10 Things Employers Should Know About On-the-Job Injuries
An on-the-job injury may seem like an unlikely occurrence for you and your employees. The truth is, when your organization is diverse with different job roles and tasks, that means the potential for different types of injuries. An employee working up front at the cash register is going to have a very different work experience then an employee working out back in the loading dock.
To be prepared for on-the-job injuries, there are 10 things that employers should know.
1. Safety equipment and tools
Work injuries involving cuts and lacerations or burns and scalds are not uncommon. In fact, these are some of the most common injuries, and they can sometimes require medical attention and time off work. Fortunately, some of these injuries can be prevented with the appropriate safety equipment such as gloves or goggles. In some cases, the appropriate footwear may even prevent an injury when in a warehouse or a slippery kitchen. These are inexpensive precautions that can save money for you and your business and also prevent your employees from missing valuable work time.
2. Employee Training
The short amount of time that it takes to properly train your employees about appropriate techniques can save you a lot of money in the long run. Something as simple as adjusting the way they hold a knife or lift a box can prevent an injury and save your employee a trip to the ER department. Aside from regular safety training, it's also beneficial to provide visual safety reminders posted around your workplace close to potential danger areas.
3. Pre-established injury care program
Hopefully an injury won’t happen on the job, but just in case one does occur you need to have a program or set of procedures already in place. This program acts like a trigger, so as soon as an injury occurs all the pieces fall into place. Not only should you have an established plan, the plan must also be communicated to your employees. This way if an injury does occur they know exactly what needs to be done to get the treatment they need and get back to work with as little complications as possible.
4. Exhaustion and fatigue
Drowsiness and overworked employees contribute to a large amount of on-the-job injuries. Understandably so, there are busy times of the year when you need to squeeze out as many extra hours from your employees that you can. That may sound like a good idea, but your employees need as much rest as possible to perform the job tasks to their full capability. That extra hour or two of productivity is not worth the cost of dealing with a workers' compensation claim.
5. Up-to-date licensing
Whether your employees need licenses to handle food or liquor or to operate motorized machinery, licenses are something that you need to stay on top of. Each organization is unique and will require different licenses, so it's up to you to decide what best fits your organization. An on-the-job injury is already difficult enough to deal with, but if your employee gets injured and they didn’t have the license they needed to perform that task, you may have to engage with an entirely different set of issues.
6. Young workforce
Most teenagers look to the restaurant and retail industries to kick-start their professional careers. What this means for you as an employer, is that your employees might be young and inexperienced when it comes to being in a working environment. This lack of experience in certain job roles can increase the chance of injury. Everything is new to them and they may not know the appropriate procedures to stay safe. To combat this, extra time and attention needs to be delegated to training the younger employees. You should also be aware of laws that prohibit those under a certain age from doing certain work.
Overexertion accidents account for a large portion of all claims. Every individual is different and has different capabilities based on body type, strength, and mobility levels. It should not be expected for two individuals that may be different in size and strength to handle the exact same workload. To protect your employees from overexertion injuries, you can arrange for a human performance evaluation (HPE) to be performed which will measure how much their body can handle based on body functionality. This evaluation will determine what job tasks they can handle on a daily basis without overexerting themselves.
8. Violence and force
Although injuries from violence and force only account for a very small percent of all claims, you should still be prepared. Disputes with customers can turn violent and your employees should know how to defuse the situation or avoid it all together. These are unlikely occurrences, but your employees should still be trained on how to deal with these types of situations. In some violent situations such as an armed robbery where no one actually gets injured, a medical evaluation may still be necessary to help deal with post-traumatic stress.
Injuries can occur when employees start to cut corners and take short cuts because they feel pressured to get their work done quickly by management. Rushing through your workload can result in ignoring the proper safety protocols just to save a few minutes. Also, it's not uncommon for employees to overexert themselves when trying to complete a tight deadline. It's important to let your employees know that you value their safety above all else and foster an understanding environment. Saving them from injury will save you more money than you would make from them working quickly. Your productivity will decrease dramatically when your employees can’t return to work for multiple weeks while they are at home nursing an injury.
10. Clear and consistent communication
Finally, your business can not be successful without clear and consistent communication. You have to be able to communicate your injury care process and your safety procedures to your employees. Even more so, they should be able to communicate back with you. Your employees are the ones that know their work best and might have suggestions on how to prevent injuries. Your organization can have the best procedures, plans, and equipment in place, but without the proper training and communication on how to use them they might as well not exist at all.
For more information on how we can help you and your business prepare for an on-the-job injuries before they occur, connect with one of our work health experts.
*This document is an overview and does not constitute legal or medical advice.