When employees are out due to workplace injuries, it can significantly impact your business. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), businesses spend an estimated $170 billion dollars each year on costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. As a result, many employers have taken proactive measures to manage safety in the workplace, which according to the same OSHA findings, can reduce injuries by as much as 40 percent. Read on for a few tips to help you reduce the risk of injuries in your workplace, and establish a safety-first company culture.
1. Know the guidelines.
In 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act to improve and support worker and workplace safety. As part of its workplace safety guidelines, the act requires that employers:
- Provide a workplace free of serious hazards.
- Ensure employees have and use safe tools and equipment.
- Provide safety training in a language that workers can understand.
- Display OSHA or similar state plan posters that inform employees of rights afforded under the OSH Act.
- Maintain records of work-related injuries.
To make sure you’re in compliance with OSHA employer standards, talk with your workers’ compensation insurance carrier or contact your state OSHA representative for consultation services. Knowing the guidelines is a critical step in minimizing your financial risks as an employer and protecting your workers from avoidable injuries!
2. Create a safety program that includes wellness.
Being aware of OSHA guidelines is essential, but it doesn’t protect you and your workers entirely. It’s also important for you to promote a company culture that prioritizes and promotes both safety and wellness. And while there’s no question a safety program is paramount, you might wonder, “Is it necessary to include wellness training too?” While it’s not as fundamental as safety, it’s still essential. If employees take good care of themselves by getting enough sleep and eating right, they are less prone to injuries and illness. And, in the event they do get hurt, they may need less rehabilitation time if they’re generally in good health.
Reinforce these initiatives through regular employee communication and training. Here are some proactive steps you can take to establish a workplace culture that focuses on safety and wellness for your employees:
- Talk about it. This one’s simple, but make sure safety and wellness are consistently discussed in your organization. It should be a topic of focus, like any other core company value. You can even create a dedicated committee that meets regularly to discuss relevant safety and wellness issues, reported hazards and action items.
- Offer trainings. For ideas on topics to discuss, you can refer to OSHA, or consult with employees and managers on their concerns and then find applicable training to address those issues. These trainings don’t need to be long, either. In fact, you can even refer employees to YouTube safety training videos.
- Publish a newsletter. This can be a basic flyer that reviews company safety practices such as emergencies or evacuations. To engage employees, you can include a quiz or an interactive activity for them to complete.
- Get feedback. Whether it’s through an email, a comment box or via the safety newsletter, give employees a way to provide safety feedback and report hazards so they can be investigated and fixed.
- Seek third-party consultation. See if your workers’ compensation carrier has any safety consultants available to provide training on a particular safety topic as a subject matter expert.
3. Learn from accidents.
No matter how much you emphasize safety and incident prevention, accidents can happen. While you obviously want to avoid them, if they do happen, learn from mistakes to help you prevent similar incidents in the future. Also make sure your employees report incidents that cause injury, as well as “near accidents.” Both cases offer you the chance to evaluate the cause or potential cause of an incident so you can investigate the hazard, remedy it, and prevent future incidents.
After an accident or near accident occurs, always conduct a post-accident investigation with both the manager and employee involved. As part of the investigation, the manager and employee should fill out a post-accident report together. By filling out this form, they answer the who, what, when, why and how of the incident, which will help you evaluate the root cause so you can address it.
Everyone wins with workplace safety!
By employing these best practices, you can reduce the likelihood of work-related injuries and save your business in productivity and workers’ compensation costs. Beyond this, it’s important for your employees to know that you value their safety and well-being. Plus, when they feel valued they’re more likely to stay engaged and stick around for years to come. To learn about how Orbit Solutions can help you streamline, improve and document your workplace safety compliance, contact your Client Service Representative or send us a note today!