In potentially hazardous industries, such as mining and manufacturing, or other dangerous work environments, a focus on safety and safe equipment can help boost employee morale and reduce employee turnover.
What is occupational health and safety?
Occupational health and safety is concerned with the overall well-being of employees and promotes a healthy, safe and productive workplace. In the United States, occupational health is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which develops standards around personal protective equipment (PPE), material handling, hazard communication, and more.
To protect their workforce, many workplaces focus on putting specific safety regulations in place and training their employees to respond effectively in the case of an emergency. However, in some cases, training and procedures are not always enough to ensure employees feel safe at work.
What factors affect safety and turnover?
In a recent study on occupational health and employee turnover in Ghanaian mines, it was shown that reduced safety leadership, supervision, safety procedures, safety facilities, and equipment were all negatively correlated with turnover intention. This meant that as the quality of safety leadership increased, the desire to leave the workforce lessened.
It was hypothesized that this is because the perception of the safety of a workplace, which is likely based directly on the working environment, tends to affect the turnover intentions of the workforce. So it comes as no surprise that employees who feel safer while working—regardless of their leadership, supervision, or knowledge of safety procedures—tend to be more satisfied at work and are less likely to quit their jobs.
Although proper training and adherence to safety procedures are important in reducing the occurrence of safety incidents, properly maintained safety facilities and equipment are even more important for maintaining employee satisfaction and reducing turnover. However costly maintaining or replacing facilities and equipment may seem, it can actually reduce the cost and time associated with hiring and training employees to replace those lost to turnover.
How to ensure equipment safety and reduce turnover
Because safety facilities and equipment can directly affect employee turnover, it is important to ensure all equipment is properly maintained and all concerns involving equipment safety are taken seriously. To do this, inspections and maintenance should be scheduled regularly and performed on time, at a minimum, as per manufacturer suggestions. However, a more targeted approach may include buying new equipment that is fully functional, free of damages, and up to date on the newest safety practices.
It is also important for all necessary PPE (hearing protection, gloves, etc.) and auxiliary safety equipment (fire extinguishers, eye wash stations, etc.) to be easily accessible.
Additionally, it may be useful to engage in regular conversations about safety with employees and make the scheduling of maintenance tasks and inspections transparent for the workforce. If employees are aware that proper measures are being taken to ensure workplace safety, they may feel more comfortable and safe while working.
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