One of our many daily, perhaps most important daily task, is helping prevent work place injuries to our employees. My father was a front-line manufacturing supervisor for 30+ years. I actually had the privilege of working for him the summer before my Senior year in college. Of all the life lessons I learned that summer, this was in the top two… #1. Treat every person with respect and dignity #2. You send the people you are responsible for home the same way they left home that morning!
As employer’s, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety and well being of our employees at work. Not only does a safe work environment improve productivity (no lost time injuries) and add to profitability, it boosts employee morale knowing you care about their well-being!
Even with an employer’s best efforts, work place injuries occur. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 3.5 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the United States in 2020. This is equivalent to 2.8% incidents per 100 employees.
So, let’s take a look at some steps you can take as an employer to promote a safe work place environment.
1. Start By Properly Screening Potential New Employees
It seems fairly obvious, but verifying that a candidate possess the experience and physical ability to properly perform required job skills is a great place to start your program for wellness. You can include a functional capacity test to ensure they have the necessary requirements to perform their job safely. This is especially important if the candidate will be involved in handling heavy equipment, hazardous chemicals, machinery or lifting heavy objects.
2. Implement an Injury Prevention Program
Creating a Safety Committee is a great way to engage employees and management in identifying work place hazards and risks. As these hazards and risks are identified, have an effective program to close the loop in neutralizing the risks. Engaging a cross section of company stakeholders can help ensure that programs and initiatives are implemented in a timely and effective manner. This goes a long way to demonstrate to your team that you care about their safety.
3. Invest in Training
Think beyond an initial new hire safety training program. Safety is not a one time event, it is an on-going, consistent program. As an owner, you want to build a company culture of awareness. It becomes second nature for your employees to be mindful of their actions and aware of their peers actions in the workplace. Don’t worry that you have to create a program by yourself. There are resources, many of them free and online, that are easily accessible to provide the training your employees deserve.
One additional note, you don’t have to limit resources to safety only. Part of safety is employee health. Providing resources and training about healthy lifestyle choices and activities. Helping your employees understanding the personal benefit for themselves, and their families. In today’s fast-paced environment, stress is a major factor in mental and physical health. Bringing awareness and making resources available to your employees is a great service to all concerned.
4. Increase Communication And Ask For Feedback
We are all aware that communication is key in all successful personal and business relationships. The same holds true for workplace safety. Effective and frequent communication should not be underestimated! Create a protocol that promotes sharing information throughout the organization regarding new, updated or overlooked safety procedures. When something happens, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind what the correct procedures are. Write these procedures down, keep them in strategic locations in your workspace. Place posters in office spaces, breakrooms, and high traffic areas with the names, numbers and directions to emergency care facilities. Help foster a culture inside your business that endorses a safety first attitude.
In this article, we’ve discussed multiple avenues that can be used to educate, enlighten and encourage a positive cultural attitude towards worker safety in the workplace. But, even with a comprehensive Safety Plan in place, unfortunately, accidents will occur! In those situations, be prepared to help quickly and effectively by have a solid Worker’s Compensation Plan in place. As a business owner, you want to provide the most protection you can for your most valuable assets, your employees!