Employee safety is a high priority for many employers, especially companies covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. There are several steps businesses can take to proactively value employee safety. By taking these actions, you can create a safe work environment for your employees and reduce the risk of accidents. Here is our guide to proactively valuing employee safety!
What is the Difference Between Proactive and Reactive Safety?
There are two types of safety: proactive and reactive. In the past, reactive safety has been the most common. This is when companies handle accidents after they already happen. With rising worker’s compensation costs and OSHA fines, reactive safety is risky both in terms of finances and employee lives.
Proactive safety seeks to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Proactive safety includes things like safety training, safety procedures, and safety protocols. Because of the unpredictable nature of workplace injuries, safety protocols can decrease the risk of severe injuries and even death. Proactive safety allows employers and employees to be better prepared for accidents by anticipating the risks present in the workplace.
Identify Hazards in the Workplace
Identifying risks and hazards to employee health and safety is the first step to proactively valuing employee safety. Every industry has hazards, but identifying them can be difficult. Look at the worksite holistically and seek out areas for improvement. Walk through the site and assess the types and states of the equipment used, common work practices, and any other potential hazards.
Listen to Employees and Follow Through
Employees are on the front lines of their work. They likely recognize more risks in their workplace than their employers do. Work with your employees to address their safety concerns. Using a complaint box is an effective way to get employee input without making employees feel nervous. It is important to note that by OSHA regulations, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for reporting hazards, injuries, and deaths. Be sure your employees feel safe enough to report hazards to you.
After employees report hazards, work with them to address these hazards. If possible, remove the hazard from the worksite. If this is not possible, seek out ways to mitigate the effects of the hazard.
Prioritize Serious Injuries and Fatalities
In 2021, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries reported, which was an 8.9% increase from the previous year. Not all injuries are equal; fatal injuries are detrimental to a company’s reputation, finances, and even existence. Luckily, most hazards that cause fatal injuries can be eliminated from the worksite. If a hazard cannot be eliminated, try to substitute the action or engineer controls to reduce the impact of the hazard on employee safety. The last resort, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety hierarchy of controls, is to provide and require PPE.
Create a Safety Culture
A culture of safety involves directing every action and thought in the workplace toward safety. Developing a culture of safety takes time and training. Regular and creative training sessions can help solidify safety protocol in the minds of your employees. Safety training provides employees and employers with the tools and skills they need to operate safely in the workplace. Be sure to include thorough safety training and job shadowing as part of your onboarding process for new employees. Additionally, conduct weekly or monthly safety training sessions for current employees. Get creative with these sessions by introducing games, activities, and prizes.
The safety needs of every worksite are different, and identifying and reducing hazards can be difficult and time-consuming. Work Health Solutions can help you create a unique safety plan for your workplace!
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