Workplace injury is an often underestimated, severe problem. It is different from a normal personal injury case, in that it puts both your livelihood and your health at stake. It is impossible not to see how anyone’s wellbeing would be affected by a workplace accident. Plus, a workplace injury is costly in more ways than one. It is costly to the business, it is costly to the employer, and it is costly to the employee as well.
There are countless reasons why improving workplace safety should be a top priority for employers around the country. According to one survey, disabling injuries and illnesses cost Americans almost $60 billion in 2015 alone. Plus, the top ten injuries accounted for $51.4 billion of the total $60 billion. That’s a crazy amount!
In order, the top five causes of injury were found to be overexertion, falls on the same level, falls to a lower level, being struck by an object or piece of equipment, and other exertions or bodily reactions. The remaining five causes included roadway incidents, slips or trips without falling, being caught in and/or compressed by equipment or objects, and executing repetitive motions.
Most, if not all, of these workplace accidents are totally preventable—and they cost everyone more than just money. They also sacrifice time and well-being. The effort it may take to create a safer work environment is worth everything.
You have probably heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” before. Well, workplace safety is kind of similar. You want to emphasize its importance so nobody ever has a chance to forget about it. In most occupations, workplace safety (and more relevantly, its importance) is discussed a bit flippantly—and not very often.
Ask yourself: how often do you emphasize the importance of workplace safety to your employees? In what ways do you do so? And how often do you talk about it? By making workplace safety an integral part of your company’s culture, you can begin taking huge steps in understanding the root causes of your workplace’s most serious and common injuries.
As an employer, it is important to be proactive. Consider conducting regular surveys to check the workplace for any potential safety hazards—both with any equipment you use and the general work design. You may also benefit from consulting with an occupational health expert and a trusted workplace injury attorney. Doing so will let you know not only what next steps to take, but also help you better understand all the legalities involved.
After doing all this, you are likely to have a much clearer picture of the hazards specific to your workplace—and doing so will open up avenues of communication between you and your employees. Remember that it is near impossible to keep their safety at the forefront if you are not considering their needs. The following tips may help you better understand how to keep your employees engaged in the process every step of the way.
The best way to ensure that workplace safety is at the forefront of your employees’ minds is to start from the very beginning. This includes stressing the importance of adhering to all relevant safety rules and regulations from the very first interview, as well as training your employees fully and properly. Provide them with all the necessary comprehensive training to prevent workplace injury. Take on the responsibility of ensuring that all your employees have access to and complete all relevant training for their positions.
You will want to implement safety controls immediately. This includes not only hiring qualified individuals but also making the workplace rules and expectations clear. You may want to work with a physical therapist in order to fully analyze each job’s physical demands. This can help you develop job analyses and functional testing.
As we mentioned earlier, you may find it beneficial to consult with occupational clinicians and workplace injury attorneys. Doing so may provide you with valuable insight into any potential hazards and risks present in your specific workplace. The relevant professionals may also be able to help you improve the ergonomics of your workplace. They may also assist you in developing performance evaluations in order to screen out candidates for particularly demanding roles. This can also aid in the return-to-work process after an injury.
The next step is to make sure you keep your expectations clear. A cheap and easy way to do this is to use labels and signs to communicate important information. A good sign can use just a picture in order to remind workers of hazards and proper procedures.
Keeping things clean also helps keep things clear. Stress neatness to your employees. They may help prevent unnecessary accidents. Employees should always take care to stack boxes safely and clean up all spills as promptly as possible. Conduct regular inspections in order to ensure that they are adhering to all protocol. You will also want to encourage stretch breaks.
By providing your employees with the right tools and conducting regular equipment inspections, you let your workers know what to expect. It is important for you to check on your equipment regularly, as machine malfunctions are particularly common and dangerous workplace hazards.
Remember, nobody knows the hazards of your workplace better than your workers themselves. Keeping an open dialogue will allow you to address any issues right away. Make sure your workers know that you are open and available to discuss any health and safety concerns. They may be able to notify you of potential areas of concern or hazards. It may help to appoint or nominate a safety captain.
You may also want to consider having regular meetings on workplace safety. Periodic overviews of safety rules and prevention strategies will make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
At Injury Victim Law, we take worker safety seriously. We can help you with any and all of your workplace safety-related issues. Though our firm is based in Colorado, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to help individuals all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our qualified nationwide worker’s compensation attorney.