According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, including strains, sprains, slips and falls, reported in the private sector during 2015. Workplace injuries result in missed days of work, can decrease productivity, and even affect workplace morale.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe workplace for your employees and while workplace injuries can occur unexpectedly, there are ways to prevent the likelihood of such injuries. Here’s what you can do, as an employer, to stress the importance of their safety:
Why Workplace Safety Matters
Workplace safety is important for numerous reasons. Injuries in the workplace can be stressful, devastating, and even fatal. Even high risk industries make it a goal to be incident free and when just one injury occurs, it can affect everyone. Consider a slip and fall accident that keeps an employee out of work for a few days. During that time, other employees may have to increase their workload to compensate and as a result, workplace morale may plummet due to stress and feeling unappreciated.
Similarly, as productivity decreases, money is lost. According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, using information from the BLS and the National Academy of Social Insurance, U.S. employers spend more than $1 billion per week on disabling and nonfatal workplace injuries.
Advising Employees About Workplace Safety
There are many ways to convey the importance of workplace safety, some are more effective than others, but you should select methods that will work best for your employers. Here are some ways to effectively implement workplace safety:
- Make Your Workplace Free From Obvious Hazards: While many things can become a potential hazard in the workplace, you can drastically reduce the chances of work-related injuries by removing obvious hazards, such as visible tripping hazards or poorly maintained equipment.
- Provide Safety Equipment: Whether your business revolves around office work or manufacturing, you are responsible for providing relevant safety equipment (ie. hard hats, protective eye wear, first-aid kits). Show all employees how to use the equipment and check the condition frequently to make sure that it is in good working condition.
- Clearly Mark Hazardous Areas and Materials: Simply pointing out a hazardous area or material is not enough to keep your employees safe. In addition to verbally explaining where and why an area or material is hazardous, make sure all areas and items are clearly marked in compliance with OSHA standards.
- Safety Training: Many business owners may be hesitant to pay for safety training or fail to see the importance of such training, but when you consider the amount of money lost each year due to workplace injuries, safety training is a worthy investment. Regardless of the type of business you have, your employees can benefit from a safety training course conducted by either a consultant or by you, the employer.
To get the most from safety training, the meeting should be mandatory and it should be presented in a way that all employees can understand. Simple language and important facts are more effective than statistic after statistic and complex language.