September 13th, 2021

Creating a Safe and Healthy Workplace

There are a variety of ways a workplace can become unsafe — not just from Covid-19. Though these days that is the main focus for workplace safety and health. But many workplace safety issues are preventable — only if you get ahead of the problem. Learn why workplace safety is critical to your business’s success and understand how you can identify safety risks and protect your people and business. 

Why Workplace Safety and Health Is Important

Many safety concerns create risk and liability for an organization. But of course, safe working conditions should be a human right. You want to take care of your employees so they can help take care of your business. 

In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses report. This report found that there were 2.8 million workplace injuries in 2018 and 3.4 workers’ compensation claims filed for every 100 full-time employees. The National Safety Council equates this to a potential cost of $1,100 per worker for unsafe working conditions. 

But the cost of workplace safety risks can be extended beyond a single incident. Due to the potential emotional and physical toll of unsafe work situations, workers aren’t able to perform their job, and as a result productivity and profits decline.

How Your Workplace May be at Risk

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupations with the largest number of injuries or illnesses as a result of their workplace include those dealing with heavy machinery, janitorial or maintenance work, construction, retail, and healthcare. So if your business is in any of these categories, you’ll want to pay special attention to workplace safety.

The most common workplace injuries are sprains, strains, tears, soreness or pain, and cuts caused by overexertion, falls, or equipment. But there are a variety of ways your workplace can be unsafe. Even workplace violence, harassment, and intimidation count. But the typical classification for workplace hazards and those commonly resulting in workplace compensation claims include: 

  • Physical or Ergonomic Hazards: Related to the way your job strains your body — both blue-collar and white-collar workers are at risk for these types of hazards. Such examples include sitting or standing for long periods, blocked safety exits, or overly strenuous manual labor.
  • Chemical Hazards: Includes any exposure to chemicals in the workplace, whether it’s a solid, liquid, or gas. Chemical hazards are more of a threat for specific industries such as waste management, construction, fabricators, food production, and chemical plants.   Such examples include lead exposure in construction and the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning purposes. 
  • Biological Hazards: Hazards that come from work with people, plants, or animals — most common for veterinary or healthcare workers.  But in a world with COVID-19 this kind of threat is now all too familiar. Other examples include unsanitary working conditions or incorrect disposal of bodily fluids. 

If you can identify some of the hazards above in your workplace and what is most likely to result in injury or illness in your type of business, it’ll be easier to learn what you’ll need to do to protect against workplace safety issues. 

How to Protect Your Employees

First and foremost, you’ll have to adhere to any relevant OSHA regulations and guidelines for state laws and regulations for your location and industry of work. Many industries and states will have specific requirements. 

  1. Compile a list of the specific federal, state, or OSHA-specific laws and regulations you’ll need to adhere to. Then outline the list of hazards above and identify if any potential risks of exposure to those hazards exist in your workspace. These will be unique to your industry or place of business. 
  2. You or your HR representative should put together a health and safety program that includes the policies and procedures that should be followed for any high-risk activities identified and how to be compliant. Incorporate these in your employee handbook and have employees review and acknowledge them. For example, your handbook could outline what observations of their surroundings employees should make when on the job, the frequency of their breaks, what detailed procedures they should adhere to when handling equipment, and what personal protective equipment is provided, and when it’s necessary.
  3. Facilitate or create a training program for employees and supervisors on your health and safety program on an annual basis and in the case of new employee onboarding. 
  4. Last of all, clearly communicate how employees should voice concerns or have a means for employees to report incidents.

How to Protect Your Business

Protecting your employees is protecting your business! Workplace safety prevents issues that could lead to more costs, productivity, and compliance issues. But just in case something were to happen, have a workers’ compensation program in place. Or hire an HR partner to confidently handle issues for you. 

An HR partner can manage your workers’ compensation program to protect your people while managing your costs. This makes it easier to file claims and reports, communicate coverage and care with your employee, and facilitate employees’ return to work or not. A good HR partner will also stay up to date on changing laws and regulations around workplace safety for you and help you get compliant. 

To learn more about how we can support your workers’ compensation program, reach out to us today

Download Our eGuide: Creating a COVID Vaccine Policy for Your Workplace

With vaccination requirements changing and impacting your employees' health, review our eGuide on how to create a vaccine policy for your workplace.

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