Whenever a workplace presents significant safety hazards, you must learn to strike a delicate balance between keeping employees safe and getting the job done quickly.
Yet, achieving robust workplace safety and maximizing efficiency don’t have to be opposing goals. Instead of viewing safety and speed as contrasting, view them as complementary. When you properly invest in the right safety solutions, the speed and efficiency of your workforce increase congruently.
Remember: Unsafe is slow, and safety is speed.
So how do you achieve workplace safety while not hampering the speed of your processes? Here are a few principles to keep in mind:
Understand Your Need For Speed
There are two main sources of pressure for a more efficient workplace, and it’s critical that you understand both of them and their potential impact on your employee safety.
Job completion: When employees find a particular safety task to be tedious or time-consuming, they’re more likely to take shortcuts when it comes to using the proper equipment. Even when top management exerts no pressure to complete the job faster, employees still may put themselves at risk in order to avoid a dreaded task.
Throughput pressures: The desire for faster throughput is the more common pressure put on your employees to take workplace safety shortcuts. This pressure usually comes from upper or middle management who often turn a blind eye to internal safety violations as long as employees are getting tasks done quickly and efficiently.
Unless you address both of these pressures for greater working speed, your safety solutions are bound to fail when it comes to integrating safety and speed at your facility.
Strive For “Safe” Over “Expensive”
When it comes to choosing a safety solution for their work site or facility, too many safety managers simply select the most expensive option, believing it to be the safest or sturdiest piece of equipment. But just because a particular safety solution has a higher price tag doesn’t mean it’s well fit for your specific site.
The best safety solutions are custom-engineered to fit your precise circumstances. By creating a custom solution – instead of just a needlessly expensive one – you minimize the hazards your employees face while also keeping them working efficiently.
Make Safety Equipment Passive
When integrating workplace safety and speed, you need to employ as many passive safety solutions as possible. Passive equipment minimizes harm with as little employee intervention as possible, so employees can’t take safety shortcuts while completing a task.
The best passive solutions address the three main areas of workplace hazards: slips, trips and falls.
- Slips – When an employee falls from a standing position to their same working level
- Trips – When a foreign object is in the way and presents the possibility of a fall
- Falls – When an employee falls from a higher elevation of a work site to a substantially lower elevation
The perfect safety equipment prevents slips, trips and falls in a way that doesn’t require active employee intervention. This enables your employees to focus on completing the task at hand quickly without having to worry about safety.
Keep It Simple
While not all safety solutions can be passive, the ones that do require active operation should be kept as simple and intuitive as possible. When a safety solution is naturally ergonomic and user-friendly, employees are more likely to use the fall prevention equipment properly and not shortcut the process.
Solutions that require continual adjustment or resetting not only slow down your team but they also tempt them to skip the needed steps to adjust or reset the equipment. On the other hand, a simple solution that doesn’t need continual adjustment keeps your people and profits moving efficiently.
For example, when employees need to access the top of a truck, it’s better to use a safety enclosure for the entire top of the vehicle that also provides a walk surface with slip-resistant footing. In far too many cases, companies use a gangway and cage solution that requires perfect truck spotting, and if multiple hatches must be accessed, the gangway must be withdrawn, shifted and then re-extended for access to each new hatch. Not only does a solution like this slow down your workforce, but it also tempts them to lift away the safety cage and endanger themselves while trying to get the task done faster.
In the end, you don’t need to sacrifice safety in order to achieve better throughput or workplace efficiency. Rather, employ the right workplace safety solutions to perfectly align safety and speed.
Have your employees been overlooking the critical safety practice of truck spotting? Click below to download a tip sheet from Carbis Solutions and discover how to harness this human element for safer truck loading and unloading.