Workplace injuries are more commonplace than you may think. You don’t have to be working on a construction site or in a potentially dangerous environment to be at risk of suffering one either. Unfortunately, if a workplace injury does happen, the consequences of it can be huge. A workplace injury could mean that an employer is liable for workers compensation and medical bills. The productivity lost as a result is also a large detrimental factor. There are ways to deal with injuries, so, how can injuries at work be prevented?
Ensure that Employees Receive Thorough Health & Safety Training
Health and safety training videos are often mocked and laughed at by employees. Oftentimes, they feature cartoon-like scenarios of a worker lifting something heavy or slipping on a banana peel. Though encouraging your employees to watch such videos may be met with protests like “why do we need this?” or “of course we know that!”, it is critical to reinstil the importance of common sense and safety awareness in the workplace.
Display Safety Signs in Important Areas
There are some areas and activities in the workplace that require additional considerations surrounding a person’s safety. For example, the warehouse environment may require the use of high visibility clothing and a hard hat. Similarly, employees should be mindful of how they bend and lift when moving heavy boxes around. Truth be told, your employees should be aware of these occasions anyway, but safety signage provides a firm but gentle reminder.
Ensure that Protective Equipment is Readily Available
Following on from point 2, there is no use in reminding your employees to wear hard hats if there is no equipment available. If your employees have to go through a lot of hassle to locate the required equipment, there is a greater chance of them deciding not to use it. Storage closets and bins with the necessary equipment should be provided for employees at the entrance to the zone where it is required.
Work on Risk Mitigation
The key is to prevent injuries before they happen, not learn lessons about them retrospectively. This means organizing periodic workplace audits to check that everything is as it should be. For example, checking that no new workspace changes pose a threat – through loose wires blocking walkways, potential fire hazards, etc.
Consider Workplace Physicals as Required
For your employees that work in specific sectors of the organization, introducing workplace physicals as part of the onboarding process is a nice idea. This helps to ensure that the people you hire are fit for the roles that you hire them for.
It would be particularly problematic if you hired someone with a history of back problems to fill a role where they are frequently having to lift and move heavy objects. Where employees have minor health complaints, a physician can help the employer ensure that they are providing a safe work environment.
Educate Office Workers About their Workspace
Workplace injuries are not simply limited to manual labor type work. Office employees who are sedentary for the majority of the day are at just as much risk of injury as other types of workers. Common complaints of white-collar workers are back pain, eye strain, and repetitive strain injury. A lot of this can be avoided by ensuring that your workers set up their workstations correctly.
Appropriate back support and correctly assembled display screen equipment can eliminate a lot of the discomfort and injury risk of working in an office. There are even training videos and interactive software courses that you can show to new employees so that they know what to look for when setting up their work station.
Promote a “Clear Desk” Policy
A clear desk policy has its importance in reducing injuries in the workplace. Not only does such a policy aid in the overall better presentation, cleanliness, and orderliness of the work environment, it prevents small accidents. For example, piles of files and folders left all over desks and floors could topple onto employees or act as a trip hazard.
Since a clear desk policy offers maximum return for minimal effort, it is best to instigate this and have your workers clear their desks at the end of each evening. Files and folders should be stored away in desks and stationery cupboards
Periodically Check Vehicle Safety
Even in small to medium companies, it is likely that there are at least one or two vehicles that are owned by the business. From company pool cars to forklift vehicles, it is important to conduct regular checks on the safety of vehicles. A recent study conducted by The board of Occupational Safety and Health discovered that workplace driving accidents cost businesses over $60 billion dollars per year. Don’t be one of the companies that overlook the importance of this and suffer the consequences.
Hire Adequate Levels of Staff
Insufficient levels of staff can easily lead to an increase in injuries. In this context, injuries can relate to physical injuries in addition to more mental/emotional problems. Being overworked and understaffed in a particular department means that staff can find themselves frankly rushing from A to B and feeling overwhelmed. Problems such as anxiety and stress can arise. Similarly, when doing things under immense pressure, employees are likely to be less mindful of processes and safety considerations. As a result, workers become more accident prone.