In the U.S., a workplace injury occurs every seven seconds.
One of the best ways to reduce the number of workplaces injuries is to take preventative action. By making job safety a priority, you can reduce the number of workplace injuries that occur.
Putting a focus on safety saves costs that result from workplace accidents and keeps your employees healthy and productive. With just a few safety improvement ideas, you can make your office a better place to be. Keep reading to find out how.
Employee Job Safety Rights
Job safety is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OHSA). This federal statute mandates that all workers have a right to perform their duties in a safe workplace.
Beyond the right to a safe workplace, the OHSA places responsibility for worker safety on the employer. Employers are required to provide training, perform tests and maintenance, and ensure that the workplace is safe.
In most cases, this legal requirement even protects workers when they’re the cause of the accident. And this is especially true when you’re involved in industries that work with heavy equipment and perform dangerous tasks.
Business-owners are also responsible for the safety of customer, visitors, and any other individuals in their workplace.
Most Common Job Injuries
The most common injuries that keep employees from doing their job are:
- Strains and tears
- Soreness and pain
- Cuts, laceration, and punctures
But in terms of workplace injuries, the top three that cause employees to miss work are:
- Overexertion (34%): Lifting and lowering, as well as other repetitive motions, cause overexertion.
- Contact with objects or equipment (25%): This includes workers who are struck, caught in or compressed by a collapsing structure, equipment, material, or other objects.
- Slips, trips, and falls (25%): Making up 1/4 of all workplace injuries falls to a lower level and falls on the same level can be serious and even fatal.
Among the most dangerous jobs in America are roofing, trash and recycling maintenance, truck driving, agricultural work, and the construction industry. While working in one of these industries means a higher risk of workplace injury, an accident can happen in any business.
The Cost of Job Injuries
The cost of workplace injuries is the responsibility of the employer. All the costs related to job safety are paid by employers. This includes costs that impact employee health, productivity, as well as revenue.
According to research conducted in 2015, the costs of serious, nonfatal workplace injuries was close to $60 billion. That means that businesses spent over $1 billion every week on workers compensation costs.
Injuries related to overexertion alone cost businesses over $13 billion. And falls totaled over $11 billion. This is why job safety measures that prevent injuries and illness can help you save revenue in the long run.
10 Job Safety Measures
Whether you’re involved in dangerous work or you’re workers are primarily seated at a desk, every workplace can benefit from improved safety. Follow these 10 tips to get your business on the right track.
1. Hire the Right Employees
The people who are on the work floor every day are ultimately the first line of defense when it comes to job safety. That’s why hiring the right employees is the first step to improving job safety.
The people you hire should have the background and qualifications needed for their role. That’s especially true for supervisors and managers, who are responsible for ensuring the safety of their team.
You should screen potential employees thoroughly. Make sure they have the education, certifications, and licenses they need to perform their tasks.
At the same time, consider the soft skills of employees in your hiring decisions. People who are focused, responsible, accountable, and reliable, can help you implement and maintain job safety measures.
2. Involve Employees
Once you have the right employees, actively involve them in job safety.
First and foremost, that means you have to train them properly. Training goes beyond basic training and orientation. It’s even more than making sure that employees have access to safety information at all times.
Instead, safety training should be ongoing. Refresher courses should be performed regularly. And when new equipment or a new process is introduced, everyone should be updated and trained adequately.
You can also offer incentives for workplace safety. A reward system encourages the involvement of your employees and keeps them engaged in the program.
This can be as simple as weekly or quarterly rewards for passing safety tests. You can think about setting up friendly competitions between departments to further encourage efforts towards increased safety.
3. Have Regular Meetings
Embedding job safety into the culture of your workplace is up to you. But, if you do it correctly, you’ll reduce preventable workplace injury and accidents. Strategize how to convey the importance of job safety and then make a schedule for implementing your plan.
Regular meetings can help enforce safety rules and offer a platform for discussing prevention. It gives employees an opportunity to share ideas for better job safety and to express concerns.
