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Risk Management & Compliance

How to Keep Employees Safe During National Safety Month

Greg Andress
by Greg Andress on June 15, 2021

construction worker takes safety precautions to prevent injury during National Safety MonthThis month, we're celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Safety Month. The National Safety Council (NSC) dedicates four weeks every year to reminding American workers to be safe on the job. The NSC tackles employee safety topics like slip, trip, and fall prevention, ergonomics, and even COVID-19 safety. Take a look at tips for keeping employees safe at work.

Be Proactive


The best way to prevent injuries from occurring is to be proactive and maintain a safe workplace. This includes ensuring walkways are clear, safety equipment is worn, and tool equipment is handled and stored properly. Train employees to report safety hazards.

Avoiding Falls

You might be surprised to learn that falls account for the third-highest total unintentional deaths every year in the United States. Poisoning (including deaths from drugs and medicines) and motor vehicle crashes take the first and second slots. Construction workers are at the most risk for fatal falls from height, but falls can happen anywhere. Water on the floor, uneven walkways, and icy conditions are the most common causes.

In order to prevent these types of accidents at your facility, the following set of safety measures should be a vigilant part of your daily observations.

  • Inspect inside and out for potential tripping hazards and remove any that you find immediately.
  • Keep items such boxes, extension cords, loose carpeting, and other items out of walking paths and exit routes.
  • Maintain proper lighting in all areas and replace burnt bulbs promptly.
  • Place mats under water fountains and near coffee stations.
  • Use “Wet Floor” signs when weather is inclement or during cleaning.
  • Implement a wet/snowy weather action plan

Ergonomics

Overextension causes 35% of all work-related injuries and is the number one reason for lost workdays. Regular exercise, stretching, and strength training can prevent injury. Likewise, ergonomic assessments can ward off ergonomics injuries, often caused by excessive lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, reaching, or stretching.

Review the following ergonomic circumstances on a regular basis:

Materials Handling

  • What heavy materials or equipment are workers handling?
  • Do workers have to lift more than 50 pounds without help?
  • Are supervisors training workers to get help to lift heavy things?
  • Are there cars or dollies available for transporting heavy materials?

Tools

  • Are tools sharp and in good condition?
  • Which tools must be used while in a difficult position?
  • Which tools have a poor handle design?
  • Do gloves ever make it hard to grip tools?

Repetitive Work

  • Which tasks or jobs use the same motion dozens of times an hour for more than 1 hour per day?
  • What are the motions?
  • Can job rotations or rest breaks reduce the number of repetitions?

Awkward Postures

  • Which tasks involve work above the shoulders for more than 1 hour a day?
  • Can scaffolds, platforms, or other equipment cut down on the need to work overhead?
  • Are knee pads or cushions available, and are they used?
  • Which jobs require a lot of twisting or turning, and can they be reduced?

COVID-19 Safety

Carpenter wears mask to protect himself from dust inhalation and COVID-19

As employers expand operations and employees return to the office, it’s important to address the ongoing safety and health concerns of COVID-19.  To follow the latest safety protocols, stay up-to-date on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employers are encouraged to build trust around vaccines and support their employees’ mental health. Here are a few ways to consider offering mental health support to your employees:

  • Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Check health insurance for mental health coverage
  • Encourage breaks
  • Set clear goals
  • Offer flexibility for appointments

Driving Safety

Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. They drive up the cost of benefits such as workers’ compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance. In addition, crashes increase the company overhead involved in administering these programs.

The average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. Here are the key points to instill in your employees.

  • Avoid aggressive driving by keeping your cool in traffic
  • Avoid distracted driving by keeping your eyes on the road (and off your phone)
  • Avoid drowsy driving by getting enough sleep before commuting
  • Avoid impaired driving by giving up your keys when you’ve had too much to drink

Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment. Here are three ways to create a safety culture that keeps your employees safe at work.

Focus on coaching rather than the rulebook

Consider structured coaching (not shadow training) and provide workers with feedback in a way that verifies employees truly understand how to do the job.

Keep talking

Engage workers in meaningful conversations about safety, not just when you first hire them, but consistently.

Don’t settle for complacency

Organizational complacency around safety is the number one threat to worker wellbeing.

At FrankCrum, we reward clients who maintain effective safety management at their worksites by reimbursing participating clients with a percentage of their workers’ compensation charges based on the terms and conditions of this program. To learn more about the ways FrankCrum can help you create a workplace safety program, call 727-799-1150.

 

Greg Andress
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Andress

Greg Andress, Director of Risk Management Services for Frank Winston Crum Insurance, is a 30+ veteran of the insurance industry who has spent more than 20 years in risk management/loss control. With clients in many industries, Greg has developed proactive loss control programs, training materials and technical bulletins; and delivered training for hundreds of clients nationwide to help them understand how they can identify and control their total cost of loss.