20 Workplace Safety Rules and Tips To Know

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 5, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Safety rules exist in all work environments to keep both employees and the company safe. These regulations can help prevent and mitigate accidents and minimize risk, which in turn support employee well-being and workplace effectiveness. Learning why safety rules are in place and how to follow them can protect you and your coworkers from injuries that may happen at work.

In this article, we explain the importance of safety rules in the workplace, discuss some of the most common safety rules and provide tips for how you can maintain a safe work environment.

Why are workplace safety rules important?

Safety rules in the workplace are important because they protect employees, customers and the company's brand reputation. Enforcing safety rules can reduce on-the-job accidents and injuries and maximize productivity. Limiting risks can improve the work environment and job satisfaction of employees. Companies also benefit from a safe workplace because employees are more productive and customers may view the brand more positively.

Related: 10 Workplace Safety Tips Every Employee Should Know

20 most important safety rules in the workplace

Here are examples of safety rules in a workplace:

1. Follow the dress code

It is important to dress according to the workplace dress code. This may prohibit jewelry or open-toe shoes, for example. Often a workplace may require employees to wear specific footwear and long sleeves and pants in order to protect against common workplace accidents. Dress codes can promote professionalism and also help keep employees safe.

Related: How To Ask About Dress Code (With Tips for Your First Day)

2. Wear safety gear

Safety gear is necessary in labs, around machinery and on construction sites, for example. Companies include safety gear in the dress code when it is necessary for your job. Safety gear is a precaution against hazardous materials and potentially dangerous working conditions.

Related: Protective Gear for Construction Workers (With Examples)

3. Maintain personal hygiene

Maintain your personal hygiene, such as cleanliness, to help prevent illness at work. Good hygiene can also help promote health and self-esteem, which reduces risks.

4. Take responsibility for your personal safety

To take responsibility for your personal safety means ensuring that you follow safety procedures. If employees rely on themselves to keep the workplace safe, this can create a safe environment for all. Responsibility also prevents negligence, which can limit on-the-job accidents.

5. Maintain a clean workspace

It is important to keep your desk or other personal workspaces clean. Be sure to put away supplies when they are not in use. Gathering necessary materials before starting a task can help keep a clean workspace. Maintaining your work area promotes organization and attentiveness, both aspects of promoting safety in the workplace.

Related: How To Organize Your Office (With Instructions and Tips)

6. Follow work procedures

A company creates work procedures to help comply with safety protocols and best practices, so if you follow work procedures, safety standards are likely met. It is important to follow procedures even if you think performing a task differently might save time. Often there'll be an employee handbook or safety station where the company provides their work procedures.

7. Learn how to act in an emergency

Learn emergency protocols including where to go in case of a fire or during a natural disaster such as a tornado. Much like work procedures, companies design emergency protocols with strong consideration for safety regulations. Knowing where to go or how to behave during an emergency protects you as well as your coworkers.

Related: What Is an Emergency Action Plan? (With Tips)

8. Report accidents if they occur

Report accidents to the managers or other personnel when they occur. If you injure yourself or cause an accident, be sure to report it and follow procedure immediately to help reduce the risks of further harm or endangering coworkers. This helps to get proper treatment for your injury and addresses the possible causes of the incident to prevent it from happening again. It is important to follow company policy and report even minor incidents. Your employer may require a written report of the incident as well.

Related: How Does Workers' Comp Work? A Complete Guide

9. Report unsafe conditions

If you observe an unsafe practice or condition such as faulty equipment, it is helpful to report this so that personnel can address the situation and make corrections to prevent an incident. Unsafe conditions pose a threat to your coworkers and to you, so reporting a potentially dangerous situation is in the best interest of all employees. Consider marking any unsafe condition to protect others who may encounter it while you go to report it.

10. Lift objects carefully

Professionals advise lifting by squatting and using your knees when picking items up instead of bending at your waist because this can cause strain on your back and may result in injury. Use equipment if necessary or ask for help in lifting heavy items. Back pain is a common workplace injury that you can avoid with proper posture and using caution in actions that you often repeat at work, such as carrying materials.

