While we have come a long way over the last several decades when it comes to ensuring safety at the workplace, we still have our work cut out for us.
Workplace safety is still a serious issue in the U.S. and throughout the world, one all employers need to work towards improving and advancing.
Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities
According to statistics from 2013, there were three million reported non-fatal work injuries and illnesses for that period in the U.S.
On top of that, more than 4,400 fatal occupational injuries were reported.
But as stated earlier, compared to past decades, we have made significant strides when it comes to ensuring worker safety. Fatal occupational injuries have decreased by almost 25 percent over the last decade.
How Much Do Injuries Cost Businesses?
According to the 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2012 amounted to nearly $60 billion in direct U.S. workers’ compensation costs. That’s $1 billion per week.
But that’s just for the most prominent injuries and illnesses. Estimates show that billions more are spent in total when including less common workplace injuries and illnesses.
Decreasing Work-Related Injuries
There are things that you can do to as an employer to improve workplace safety and health for all of your employees. Here are six tips to follow:
Educate your employees to help them understand all potential risks better.
Stress at work can lead to insomnia and depression, which can lead to a lack of concentration, which in turn causes many work-related injuries.
Taking breaks allows your employees to stay alert and avoid injury.
If worn correctly, protective equipment can dramatically reduce the risk of injury.
Alcohol and drugs are a contributing factor in around 3 percent of workplace fatalities.
If your employees have any safety concerns, make sure that they are able to talk to you about them. Remember, you are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment.
Expert Advice on Workplace Safety
Barry Vogt is a senior vice president and chief claims officer at EMPLOYERS, a U.S.-based small business insurance specialist.
According to Barry, keeping employees safe, trained and educated shows you care for them as an employer and can go a long way in making them more productive and motivated.
To keep employees educated on the workplace hazards and safety protocols, Mr. Vogt recommends following the below four steps:
Post All Appropriate Posters and Signage
Every state has its own laws about what information employers must post and distribute about workplace accidents and workers’ compensation. Materials must be accessible to all employees and posted in a common area in a language employees understand.
Check with an insurance agent or carrier for specific state requirements.
Develop Effective Workplace Safety Program
The best defense is a good offense. Employers should take a proactive approach to employee safety by creating and implementing a workplace safety Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
Employees also need routine safety training so protocols remain top of mind. By developing and communicating a workplace safety program, management can help reduce the chances that an on-the-job injury or illness will occur.
Create Return-To-Work or Transitional Modified Job Program
Employers who make transitional or modified jobs available to injured workers can reduce the financial and emotional impacts of an injured worker’s injury or illness.
Pre-Arrange Medical Care Facility
Establish relationships with designated medical providers before incidents occur. By having these partners in place, managers will be able to guide injured employees quickly to the proper care.
Physicians will also have an opportunity to understand the type of work these employees perform, the types of potential injuries they are exposed to, and the potential opportunities there may be for them to have transitional or modified duties.
All of these considerations can be factored into a treatment plan focused on helping the injured employee return to work.