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How to Keep Your Employees Safe at Work

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As a business owner or manager, you have a duty to keep your employees safe and healthy on the job. A failure to do so could lead to expensive medical bills, frustrating lawsuits, lower productivity, and depletion of trust. Thankfully, there are usually ways to avoid these scenarios.

5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Safe

Statistics show that workplace injury rates have been on the decline since 1972 (dropping by 75 percent); however, many jobs and work environments are still unsafe and dangerous. In total, there are 2.8 injuries per 100 full-time workers. (Though certain industries have much higher rates.)

Slips, trips, falls, overexertion, and contact with objects and equipment account for roughly 84 percent of all non-fatal workplace injuries. Car accidents, burns, and work-induced illnesses are other common causes.

The most dangerous industries in the United States include:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
  • Mining
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Construction
  • Wholesale trade
  • Leisure and hospitality
  • Retail trade
  • Utilities

As an employer, you can’t sit back and hope that injuries don’t happen. Whether you’re in one of the aforementioned industries or not, there’s always some level of risk. It’s your job to keep employees safe. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it could save you thousands of dollars in costly and time-consuming workers’ compensation cases.

With all of that being said, here are several ways you can keep your employees safe at work:

1. Invest in Comprehensive Training

Never assume that employees know the proper thing to do. Likewise, don’t assume that an employee is going to take the time to read a 75-page manual that you hand them on the day they’re hired. If you have safety procedures and precautions that you expect employees to observe, comprehensive training is a must.

Every employee, whether it’s their first day or they’ve been on the payroll for 10 years, must complete all safety training for their position. Ideally, this is in-person training with hands-on examples and practice. However, in a scenario where this isn’t possible, video-based training can do the job.

2. Join Forces With Occupational Clinicians

If you run a marketing agency, accounting firm, or some other company where all of your employees sit in offices or cubicles all day, you’re probably thinking their risk for injury is quite low. However, this is a misguided assumption. Thousands of workplace injuries occur each year as a result of poor posture and repetitive actions (like sitting at a desk and typing all day).

The best way to protect against occupational injuries such as muscle strains, back and neck pain, and wrist injuries is by partnering with occupational clinicians to improve your company’s workplace ergonomics. For more information, Mayo Clinic has a good guide on proper ergonomics.

3. Use Signs and Labels for Everything

Something that seems obvious to you as the business owner or manager might be totally foreign to an employee. Never assume that somebody understands what they should do. Signs and labels are an inexpensive way to communicate important information to employees. For example, you can use signage to indicate that a floor is wet/slick; that a machine is loud and requires ear protection; or that a certain part is hot and may cause burns.

4. Keep Clean Facilities

Cleaning isn’t the most fun topic, but it’s absolutely pertinent to your ability to keep employees safe at work. Clean facilities ensure there are fewer slipping or tripping hazards. They also neutralize bacteria and viruses that could potentially cause illness.

The thing about cleaning is that it doesn’t take much time when done every day. It becomes a burden when you go days or weeks between cleaning. For this reason, we recommend integrating cleaning procedures into your daily practices.

5. Walk the Walk

Never ask your employees to do anything or observe anything that you yourself do not. If you’re going to make a rule or require a particular safety procedure, you must be willing to walk the walk yourself. This is the mark of a true leader.

Adding it All Up

Employee safety should always be a priority. Even if you think you’re doing everything you can to keep employees safe, there are typically always additional improvements or tweaks that can be made. Be sure to keep a close eye on your processes, facilities, and employees at all times. Proactive decision making is often the difference in these situations.

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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