As a business owner and employer, you are responsible for preventing workplace injuries and ensuring that your employees work inside a safe and secure workplace environment. After all, a safe working environment will benefit your business. It will improve your employees’ morale while boosting their productivity levels. That said, workplace injuries are highly prevalent these days. According to the BLS, around 2.8 million illnesses and non-fatal workplace injuries occurred in 2017 alone. That means nearly three out of a hundred employees experience workplace injuries.
Most of the time, workplace injuries occur when employees fail to follow safety protocols and precautions. While there are particular safety requirements for every business out there, human errors often fall through the gaps as business owners overlook them. Employers and workers often rush to meet deadlines and don’t consider paying close attention to safety needs. In other cases, there might be hazards that managers and workers lack awareness of or overlook unknowingly. While occupational injuries can occur even in highly safe environments, you can take measures to prevent them. Listed below are some practical tips that will allow you to reduce or eliminate workplace incidents.
Educate and train your workforce
The promotion of safety initiatives amongst your management and employees should always be a consistent thing. Therefore, it would be best to train your workforce and educate them on the significance of following safety precautions when working inside the organization’s premises. Such an approach includes training staff to be mindful of harmful practices, following safety protocols, and reporting even minor issues. A viable strategy would be to provide your employees the opportunity to avail of OSHA certification to learn about essential workplace hazard mitigation practices. Given the duration of these certifications, your workers will quickly develop a sound understanding of necessary occupational health and safety standards.
Develop a wellness and safety plan
A secure work environment results from adequate accident and preventive measures guided by a robust safety and wellness program. That said, such a program should cover all incident prevention basics and critical steps. Furthermore, it should also cover all employee health and safety needs and requirements while encouraging best practices.
In the end, the onus is on your employees to follow the wellness and safety plan and report any potential health hazards beforehand.
Knowing whether your new employees have the physical capabilities and professional experience to perform all duties safely can prevent or minimize workplace injuries. If a job opening requires excessive physical activity, you must perform a physical evaluation of all the potential hires.
Ensure that the potential employee has the required experience and physical fitness to perform the job safely and efficiently, especially if the position involves;
- exposure to hazardous chemicals or materials
- handling heavy machinery and equipment
- performing straining or arduous tasks
It is imperative to aware the new hires of the potential hazards they may experience while working. Additionally, let me know how you manage workplace incidents and provide details of your policies to tackle such issues.
Provide protection and safety equipment
It is crucial to provide the necessary equipment, tools, gear, and other material to prevent workplace injuries or mishaps. The company should have proper safety gear available at all times and adequate lighting arrangements and ventilation systems. It will allow your employees to operate in a stress-free environment, knowing that their workplace is safe from hazards. However, the safety needs of every organization will vary depending on its manufacturing diversities and nature of business. Furthermore, it is also important to use power tools and other equipment according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
If the task at hand requires employees to use chemicals, provide personal protective equipment and hazard suits to ensure safety. If you’re running a construction business, ensure to provide your workers with safety equipment such as gloves, hardhats, steel-toe boots, and other safety equipment.
Communicate effectively and more frequently
It would be best if you avoid underestimating the power of effective communication. You can prevent tons of workplace mishaps and occupational injuries with an established communication system. Develop stringent protocols for sharing safety procedures and guidelines, and revisit them more often with your existing workforce. Safety policies should clearly state what an employee should do in case of an emergency. Although the initial training will help cover essential emergency guidelines and procedures, communicating them frequently helps avoid minor issues.
Encourage employees not to take shortcuts
Workplace accidents will become a reality when your employees and management start skipping essential steps and cut corners when performing their day-to-day tasks. That said, employees don’t do such a thing intentionally. Instead, they do it to save time or complete tasks quickly.
However, doing so will be counterproductive and can result in injuries. For instance, skipping routine safety checks on heavy machines can lead to equipment malfunction, resulting in serious injuries or even death. Likewise, even something as little as a missing bolt on a piece of equipment can result in serious harm.
Hence, it is vital to provide clear instructions on how your workforce should always remain organized. Ensure that each worker follows and implements safety guidelines and procedures thoroughly without missing even the most minor components.
Offer frequent breaks
Workplace accidents occur due to various factors such as mishandling of equipment or spillage of hazardous chemicals. However, an employee’s training, education, and mental or physical condition might also play a critical role. For example, when an employee is sick, tired, or overworked, they might not perform their duties efficiently, leading to mishaps.
To remedy such a situation, offer your employees more frequent breaks. If employees are well-rested, they will perform their duties more effectively and efficiently, reducing the risk of mishandling equipment or other dangerous items.
Look for gaps in your policies and procedures
If your organization experiences workplace accidents more than usual, review your policies and procedures. Are they still appropriate in eliminating potential risks and hazards that your workers face? For example, have you altered how an employee needs to perform specific tasks or use a piece of equipment? If so, as mentioned above, your health and safety committee needs to convey this message to your employees.
When updating your business’s safety protocols, ensure your health and safety committee reviews them thoroughly. Ensure it doesn’t have any gaps or gray areas that could lead to injury, resulting in an unnecessary lawsuit.
Unfortunately, no matter your level of preparedness, workplace accidents can still occur and become severely detrimental to your organization and the workers. If they do, ensure that you’re ready to offer your employees the care they need to recover as quickly as possible. Additionally, it would help if you took steps to promote a culture of safety in the workplace. Companies that fail to abide by OHS standards face several legal challenges. Therefore, a viable and proactive approach would be to mitigate any workplace hazards and ensure employee wellbeing.