Common workplace injuries can have devastating consequences. According to OSHA, in 2014 there were 13 workplace fatalities per day, or approximately, 4,800 fatal workplace injuries per year. During the same period, about three million non-fatal injuries and illnesses were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preventing workplace injuries is good business practice for companies; having employees out of work hampers productivity and preventable injuries can lead to fines, lawsuits, and insurance premium increases. What can companies do to prevent common workplace injuries?
Beware of Complacency
One of the most common causes of common workplace injuries is simple complacency. Companies develop safety plans, document everything in manuals, and carry the appropriate insurance. Yet managers and employees alike feel that "it won't happen to us." This less-than-vigilant attitude leads to deviations from safety process, lower awareness, and lax enforcement - all of which lead to injuries occurring. It's important that companies prioritize developing a safety culture and keeping it at the forefront of workplace operations at all times.
Ensure Everyone Understands the Benefits
Do your employees and managers understand the key benefits of really following the safety program? Benefits occur at three levels. The first is the company level. By following safety protocols, companies ensure that they'll stay in business and stay profitable. At the same time, managers and workers also have benefits at the individual level. Observing safety protocols keeps them safe, helps ensure that they can continue to enjoy life outside the office, and that their financial futures are more secure.
Make Safety Guidelines Clear and Provide Ongoing Support
In practice, it's essential that companies make safety guidelines clear. In addition to documentation and posters, companies should invest in training every new hire on safety protocols. Depending on the nature of the workspace and industry, workers should periodically be retrained to ensure that nothing has been forgotten and that they're up to speed on any changes. At the same time, management should be conducting frequent inspections and providing real-time feedback to employees on how they're performing. When necessary, invest in additional training to ensure that all of your essential staff has the right safety skills.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Keeping lines of communication open is a preemptive step for finding and addressing safety violations. Management should be communicating regularly with the workforce on safety issues. Encourage your team to bring up any safety concerns, from obstacles to colleagues not following the protocols, so that the issues can be addressed. Employees on the front line can often be the most reliable source of information about safety concerns.
Actively Engage your Employees in Safety Discussions
When employees feel involved, they're less likely to feel as though they are being dictated to and instead take an active role in following safety protocols. Have employees regularly attend meetings on safety issues, play an active role in monitoring for compliance, and encourage them to make suggestions for safety improvements.
Common injuries in the workplace can have a variety of consequences, from an employee out of the office for a few days to a devastating fatality. Companies need to take a proactive role to establish and enforce safety standards, motivate employees with clear guidelines on why, and actively engage employees in ongoing safety discussions.