Employee health and safety has taken on a new focus and meaning in the wake of COVID-19. For owners and managers in the freight and warehousing industries, it’s more important than ever to instill consistent safety practices that offer employees the sense that their workplace does everything it can to keep them safe.

Creating a culture and environment of safety means taking on a multi-faceted approach towards employee well-being. From ongoing training to engaging employees with the tech and strategies they need to make the job safer, here’s how you can create a comprehensive safety strategy.

1. Training

Every multi-faceted safety approach should begin with training. Safety training is too important to neglect, and ongoing training in procedures like forklift operation has been shown to increase the safety and productivity of a workplace. By expanding the safety training available to employees and consistently offering refresher courses, you can improve your overall safety outcomes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety requirements dictate that workers must complete a range of training modules every year. Complying with these standards means exposing employees to information that covers every topic from asbestos to respiratory protection. But you shouldn’t just be satisfied with the bare minimum.

By consistently reassessing your training endeavors and opening them up to employee feedback, you can create more effective training programs that your employees find directly applicable.

2. Environmental Awareness

Next, your safety approach needs to develop a strict focus on environmental awareness. This doesn’t just mean the impacts that your business processes have on the environment but the effects of the environment on the safety of your workers.

For example, the main risks of working outdoors in the winter include falls, frostbite, and hypothermia. To mitigate these risks, you need to have a plan in place for addressing any type of environmental hazard that may come your way.

With climate disasters raging all the time, causing massive winter storms in Texas and blistering heat waves across the western United States, your multifaceted safety approach must prepare workers with the PPE, shelter, and procedures they need to stay safe and healthy.

3. Hazard Communication

To promote greater safety standards in real-time, you need methods in place for effective hazard communication. By communicating the presence of workplace hazards, you maintain a safer environment and promote greater alertness across your workforce.

Fortunately, workplace hazard communication can be made simpler and more effective with the help of modern technology. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and monitors fed to a  comprehensive Safety Management System (SMS) can all help safety managers monitor safety concerns in real-time.

These tools, in combination with industry standards, can streamline your approach to hazard communication. Ensure you maintain the proper labeling and signage, employee training, and accessibility considerations, then apply modern tech for greater success.

4. Risk Analysis

No multifaceted approach to employee safety will be complete without comprehensive and ongoing risk analysis. Unfortunately, accidents can take a wide variety of forms and if you’re not considering everything from biological and chemical hazards to ergonomic concerns, your safety approach will be incomplete.

Conducting a thorough risk analysis means considering every potential avenue for concern and ensuring that employees are protected properly. For example, the CDC reports that 2,000 workers sustain an eye injury every day and yet many safety managers may fail to recognize the potential for eye-related accidents in any industrial environment.

From shifting dust particles to chemical spills, make a point to address every possible hazard.

5. Employee Engagement

Finally, a truly multi-faceted safety approach is one that actively engages your entire workforce. As just about anyone may tell you, intermittent safety training can be tedious. To keep employees focused and learning, they need to be involved in a dialogue and have room to address the concerns that they see on the job.

Streamline your safety approach with an open forum for safety suggestions and concerns. Your intermittent training and new safety standards should all include gathering employee feedback. Then, create a procedure for inviting employee suggestions and follow-up accident reporting with incentives.

By building in incentives to your accident reporting standards, you can maintain greater levels of accountability. However, this must be tailored to the workforce to avoid under-reporting. Individual rewards like cash or time-off incentives are often the most effective. Developing this program is another place employee engagement is vital, since you’ll need incentives that employees will actually want to work towards.

Securing Safety with a Multi-Faceted Approach

By following these strategies, you can implement and manage a multi-faceted approach to employee safety that both involves workers and improves safety outcomes through technology. As the world reels still from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety concerns it brought with it, engaging your workforce in a multi-faceted approach will help keep your efforts safe, your supply chain strong, and your business more productive.

Assess your operations now to explore where these tips can help you cultivate a safer workplace.

Indiana Lee, Contributing Writer