Understanding the Importance of Risk Prevention in the Workplace

By Anna Kleiner | 09/16/2016

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and you want to protect them on the job. Understanding the importance of risk prevention—and how to identify and reduce job hazards—is essential to keeping your employees safe at work. There are three main categories to cover when starting a workplace risk prevention program.

Workplace hazards

Potential hazards at your workplace mostly depend on your industry. While things like slips and falls are common in most industries, the risks a manufacturing employee faces on the production floor are very different from those experienced by an office worker. Some potential hazards may be obvious, such as heavy machinery or toxic chemicals. But others may be harder to see because they’re just a part of the work day. Excessive noise, for example, is a huge problem for manufacturing employees and the cause of many work injuries and illnesses—but it’s not the first thing people think of when they hear “workplace hazard.”

A good way to learn more about workplace hazards you may have overlooked is to research the most common on-the-job injuries1 and illnesses in your industry. Doing this may help you identify problems in your workplace and where you can improve. It’s also a good idea to ask your occupational medicine provider to send a physician to your workplace to find potential workplace hazards. They’ll be able to work with you to create protection plans for your employees. If you don’t have an occupational medicine provider, contact one of our workforce health experts to get set up.

Workplace violence

You may believe your workplace is safe, but violence can happen in any workplace. Every year, nearly 2 million Americans report being victims of workplace violence.3 It can have a variety of causes, such as an employee fight, dissatisfied customers, or even just someone unhappy with termination. Even if your workplace has never experienced workplace violence, preparing for it is the best way to prevent it.

OSHA recommends that employers establish a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence that covers everyone who works at the company or comes into contact with employees. Doing this is one of the best ways to protect your workforce from workplace violence. Depending on your industry, there may be additional steps you can take to protect your employees on the job. OSHA provides a long list of resources4 that can help you find what’s right for your employees and industry.

Job role hazards

Every job—no matter how “safe”—has potential hazards that need to be addressed. Like workplace hazards, this can be tied into your industry, but job role hazards also vary by team or department. They can include things such as sitting for hours every day, being in an environment with large amounts of noise, spending long periods of time in the sun, or even repeating the same motions over and over—like typing or lifting boxes. OSHA has a great overview of what to look for when identifying job role hazards5, but if you’re in a high-risk industry or experiencing a high volume of work-related injuries and illnesses, the best way to protect your employees is to have a health and safety expert visit your workplace. They can analyze each job and provide you with recommendations on how to reduce the hazards in each role.

Resources
[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf
[2] http://www.concentra.com/campaigns/consultation/
[3] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/
[4] https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/evaluation.html
[5] https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy10/sh-20839-10/circle_chart.pdf