Workplace injuries account for 2.8 million emergency room visits annually in the United States. Overexertion and bodily reactions are the leading causes of workplace injury, accounting for 34% of all injuries annually. With these alarming statistics in mind, companies must consider their workers’ health and safety.
Setting up a health and safety program is beneficial for workers and the organization as a whole. Doing so reduces the injury rate, decreases legal liability and insurance costs, and increases employee morale and loyalty. Here are some ways companies can integrate a health and safety program into the workplace:
Develop an Injury Prevention Program:
Sometimes, injuries are preventable. Companies should create a plan to identify, assess and reduce workplace hazards. It involves evaluating the jobs performed in the company, identifying potential injury risks, and implementing preventive measures. For instance, companies can provide safety training to workers and adopt safety protocols such as wearing protective gear.
Train Employees on Proper Technique:
Incorrect use of machines or tools can be the cause of some injuries. Some industries with the highest cases of strains, sprains, and tears due to improper technique include construction, manufacturing, and health care. Therefore, companies should train supervisors and employees on lifting objects or using machines and tools properly.
Encourage Employees to Enroll in Safety Programs:
Companies should encourage employees to enroll in safety programs, such as first-aid or CPR training. By participating in these courses, employees will be better equipped to handle emergencies and prevent injuries in the workplace. There are also safety certifications without a degree that can teach employees how to identify and address safety hazards like fire and electrical issues.
Ensure Proper Maintenance of Tools & Equipment:
Tools and equipment are a staple in all workplaces. Whether the high-speed industrial machinery used in a factory or the primary tools used by an office employee, it’s essential to ensure proper maintenance of all tools and equipment. Companies should regularly inspect their tools and equipment to ensure they’re in safe working condition. Some things to check include the power cords, wiring, guards, and protective covers.
Promote Taking Breaks:
Besides physical injuries, repetitive strain injuries can also occur from working in an uncomfortable position for an extended period. Office workers are particularly prone to such injuries due to prolonged sitting at a desk. So, companies should encourage employees to take regular breaks, stretch and move around during work. It’ll help them stay alert and productive while avoiding any unnecessary strain.
Keep Emergency Exits Clear:
When it comes to health and safety, employers should ensure that emergency exits are marked and kept free of clutter. In an emergency, employees should be able to quickly and safely evacuate the premises without any obstruction. It’s also essential to ensure that all fire extinguishers, emergency alarms, and other safety devices are accessible and in good working order.
Promote a Culture of Safety:
Companies should also promote a workplace safety culture by recognizing and rewarding employees for their adherence to safety protocols. It could be done through awards, rewards, and special recognition for following safety protocols. It’ll motivate employees to be more diligent about health and safety in the workplace. In addition, it will help organizations achieve their safety goals and keep liability at bay.
Partner with Occupational Health Providers:
Employers should also partner with occupational health providers or experts to ensure a healthy work environment. These professionals can provide advice on workplace safety and best practices. They will also provide training on how to prevent injuries. Identifying potential hazards in the workplace and helping companies develop safety protocols to minimize risk is also an area they can cater to.
For instance, they can conduct ergonomic assessments to identify risks that may be putting employees in danger.
Actively Use Labels and Signs:
Labels and signs can also be used to create a visual safety culture in the workplace. For instance, if the floor is wet and slippery, it should be marked with a warning sign. Similarly, any dangerous chemicals or equipment in the workplace should also have appropriate labels and signs. Emergency exits and machine operating instructions should also be appropriately marked.
Train Employees on How to Handle Stress:
Stress is inevitable, regardless of the type of environment. So, it’s crucial to equip employees with stress management tips they can use to reduce stress levels. For instance, employers can promote healthy activities, such as yoga and meditation.
They can also provide counseling services to employees who need extra support. Regular training in mind-body techniques, such as relaxation and visualization, can also go a long way in helping reduce stress.
Keep an Open Dialogue about Safety:
Finally, employers should strive to create an open dialogue about health and safety in the workplace. This could include regular meetings, surveys, and performance reviews. Employees should be encouraged to speak up about their safety concerns, and employers should act on their feedback. It can be something as minor as an uncomfortable chair or a primary concern such as a broken fire extinguisher.
Common Workplace Hazards:
Before an organization can actively promote health and safety, it needs to identify the potential hazards in the workplace. Some of the most common workplace hazards include:
Slips, Trips, Falls:
These hazards can be caused by trailing wires, uneven surfaces, wet floors, and more. It’s essential to regularly inspect the premises for any such hazards and take corrective action.
Unauthorized Use of Equipment:
It’s crucial to ensure that only authorized personnel uses the equipment and machines in the workplace. To do this, limit access to sensitive areas and issue safety gear, such as gloves and goggles, to those who need it.
Improperly installed wiring and outdated appliances can be a significant source of electrical hazards. Therefore, it’s essential to have all wiring checked regularly and replace any outdated equipment. Install GFCIs to reduce the risk of shock.
Health and safety in the workplace are critically important for any organization. It’s not only beneficial from a legal standpoint, but it also ensures that employees feel safe and secure in their work environment. By investing in health and safety initiatives, companies can create a positive culture that encourages employees to reach their full potential. With the right policies and procedures in place, employers can create a workplace that is conducive to both productivity and safety.