Making Employee Health and Safety a Priority

Employers will agree that their employees’ health and safety are priorities, but just how is that manifested in the company culture? In other words, they often “talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?” Ensuring that employee healthand safety are reflected throughout all company departments, functions and programs, from the company policy manual to skill training, is key to “walking the walk.” Here are a few thoughts regarding an overall wellness strategy.
Company policies— Clearly state the employer’s philosophy and programs, including safety and those that are regulated or mandated by governmental agencies, regarding all work related functions. Safety and wellness policies include, but aren’t limited to, personal and company safety practices, drug-free workplace, tobacco use, employee health, etc.
Functional procedures – Outline the steps needed to accomplish various occupational tasks. They are especially important for functions that may occur infrequently, such as responding to an accident or emergency. Some functions are applicable to management but others are applicable to all employees. For example, management may oversee the company safety program, but all employees are responsible for ensuring safe conditions exist.
Job descriptions— State the specific responsibilities of the employee which should include health and safety elements.
Job standards— Provide clear and measurable standards of job performance that are usually tied into employee evaluations and pay raises. Including health and safety standards, clearly makes this a responsibility of all employees.
Training— Educate your staff on how to perform their jobs and convey the employer’s expectations. Supervisory skill training is an essential proficiency for your front line managers. Don’t forget drug free workplace education and training for supervisors and employees.

Mentoring and job coaching— Meet occasionally with the employee during or apart from job performance to discuss progress, identify performance success and opportunities, set goals, and reinforce company expectations.
Employee participation— Allow employees to provide feedback on various work functions and procedures. Allow them to identify safety and health concerns, new and existing programs, and potentially identify cost-saving measures. This helps employees to feel empowered which improves productivity.
Healthy lifestyle promotion— Promote health among your staff, because it can go a long way to reducing operating costs, especially sick days and down time, and improving productivity. Use of illicit drugs (such as marijuana), abuse of prescription drugs, and heavy and binge drinking all affect the workplace. Studies have
shown that employers can positively affect employees’ off-work use of drugs and alcohol by promoting a healthy lifestyle as a critical factor in positive work performance.
Another equally important aspect includes healthy eating, exercise and weight loss. These can improve health and mental attitude and reduce injuries and stress while enhancing productivity and morale. Furthermore, if the employer contributes to a health care plan, it can help to reduce health claims, thereby keeping costs down.
Finally, remember— Work toward your company employee relations goal with a plan! A healthy workplace “makeover” may take some time to transition.
The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance

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