When it comes to workplace safety, certain industries stand out as having a much higher risk for injuries: manufacturing facilities, construction sites, transportation services, and medical facilities, to name a few. Should companies that are in perceivably lower-risk industries still maintain a focus on occupational safety and health? The answer is yes! What if you’re a small operation? Is it worth it to put some time and energy into the best safety practices? Yes again!
Safety is important to every organization: public or private, big or small, no matter the industry. Read on for answers to some common questions related to safety in the workplace.
What’s the point?
In addition to improving productivity and employee morale, making safety a priority in your organization means you can save money. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, every year businesses spend $170 billion of their profits on costs related to occupational injuries and illnesses. They estimate that an improved focus on safety and health can reduce such costs by 20 to 40 percent, and companies can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested in a safety program.
In addition, frequency of injury is a major component of workers’ compensation rates, and reducing that frequency could improve yours, especially if you’re enrolled in a workers’ compensation captive program.
How do I develop a safety program for my business?
First and foremost, OSHA compliance is of utmost importance. Not sure if your company is up-to-date on best practices? Consider signing up for OSHA Training. There are online and classroom trainings, as well as certificate programs, available at the Mid-Atlantic OSHA Training Institute Education Center. There are also education centers at several other locations that may be more convenient for you.
But it’s more than just compliance. Your program should be designed with your specific operations in mind. OSHA suggests five elements that should be included in an organization’s safety program:
1. Management Leadership and Employee Participation
2. Workplace Analysis
3. Hazard Prevention and Control
4. Safety and Health Training and Education (see links above)
5. Program Evaluation
How do I go about conducting a workplace analysis?
Such an analysis requires scrupulously looking at all the conditions of your facility to determine existing risks and remove existing or potential hazards. To get started, consider contacting a Safety & Risk Management Solutions expert. Along with your own history of workplace incidents and knowledge of risk, they can provide insight into additional hazards you may not be aware of, as well as many other services such as Emergency Response, Equipment Sales and Rentals and more.
How do I keep a safety program going?
Once a program is developed, in order to monitor the efficacy of any safety program and keep it successfully maintained, it’s best to appoint one person as a safety manager. If your operation doesn’t have the capacity for someone to serve as a safety manager, consider reaching out to a Risk Solutions Consultant (like Beth Hertzler at McConkey) who can help you as well.
How do I get my employees to participate?
You must go beyond posting policies on a bulletin board and giving a speech at a meeting to really get your employees to buy into the safety program. OSHA suggests engaging your employees by including them in safety- and health-related policymaking. It’s also important to set an example and remember that senior leadership is never exempt from practicing safety. Make sure that everyone top-down is abiding by the safety rules outlined in your program and recognizing when others are as well. It’s also important that if Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required in your workplace, you’re investing in enough quality products and regularly checking that all equipment is still operating effectively.