10 Simple Steps to Improve Workplace Safety

Michelle Hopkins

In 2015, the cost of disabling injuries and illnesses reached almost $60 billion – and the top 10 injuries accounted for $51.4 billion, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. 

Overexertion leads the list of top 10 injury causes. Representing almost a quarter of all workplace injuries, overexertion (lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing objects) costs businesses just under $14 billion a year. “Falls on the same level” aren’t far behind at a cost of $11.2 billion, representing 19.2% of all workplace injuries.

These costs are paid by employers – and without appropriate plans in place, businesses can end up with significant costs that can impact employee health, productivity, and revenue. 

Create a Workplace Safety Culture

Stop and think for a moment about how often – and in what ways – you convey the importance of workplace safety to your employees. Does it get discussed monthly? Quarterly? Annually? If you want to reduce workplace injuries, consider making workplace safety an important part of your company’s culture. You can begin by understanding the root causes of your most serious workplace injuries and regularly surveying the workplace for potential safety hazards in equipment and work design.

Consulting an occupational health expert is one of the best ways to gain insight into injury prevention.

Once you have a clearer picture of your major workplace safety “hot spots,” you are ready to engage with your employees to enlist their support in creating a company culture where safety is always top of mind.

Here are some simple steps to get you started.

10 Easy Workplace Safety Tips

1. Train employees well.

Comprehensive training is a must for preventing workplace injury. Make sure that all of your employees have access to – and complete – all safety 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 workplace injuries.

3. Partner with occupational clinicians.

As mentioned above, occupational medicine clinicians can provide valuable insight into workplace injury and prevention. These clinicians can help you prevent work injuries by visiting your worksite and identifying areas where there’s a high risk for employee injury. Physical and occupational therapists can also improve workplace ergonomics and develop human performance evaluations to help you screen candidates for physically demanding roles and aid in the return-to-work process.

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 and proper procedures. 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. Programs like 5S often provide beneficial improvements in organization that can lead to reduced clutter.

6. Make sure employees have the right tools and have regular equipment inspections.

The right tools and equipment create 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. Active movements have been shown to be more effective than passive stretching alone.

8. Implement safety protocols from the start.

Workplace safety starts from day one, which means hiring qualified people who pay attention to detail. A safe workplace starts with employees who follow safety requirements and perform their jobs per the established procedures. Some employers work with physical therapists to analyze the physical demands of each job role. The findings are used to create functional job analyses and post-offer pre-placement functional testing.

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 review safety rules and discuss prevention keep workplace safety top of mind so that when something does happen, everyone knows what to do right away.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to protect your employees and provide a safe workplace. Use these ten tips to get started, and partner with Concentra® to help make your workplace safe, healthy, and productive.

Find out how Concentra can help keep your workplace safe by talking to one of our work health experts today.