How To Increase Safety In The Workplace And Why It Is Important

May 31, 2023

The total number of reported injury cases in the US rose by 6.3% in 2021, totaling 2.2 million cases compared to 2.1 million from the previous year.

Injury cases also increased, with businesses reporting 2.3 cases per 100 full-time employees compared to 2.2 cases in 2020.

These alarming numbers emphasize the need for employers to put more focus and effort into improving safety standards in the workplace. Simply put, workplace safety is about preventing injuries, illnesses, and deaths of employees while on duty and alleviating the suffering and financial hardships these events can cause workers, their families, and employers.

To achieve this, employers must implement safety and health programs that use a proactive approach to protect employees’ health, which involves management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention, education, and program evaluation and improvement. There also needs to be communication and coordination between employers, contractors, and staffing agencies to identify each employee’s concerns and ensure the smooth execution of these safety programs.

Benefits Of Having A Safe Workplace

Maintaining a safe workplace, as well as implementing good health and safety practices at work, ensures long-term benefits for your business and the broader community. On the other hand, poor health and safety performance can directly affect profitability and may result in a loss of trade or even closure of the business.

Firstly, employees should not be forced to compromise their health and physical safety while performing their duties. While it is the right of all employees to feel safe at work, employers have both legal and moral obligations to provide a working environment free from known risks.

Aside from this, organizations that prioritize occupational safety tend to experience better employee performance, decreased absences and turnovers, and higher productivity because people can carry out their tasks more efficiently. Decreasing downtime due to illness and accidents results in less disruption and saves money for your business.

Maintaining a good health and safety record can also be a source of competitive advantage because it builds trust in a company’s reputation and brand. By demonstrating your commitment to sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and worker protection, you may find it easier to attract investors and business partners.

Customers increasingly prefer ethically produced products and services, which means they may look at the work practices throughout your supply chain and check if you are adequately protecting your workforce. Job seekers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, also often seek employers who share their values, so having strong corporate responsibility and sustainability practices can help you attract and retain top talent.

Common Causes Of Workplace Hazards

In recent years, the primary causes of work-related injuries and illnesses have been exposure to harmful substances or environments, overexertion and bodily reactions, and slips, trips, and falls. These top three causes account for over 75% of all nonfatal injuries and illnesses that involve days away from work.

“Slips, trips, and falls can be frustrating, embarrassing, painful, and costly to you and your family. These accidents often leave victims hospitalized for days or even weeks while the utility bills, medical bills, and other expenses collect at your doorstep,” says Mark Hudoba, one of the Barnes Firm’s slip and fall lawyers in NYC.

Harmful substances include electricity, extreme temperatures, air and water pressure changes, and contagious and infectious diseases. Meanwhile, overexertion could be caused by microtasks that lead to stress or strain on a body part due to the repetitive nature of the task or excessive physical effort directed at an external source, such as lifting, pushing, turning, holding, carrying, or throwing.

Injuries could also occur when a worker trips, slips, or falls while sitting and falls onto or against objects on the same level. Other accidents could be related to falling from collapsing structures, falling through surfaces, and falling from ladders, roofs, or scaffolding.

Steps To Creating A Safe Workplace

To build a strong foundation for workplace safety and health, you must first make safety and health a core value by informing your workers that their well-being is integral to your business operations. Follow this up with proof that it is more than an empty promise by setting concrete examples, such as exhibiting safe behaviors and incorporating safety into your daily workplace interactions.

You should also develop a reporting system with easy-to-follow procedures for workers to report injuries, illnesses, incidents, hazards, or safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation, including an option for anonymous reporting. It would also help if you could offer training programs to educate workers on identifying and controlling workplace hazards and reporting injuries, illnesses, and near misses.

Get your employees involved by letting them join as you do your workplace inspections, asking them to point out any concerning activities, equipment, or materials, as well as any suggestions on hazard control. Take the time to follow up on their recommendations and, if necessary, allow them to research solutions and instructions for different scenarios, including potential emergencies during work hours. Finally, apply hazard controls by assigning workers the responsibility of selecting, implementing, and evaluating the solutions they propose. Don’t forget to request input on workplace changes by consulting with workers before significantly altering the workplace, work organization, equipment, or materials to identify potential safety or health concerns.

This content is part of the HWM Partnership.

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