Many business owners face the challenge of keeping their employees safe, but having a safe workplace is smart business. Avoiding injuries not only helps reduce lost work time and workers’ compensation claims, but it also drives productivity and increases employee morale. Being proactive before an accident happens is the key to improving safety performance, and sustaining it over time.
Although every company is different, safety standards can benefit every type of organization. Creating a safety program is the first step to reducing workplace risk.
Hold Your Supervisors and Managers Accountable
It’s important you hold leaders accountable for reducing risk. You’ll see that once they take responsibility, others will follow. Then, your employees will know safety is a company priority and an expectation.
Provide Safety Program Training
OSHA has many programs available to businesses. If you choose to partner with a PEO, you have access to a team of safety management specialists who can deliver customized resources for your business.
Remember, for safety program training to stay relevant, you have to keep doing it. Ongoing drills, training and reminders are essential. The cost of ongoing safety workshops is much less expensive than the average cost of a workers’ compensation claim.
Be Proactive About Preventing Injuries
At a very basic level, your employees should wear their hard hats and other equipment necessary to keep them safe on a job site. Have your employees review the tools they’re working with, even if they’ve used them on jobs before.
Also, employees should check equipment before they begin, to make sure it's functioning properly. Sometimes, the condition of machinery can deteriorate overnight, even when it worked properly the day before. The site supervisor should stop work anytime he or she feels there may be a safety issue. Allowing employees to continue working when a piece of equipment could malfunction puts the whole team in danger.
The list of proactive activities can go on — daily toolbox talks, Safety Teams, Competent Person training and other accountability systems that are not tied to discipline. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do your employees drive as a part of their job? If so, you want to make sure they’re trained on the best rules of the road.
- Avoid placing heavy items on higher shelves. It seems simple, but you may be surprised by how often falling items injure employees.
- Pay attention to where you place office equipment, cords and furniture to prevent tripping hazards.
It is important for supervisors and employees to report any hazardous conditions they see, no matter how small or insignificant the conditions may seem.
Develop a Return to Work Program
This program is designed to get injured, disabled or temporarily impaired workers back on the job as soon as medically possible. It can have many great benefits for both the employer and the employee. Those include reducing financial impact and improving the injured employee’s recovery progress.
Research has also shown the longer the injured employee is absent from the workplace, the higher the costs will be to the employer and to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Additional costs include lost productivity, overtime, decreased morale, increased premiums and the costs of hiring and training a new employee if you must replace the injured employee.
One more word of advice: Be sure your workers’ compensation insurance provides adequate coverage for you, your employees and all the roles they may fill. Remember, the safety of your employees starts with you. Developing or improving your safety program is the key to keeping your employees free from injury, and keeping your workers' compensation incidents as low as possible.