10 Simple Steps to Improve Workplace Safety
In 2007, the estimated national cost of occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States was approximately $250 billion. This amount is paid by all employers, providing proper protection and care for the health of their employees. Without appropriate workers’ compensation programs in place, employers can end up with significant costs that can impact employee health, worker productivity, and revenue. However, there are some easy steps that every employer can take to reduce the potential for workplace injuries and cut down on the financial impact. And such programs don’t have to be complicated - below are ten simple steps to improve workplace safety.
1. Train employees well.
Comprehensive training is a must for preventing workplace injury. Make sure that all your employees have access to--and complete--all the training for their positions.
2. Reward employees for safe behavior.
Rewards are an easy way to encourage workplace safety. Giving out small rewards to employees who follow safety policies keeps them engaged—which can make a big difference in reducing your workplace injuries.
3. Partner with occupational clinicians.
As the name implies, occupational medicine clinicians specialize in workplace injury and prevention. Occupational medicine physicians can help you prevent on-the-job injuries by touring your worksite and identifying areas where there’s a high risk for employee injury. Occupational therapists can improve workplace ergonomics and develop job descriptions to help you screen candidates for physically demanding roles.
4. Use labels and signs.
Labels and signs are a cheap and effective way to quickly communicate important information. They’re usually simple and rely on pictures to detail hazards, proper procedures, etc. These tools are good reminders and warnings for even the most experienced worker.
5. Keep things clean.
A messy workplace can lead to unnecessary accidents. Make sure boxes are stacked safely and spills are cleaned up quickly. Conduct regular inspections to check for potential dangers such as tangled cords, messy floors, and disorganized tools.
6. Make sure employees have the right tools and have regular equipment inspections.
This creates a better product, and a safer work environment. It’s also important that all equipment is cleaned, serviced, and inspected regularly. Machine malfunctions are one of the most dangerous workplace hazards.
7. Encourage stretch breaks.
Stretch breaks are an easy way to improve workplace ergonomics and employee health. Taking even five minutes to stretch can ease muscle tension and loosen joints—reducing the potential for repetitive motion injuries.
8. Implement safety protocols from the start.
Workplace safety starts from day one, which means hiring people who are qualified and have an attention to detail. A safe workplace starts with workers who follow safety requirements and perform their jobs per the established procedures. To ensure that your employees physically can handle their assigned tasks, Concentra also works with physical therapists to measure the amount of force they experience during normal work tasks, and then assist employers to create job descriptions that help prevent placing people in situations where they might be prone to injury.
9. Keep an open dialogue.
Make it easy for your employees to come to you with health and safety concerns. They can report hazards right away—and identify potential areas of concern you may not have noticed. Appoint or nominate a safety captain who is empowered to communicate concerns identified by employees to leadership on a consistent basis.
10. Have regular meetings on workplace safety.
It never hurts to be over-prepared. Regular meetings to go over safety rules and talk about prevention keep workplace safety top of mind—so that when something does happen, everyone knows what to do right away. Review the concerns that have been reported and decide how those concerns will be addressed.
As an employer, you can begin to take some simple steps to help avoid workplace injuries and promote employee health. Starting with these ten tips, and assistance from an occupational medicine expert like Concentra, can help you learn more about effective workers’ compensation programs and how proper prevention can save you money.
Want to learn more about Concentra's occupational medicine services? Talk to one of our work health experts.