Does your small business have an established injury prevention program? For many small businesses, reducing workplace injuries is a high-priority, but implementing a formal program seems daunting. However, simple and low-cost approaches to injury prevention have been shown to be effective at making workplaces safer.
You don’t need a complicated or high-cost approach to reduce injuries at your business. You can put together a program that’s flexible and suited just for your business.
The Benefits of Workplace Injury Prevention Programs
OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), provides compelling evidence that such programs can and do work for small businesses. An internal OSHA study of nine SHARP firms - small employers that operate exemplary injury and illness prevention programs - achieved the following results from their programs:
- Reduced number of injuries and illnesses
- Improved regulatory requirements compliance
- Improved business and cost savings
- Reduced workers' compensation premiums
- Reduced administrative and human resources burden associated with filing injury and illness reports
- Improved efficiency in operations and material use, and improved productivity
- Improved workplace environment
- Improved reputation and image in the community
Here are some tips to get started with your own prevention program.
7 Tips to Reduce Injuries in the Workplace
#1: Engage Management and Employees
Creating a safety-conscious culture starts at the top of any organization. You will need a clear commitment from top management to allocating resources and participating in health and safety at work. But it doesn’t end with management. Everyone should take responsibility for workplace safety and specific employees and managers should be tasked with implementing, maintaining and improving workplace safety program components.
#2: Analyze Your Operation
Your business is unique, and so are the safety risks it faces. Take the time to evaluate your business from top to bottom. Talk to your employees about their safety concerns. Review your equipment and employee activities. Go over previous workplace injury reports and identify the places your business needs to focus on safety.
#3: Implement Drug Testing
Did you know that the annual cost to U.S. employers for on-the-job drug abuse is $100 billion? If you’re not implementing drug testing and background screening as part of your new hire process, now’s the time to start. According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), 65% of all work-related accidents are the direct result of substance abuse, so drug screening has the potential to severely reduce your incidents of workplace injuries.
#4: Clean House
Good housekeeping at your workplace is essential to reducing injuries. When hazards are identified, they need to be addressed immediately. That could mean removing a potential hazard, cleaning a spill, or fixing equipment that isn’t working properly. Mitigating hazards will be an ongoing part of your workplace safety efforts. Even floor surfaces, good lighting, and unobstructed walkways are essential to preventing trips, slips, and falls.
#5: Train Employees
Whether you have 3 employees or 300, they should receive safety training and learn how to identify hazards in the workplace. Employees should be aware of the potential hazards they could face in the workplace, when operating specific equipment, and while performing their roles. Don’t forget first-aid training can make all the difference in the event of an incident; empower your employees to respond effectively if an accident does occur.
#6: Review and Improve
The most successful workplace safety programs are ones that are constantly reviewed and revised. Employees should be encouraged to report newly identified hazards. Injury reports should be reviewed to find areas for improvement in the existing program.
#7: Communicate and Champion
Keep an open line of communication with employees and managers. When employees take responsibility and show leadership in areas of workplace safety, be sure to show your “safety champions” that their dedication is appreciated. Get them involved in ongoing safety practices, developing procedures, and implementation of new processes.
Safety in the workplace is crucial to the success of your business, no matter its size, specialty, or industry. When you make workplace safety a priority, you can reduce injuries, cut costs, and improve productivity. And that’s just good business.