11. Operate machinery that you are familiar with

Only operate machinery that employers authorize you to use. Some types of workplace equipment, such as forklifts, require training. Training can prevent misuse and provide proper safety knowledge and skill for machines. It is important to become familiar with all equipment that is in regular use at work.

Related: Heavy Equipment Operator Skills: Examples and How To Improve

12. Use break times

Taking breaks can maximize employee attentiveness because they are well-rested. Breaks provide other benefits, such as time to relax and reduce stress. During breaks, you may need to sit or stretch to maintain personal safety and prevent muscle injury.

13. Stay in your work zone

While working, try to stay in your designated work area. This allows you to be familiar with your surroundings and increases the likelihood that you understand the rules of conduct in the area. If you visit another working area, try to find a professional who can help you navigate the area so you are confident in your surroundings.

14. Stay alert and attentive

Being alert and attentive to your surroundings in a work environment helps identify risks. It is important to limit distractions as well and ensure you focus on tasks at work. Taking care to be mentally present while working helps you actively follow procedures and practice caution.

Related: Tips To Help You Focus When You're Distracted Easily at Work

15. Keep exits clear

Try to keep walkways clear and take care not to block exits. This prevents falls and helps people leave the room or building safely and quickly in the event of an emergency. In small spaces keeping walkways clear can be difficult but it may be useful to practice a walk-through to ensure that employees can maneuver safely around equipment.

16. Ask for help

If you require assistance, ask for help. This greatly reduces the risk of having an accident and helps foster a safe work environment by setting an example. Refer to company protocol when performing tasks or operating equipment, and if protocol suggests doing a task with another employee, do not attempt the task alone.

17. Use caution signs

Use caution signs when applicable. For example, wet floor signs prevent slips on a floor after you mop or after a spill. Areas at work may require barriers or signs when equipment such as forklifts are in use. Another example is road signs to notify drivers of workers or highway cleanup crews. It is important to place caution signs while working and read and obey caution signs placed by others.

Related: Guide to Safety Colors in the Workplace

18. Use proper equipment

Use the equipment a procedure recommends to help prevent an accident. Companies usually provide equipment to limit strain on employees and to comply with safety regulations. It is also important to learn how to operate any equipment that is available before using it for work.

19. Eat in designated areas

Employers sometimes restrict food and drink to specific areas at work to prevent spills, contamination and unsafe conditions. Having liquids around machines risks spills that can cause malfunctions, and eating where you work can cause contamination and possibly result in illness. If your workplace requests employees eat in a certain place or restrict food and drinks in a work environment, it is important to observe this rule.

20. Follow safety guides

Follow all safety guides put in place to protect you and your coworkers. Companies design safety rules to prevent incidents. Sometimes rules result from a previous accident which is why it is important to report your injuries as well as unsafe conditions. If you do not understand why a safety rule exists, you can ask your employer for clarification.

Related: Guide to Safety Responsibility in the Workplace (Plus Tips)

Tips for maintaining safety in the workplace

Safety is a primary concern in every workplace. Here are some tips to help maintain safety in your work environment:

Hold regular safety meetings

Safety meetings are a way to keep employees and coworkers informed on new safety procedures and provide training to maintain safe working conditions. Some companies host regular safety meetings to discuss incidents and reward cautious behaviors. This helps motivate employees and increase awareness. Regular meetings also help reinforce that safety is a top concern for the company.

Read more: 12 Workplace Safety Meeting Topics To Consider

Hire safety personnel

Safety officers or a safety director can help enforce safety regulations and prevent incidents in the workplace. Hiring safety personnel reduces risks a job or work environment may pose and provides an added safety precaution for employees. It is important for employees to take responsibility for their personal safety, and hiring a safety director to help assess a work environment and train employees on safe practices can also increase and maintain a safe workplace.

Related: How To Become a Safety Director

Treat all incidents seriously

It can be helpful to treat every incident of an unsafe condition or practice seriously to set precedent and encourage employees to use caution. This includes requiring reports of incidents and addressing any safety concerns, and training and informing employees of safety protocols. Drills can be useful to prepare employees for an incident and safety handbooks and meetings can help train employees as well.

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