Preventing Injuries in the Workplace
Injury Prevention Month – A Time to Focus on
With April being Injury Prevention Month, now is a great time for businesses to revisit and reframe their safety training, injury prevention and safety planning efforts. Regardless of your industry, workplace safety is a topic that should always be at the forefront of your mind. Protect the health of your workers, and do what you can to boost overall productivity.
Common Workplace Hazards
One of the best places to start in regards to company safety culture is with some of the most prevalent workplace hazards found in practically all work environments:
- Safety, which includes conditions, substances and objects that pose a risk to employees
- Chemical, which consists of vapors, liquids, gases, particulate matter and fumes
- Biological, which includes infectious materials, animals and other people
- Physical, which consists of extreme temperatures, radiation, loud noises and sun exposure
- Ergonomic, which includes musculoskeletal disorders
Why Is Injury Prevention Important?
With knowledge of hazards, and by creating and enforcing health and safety rules for employees, neither you nor your employees have to be among the 4,500+ employees who die on the job, or the more than 4 million who suffer serious job-related injuries and illnesses, reports the Department of Labor.
The prevalence of certain workplace hazards causing violations and harm to employees year over year – evidenced by OSHA’s top 10 violations list – goes to show that more can and should be done in today’s workplaces to improve worker safety. Looking back at previous years’ safety issues is another indicator of what went wrong at jobsites and what solutions are available to improve safety and reduce risk; for example, workplace safety trends in 2018 showed that fall protection, workplace violence, and hazard communication were standout safety trends.
Current OSHA Regulations
An important way to improve workplace safety is to keep current on the most recent OSHA regulations regarding illness, injury and death prevention. Assess your workplace to determine the types of hazards that exist and require action and visit OSHA’s website to provide insight on what to look for. Then, determine your options for controlling and preventing hazards. What are other companies in your industry doing to mitigate unnecessary risk? Determine what measures make the most sense, fit your current budget and are actually effective. Check for redundancies and overlap. For instance, giving employees protection for their hearing may prevent hearing loss, but that protection could also make it so your employees can’t hear fire alarms, which creates a separate hazard.
and Illness Prevention Programs
From a big picture perspective, implementing an injury and illness prevention program is an effective way to prevent injuries and reduce risk. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. Thirty-four states in the U.S. and many countries around the world either require or encourage employers to implement such programs.
According to OSHA, for workplaces who adopt these types of approaches, “Not only do these employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, but they often report a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction.” Injury and illness prevention programs include common elements such as: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement.
Your Health and Safety Rules for Employees
Develop your workplace safety rules and hazard control plan, which lays out how to put your chosen control measures into action. Keep track of how controls are coming along, and be sure you share your plan with your employees so they know what’s going on and what to do. On a related note, don’t forget about controls that apply to non-routine operations, such as maintenance and equipment shutdowns and inclement weather disasters. Be sure you perform all necessary follow-up to make sure every aspect of your workplace safety plan is in place and fully operational.
Throughout your planning and implementation, take extra care that you adhere to the latest compliance regulations, rules, codes, laws and the like. For instance, there may be specific equipment safety labels, signs and tags you need to place on your products or display in your facility. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a fine or reprimanded while making an honest effort to protect your employees.
Safety Culture – and the Cost of an
Whether you’re a small or large business, you’re likely eyeing the overall cost of workplace safety. While that’s completely understandable, you should look at the other side of the equation. How much will it cost if just one of your employees were to become injured?
Employees unable to work due to an injury or illness may not be able to provide for themselves or their families, which can lead to a tide of debt, which can lead to additional health issues due to stress and anxiety. As an employer, you stand to lose a lot, too:
- Damaged property, machinery or material may require replacement.
- You may have to pay an injured worker wages that are not covered by your current workers’ compensation plan.
- Employees with long-term injuries may require special accommodations to continue performing their work duties.
- Having to stop workflow to respond to and address the injury or illness could cost you.
- Replacing the injured or ill worker and training the new employee costs money.
As you can see, you can’t really afford to go without workplace safety plans. Do everything you can to save as much money as possible without skimping on the essentials. Additionally, revisit your workers’ compensation benefits to make sure they match your most current needs and offer you and your team of employees as much protection (and peace of mind) as possible.
What Are the Ways to Prevent Injuries?
Need a good jumping-off point for your injury and illness prevention plan? Here’s a quick checklist you can share with safety managers and employees:
- Screen employees and applicants to ensure they are physically capable of carrying out their job duties.
- Continually educate employees and managers on the latest safety standards.
- Look into safety vulnerabilities.
- Provide safety equipment.
- Avoid shortcuts.
- Ensure enough employees are available to maintain workplace safety.
- Inspect and maintain company vehicles.
- Layout workspaces in a way that promotes safety and prevents slips, trips and the like.
No matter if it’s Injury Prevention Month or not, it’s always a good time to brush up on workplace safety measures. Reach out to us here at Clarion Safety Systems for more workplace and equipment safety insight – including how we can help create custom labels, signs and tags in line with your injury and illness prevention program.