By Steven W. Pearce
A safe and healthy workforce is important for any organization to thrive. Employees want to feel safe and secure at their work. According to Safety Works, a program by the State of Maine’s Department of Labor, “A safe and healthy workplace not only protects workers from injury and illness, it can also lower injury/illness costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and raise employee morale. In other words, safety is good for business.” The Safety Works website continues with, “Employers can save $4.00 to $6.00 for every dollar spent on a safety and health program. Workplaces with successful safety and health management systems reduce injury and illness costs 20-40%, according to OSHA.”
Safety Works then outlines the financial disaster that a small business can face by only one workplace accident. For a small business, one injury can mean financial disaster. Costs to a business include:
- Production losses
- Wages for work not performed
- Increased workers’ compensation insurance costs
- Damage to equipment or machinery
- Hiring and/or training new employees
- Decline in product quality and worker morale
- High turnover and lost work time
Additionally, the cost of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths is much greater than the cost of workers’ compensation insurance alone. Insurance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these costs.
There are other issues concerning workplace safety such as with equipment, hazardous waste, and fatigue. Employers should provide proper training and equipment for their employees to feel secure at work.
SafetyCulture made a list of their top 10 office safety rules:
- Conduct office walkthroughs
- Keep work areas neat and tidy
- Promote Employee Hygiene
- Dress appropriately
- Observe proper handling procedures
- Avoid using tools or machineries you’re not trained for
- Fully close doors and cabinet drawers
- Familiarize the workforce with emergency procedures
- Take breaks appropriately
- Always report unsafe conditions
Open Source Workplace has made a list of best practices for a safety and health program:
- Clean workplace and workstation
- Safe and proper use of electrical extension cords
- Lifting properly
- Stress Management
While implementing this system, they list five important components to take into account when creating a health and safety system:
- Communications system: a way to communicate emergency situations through employees, whether by text messaging or emails. This is similar to what universities use to communicate with students in the event of an emergency.
- Create specific programs for training and education
- Conduct regular inspections of the workplace
- Create an exact plan for emergency
- Continuous improvement of the program
Creating a security plan should include a risk assessment and a list of potential threats.
There are resources that the US government gives to help employers create plans. These programs are OSHA and The U.S. Department of Labor. The US Department of labor has preapproved plans for most industries in their respective states, including training materials and posters is through the National Safety Council.
eSafety also gives great advice to employees on what they can do to stay safe at work:
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Keep correct posture
- Take regular breaks
- Never take shortcuts on procedures
- Be aware of new safety procedures
- Keep emergency exits clear
- Report unsafe conditions
- Always wear personal protective equipment
It is vital that an employee feels safe and secure at work and that they are able to seek support and help when needed. They should be able to speak to supervisors when they feel like conditions are unsafe. Accidents in the workplace can cost a company a lot of money as well as high turnover. This can be done as per the previous suggestions, such as walkthroughs, proper training, having communications systems set up, and make sure that you are getting enough rest through breaks. Fatigue can lead to workplace accidents. Meet with your employees and see which suggestions best fit your company’s needs.