Every employer is responsible for ensuring their staff are equipped with the necessary information and guidance to work safely – it’s a legal requirement. But while most businesses are meeting their legal requirements, some employees are actually putting themselves in danger at work by not following procedures properly. To be more specific, young people in particular are failing to take health and safety as seriously as they should be, with some having put themselves in danger by not following the correct procedures.
According to our recent survey of 2,000 employees, we found that 27% of 18 to 34-year-old workers have at some point put themselves at risk by not following their companies’ safety procedures. It’s alarming to think that over a quarter of employees have at some point knowingly put themselves in danger.
What is even more startling is that young workers are in fact more likely to read the health and safety guidelines they’re given, with 56% stating to have done so. When compared to older workers, only 30% of those aged between 45 to 64 admit they had read their operations manuals, yet just 8% have put themselves in danger by not correctly following instructions.
Not only this, but we identified that younger workers would not know how to appropriately deal with a hazardous situation if one should occur, despite reading their employee handbooks. In fact, a third of workers admit they would have no idea what to do if a hazard occurred, with only one in ten (11%) detailing that they would know where to find the appropriate information to deal with the situation. As a contrast, two thirds (67%) of older workers would know what to do in a dangerous situation.
So, why are some young workers not following health and safety procedures correctly?
Well, this could be down to older workers having more experience and knowledge of how to handle potential hazards or dangerous situations appropriately if they occur. And although younger workers are more likely to read their operations manuals, they may not be fully engaging with the vital information to actually put it into practice.
Understandably, it can be difficult for business owners to know whether employees have read their handbooks or fully understand the procedures. But this shouldn’t stop companies going above and beyond to engage and educate younger workers on their policies – organising frequent health and safety meetings or holding engaging group activities would be a good starting point.
Another way to help younger workers take note of safety procedures could be for businesses to digitise their health and safety documents. Doing so could play a pivotal role in reengaging young employees with their companies’ health and safety measures, as they would be readily available to review whenever necessary through their smartphones. Interestingly, our research found that two thirds of employees believe that a digital copy of their safety manuals would be more beneficial to themselves and their learning, as it would make accessing and reading documents easier.
For employers, digitising health and safety documents would provide a more cost effective and efficient solution compared to paper versions. Rather than needing to be printed off and distributed to all employees, they could be updated quickly when needed and sent digitally to the whole business, saving both time and money. But, the real benefit lies with how employers could use the digital manuals to monitor who has and hasn’t read them. If employees are not reading their health and safety instructions, business owners will be able to track this through digital signatures, allowing them to then take appropriate action. As many bosses will know, it’s extremely difficult to track this with paper-based documents.
The legal responsibility businesses have to ensure all their staff – young and old – are kept safe, means that bosses need to make sure that all workers understand the health and safety procedures and are following them correctly. Switching to a digital health and safety solution to help manage the process more effectively needn’t feel like a major step, given the increasingly tech-savvy world we’re currently living in. Making this change would allow for companies to become more efficient and help to keep young workers in particular engaged and operating safely.