The same report showed 30% of employees wished their employers offered better safety training. People may think they know what to do in case of an emergency, but if there isn't a structured plan in place, it's not likely true. For the best results in an emergency situation, people will know exactly what they need to do and everyone will be informed. This takes more than just a quick orientation, however. This should be regularly practiced and tested to ensure everyone knows what to do.

Abide by legal guidelines
If an employee feels they are in a hazardous situation, they may refuse work, per OSHA. As a leader, you should make your employees aware of this. The last thing you want is them to engage in work that they know is dangerous but feel afraid to speak out about.

You'll also want to make sure they can disclose information privately and can sign off on it. This provides them a way to remove themselves from unsafe situations, both physical and psychological.

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