Because workplace accidents can increase a small company's operating costs in several ways while also reducing employee morale, preventing accidents should be a high priority for companies of all sizes.
The most effective way to deal with potential safety risks in a workplace is to evaluate conditions carefully with an eye toward eliminating or reducing any risks. While it may not be possible to make a workplace completely risk-free, prudent measures should be taken to reduce avoidable hazards and to train workers on the safe performance of their job functions.
These measures, along with being an important part of a workplace safety effort, will also help a company meet safety requirements by federal and state regulators. Along with federal mandates to maintain a safe workplace by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers may also be responsible to state and some local safety regulators as well.
As another benefit, workplace safety efforts can also help reduce insurance premiums. Working closely with your insurance company to improve safety and loss control efforts can result in lower costs as well as, more importantly, a safer workplace.
An important early step in reducing potential safety hazards is identifying them. Safety professionals recommend taking a careful look at your workplace, indoors and out, to identify any potential hazards or areas where workers can injure themselves.
Common hazards often include areas where workers can trip, fall or otherwise cause an accident. Check to see that unused tools are put away, and that your machinery maintenance is up to date.
Preventing and controlling hazards often involves a multistep process that includes:
- Eliminating the risk by updating equipment or installing safety features on existing machinery
- Reducing risk by locking down equipment during maintenance procedures
- Changing work practices to reduce exposure to hazards
- Mandating the use of personal protective equipment
If you need professional help in surveying your workplace for risk, your company’s insurance carrier has safety professionals to identify potential hazards or areas that need improvement.
Another helpful step is working with your insurance advisors, OSHA or other resources to identify industry-specific risks your company faces. Understanding risk is an important step in reducing workplace accidents.
Effective employee training can also help reduce the number and severity of workplace hazards while improving employees' attitudes toward workplace safety.
New employees must be taught how to use machinery safely, and all workers should understand how to respond after an accident. For example, they should know the location of first-aid kits and fire extinguishers to help prevent minor incidents from escalating into major problems.