The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics received 2.8 million reports of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an average of 15 workplace deaths occurred daily.
These sobering statistics speak to the importance of developing a safety program in order to protect both your employees and your business.
OSHA estimates that an effective safety and health program can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested. Implementing a safety program is not only ethical but also results in:
- Lower costs (thanks to fewer insurance and workers’ compensation claims).
- Increased productivity (thanks to fewer employees missing work due to injuries or illness).
- Higher employee morale.
If it’s been a while since you last looked at your safety protocols, it’s probably time for a review and update. Learn the ins and outs of developing a thorough workplace safety and health program below, along with six proactive tips for workplace safety.
How to Develop a Thorough Safety Program
Your company’s safety program must comply with OSHA regulations. Make sure your guide outlines both workplace hazards and employee training, as training is one of the most critical parts of workplace safety.
To ensure your company’s program is effective, get buy-in from all managers and employees. Customize it to fit your business, its unique operations, and its culture. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this issue; a retail store’s safety program will (and should) look very different from a construction company’s program.
A comprehensive workplace safety and health program allows employers to maintain a system that continually reviews and addresses workplace hazards.
It’s also important to know your state and local laws. For example, New Hampshire has specific safety labor laws for employers with 15 or more employees.
Five elements every effective program should have, according to OSHA, include:
- Management leadership and employee participation
- Workplace analysis
- Hazard prevention and control
- Safety and health training and education
- Program evaluation
But how can you ensure that all managers and employees take safety seriously and have a complete understanding of the program? Make the following a part of your plan:
- Post the company’s written safety and health policy for all to see.
- Include employees in policymaking on safety and health issues.
- Ensure that managers actively participate in safety activities.
- Hold meetings that focus on employee safety and health.
- Make it clear that leadership must also abide by all safety and health rules.
- Show your commitment by investing time, effort, and money in a safety and health program.
Another vital aspect of ensuring workplace safety is performing a worksite analysis regularly. Start by developing a hazard analysis for every position and process and confirm that employees understand this analysis process.
This includes creating a safety committee (also a great way to involve employees in policymaking!), implementing a clear system for reporting hazards, encouraging employees to report those hazards, and examining worksite conditions.
Did you know you can request a free OSHA consultation visit? The organization will send someone to assess your workplace and make safety recommendations. You simply need to contact your regional OSHA office.
6 More Tips for Workplace Safety
In addition to creating a program, there are several ways your company can be proactive in protecting employees’ safety and health.
1. Partner with occupational clinicians and physical therapists.
Occupational clinicians and physical therapists can help you audit for workplace hazards and injury prevention. They can visit your worksite and:
- Identify areas with a high risk for employee injury.
- Improve workplace ergonomics.
- Develop human performance evaluations to help screen candidates for physically demanding roles and aid in the return-to-work process.
2. Regularly maintain equipment and ensure employees have the equipment they need.
It may seem like a given, but proper equipment and training on said equipment should be a priority. Ensure employees know how to use and maintain equipment. If certain equipment needs to be professionally maintained, management should make sure maintenance is performed on a proper schedule.
On the flip side, management should provide all employees with any necessary safety equipment (e.g., safety goggles, back braces for heavy lifting, ergonomic office chairs, etc.). Additionally, employees should know how to use and maintain personal protective equipment.
Most importantly, employees must understand and follow safe work practices. This is where regular meetings to review the safety program and potential hazards come in.
3. Post labels and signs.
One cheap and effective method to quickly communicate important information is sharing labels and signs in relevant places throughout your worksite. These signs should be simple and rely on pictures to demonstrate hazards and proper procedures.
4. Establish organization & cleaning routines.
Another basic practice is to establish organization and cleaning routines. Avoid unnecessary accidents by keeping boxes organized safely and cleaning up spills quickly. When a spill occurs, put up appropriate signage to inform people. Inspect your worksite regularly for potential dangers like tangled cords, messy floors, and disorganized tools hanging about where they shouldn’t be.
5. Remind workers to take stretch breaks.
Chronic pain is a common issue in the workplace. Ailments like back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome are all too common and disrupt employee productivity and motivation.
Taking breaks to stretch and move around helps with ergonomics and prevents other chronic health issues. Movement and stretching also reduce the potential for repetitive motion injuries.
6. Designate a safety committee or captain.
If you’re a New Hampshire business, you may be required to do this. Either way, designating a safety committee or captain ensures there is someone empowered to communicate concerns identified by employees to leadership regularly. They can also regularly evaluate workplace safety hazards and areas for improvement.
Implementing a comprehensive workplace safety program combined with these everyday prevention tips will lower the risk for both your employees and company. If you need assistance creating yours, BlueLion will be happy to help keep your workplace safe and compliant. Contact us at 603-818-4131 or email@example.com to learn more today!
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.