Safety meetings are beneficial to seasoned employees and new employees alike. Talking about safety on a regular basis will also ensure it stays at the top of everyone’s mind and nobody falls into bad habits. It also keeps everyone accountable for each other’s safety and creates a team spirit around maintaining safe work habits.
4. Prepare for Emergencies
Fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are a must. But they’re also the very least you can do in terms of preparing for an emergency situation. You need to be sure that every employee is capable of responding appropriately in an emergency situation, and that they have the resources to do that.
Consider implementing regular fire drills, emergency drills, and rehearsals for situations unique to your geographic location (i.e. hurricanes, ice storms, earthquakes, etc.). If the real event should occur, employees will be well prepared. They’ll understand their role and the situation is less likely to result in injury or accident.
5. Perform Maintenance
For some industries, machinery and equipment is an important factor in job safety. Industrial companies that work with and operate heavy machines and other equipment have to take extra care when it comes to improving safety.
Compliance with regulatory standards may also require your business to perform maintenance and job safety analyses. This website can tell you more about how technology can improve your job safety and compliance.
For other industries, it’s important to remember that maintaining equipment can reduce the risk of injury and accidents. Broken equipment is more likely to cause a loss in production and serious injuries.
Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Be sure that equipment is regularly checked as well.
Don’t put these important items off or wait until they break to fix them. Although it disrupts the workflow, the consequences of an accident will be far worse.
6. Safety Equipment
Some industries have to wear and use safety equipment. Because it’s standard procedure in industries like construction, proper and consistent use of safety equipment often gets overlooked.
To remind employees of the safety rules, post signs around the workplace. These can mark areas where safety equipment is required. Have your supervisors enforce these rules rigorously.
You can encourage employees to use their safety equipment by proving good quality gear. When fall protection, eyewear, and other safety equipment is regularly replaced and personalized to each worker, their more likely to wear it.
Employees should also know when specific gear should be used and how to wear it correctly.
7. Focus on Wellbeing, Too
Considering the most common workplace injury is exertion and sores, and pain keeps people from coming to work, making sure employees are comfortable is key. Ergonomics will help relieve any unnecessary strains on the body. You can make your employees aware of their health and body limitations to avoid future injuries.
Ergonomic hazards include, but aren’t limited to:
- Repetitive movement
- Poor posture
- Poor workstation setup (including computer and chair adjustments)
- Awkward movement on a consistent basis
- Frequent force and vibration
Beyond ergonomics, hygiene plays a role in workplace safety. Having a focus on hygiene can limit the spread of germs and illness. This is especially true in confined offices and worksites as well as places where equipment is shared or handled by multiple people.
8. Avoid Mess
Clutter and mess can cause trips, slips, and falls. This is the third most common cause of workplace injury and can be avoided by keeping your office or worksite clean, organized, and dry.
9. Open Dialogue
Making safety part of your company culture means keeping an open door policy around job safety. Employees should feel comfortable reporting unsafe behavior. They should also be encouraged to share their ideas for improving safety.
When employees do come forward with safety concerns or ideas, rewarding them can go along way in their continued efforts and the efforts of those around them.
10. Start a Safety Committee
A safety committee is a great way to bring job safety into the workplace. It makes employees accountable and gives them an opportunity to participate in maintaining their own health and safety while at work.
Your safety committee should involve employees from all departments. It should mix managers, human resources, shipping and receiving, operations, and people who work in the factory.
A well-rounded safety committee is one that knows the potential hazards of the workplace for every employee.
Keeping Your Workplace Healthy
Job safety not only protects your employees it also protects your revenues. Keeping the workplace safe ensures you’re not paying workers compensation or losing the productivity of employees who become injured or ill.
Actively engaging in job safety requires that you include your employees in the process. That means providing training and making safety part of company culture. But job safety also requires that you’re compliant with regulatory standards and using the right equipment when it’s necessary.
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