Your Safety Matters: 7 Key Measures to Prevent Work-Related Injuries
Accidents occur without any warning, and they can happen anytime and anywhere.
Each day, millions of people leave the comfort of their homes to hustle for their daily bread with anticipation to return home safely. Unfortunately, we underestimate the various accidents that can occur at our workplaces.
Millions of workers in different sectors like oil and gas refineries, airlines, mines, manufacturing facilities, food distribution hubs, and others suffer from exposure to hazardous substances and other risks.
That said, a single accident in any business has a serious impact on productivity, morale, and can create significant medical bills, trauma and losses. Sometimes, it may even lead to the closure of the business, especially if there is protracted litigation or large payouts.
While business owners may be unable to provide a 100% safe haven for their workers, they can develop proper safety protocols and provide the right tools and equipment that can go a long way in lowering injury risk.
In this article, we will explore the seven key measures to prevent work related injuries.
Understanding work-related injuries
Some common workplace-related injuries include
Strains are among the most common workplace injuries. These include; Neck and back strains due to work overload, lifting heavy stuff, or working without proper lifting equipment and techniques.
Falls and slips
The impact of falls and slips can be a significant liability to a company. Falling may lead to back injuries, fractured bones, head injuries, and in severe cases, can be fatal.
Most of the falls occur due to
Slippery and wet floors
Loose floor and mat coverings
Obstacles and obstructions, including cables
Peels and pins
Repetitive use injuries
Repetitive use injuries occur when you perform the same task over and over, such as in an assembly line. Any movement done many times without proper rest periods can lead to repetitive use injury.
Box cutters, letter openers, paper cuts, knives, and other sharp edged tools and other sharp-edged equipment found in workplaces can cause cuts, some of which can be severe.
Crashes and collisions
Workplace crashes and collisions occur primarily with trailers, forklifts, and other mobile machinery.
Strategies to prevent work-related injuries
Create a wellness and safety plan
The foundation of a safe workplace is a well-outlined wellness and prevention program. The program should cover all the health and safety aspects, and it should contain procedures like:
Alerting the management to a possible hazard
Completing all safety-related tasks
Documenting all safety incidents
Outline emergency exits
Practice frequent drills
Create a system that accounts for your employee’s whereabouts
Outline safety procedures through training and make the workers understand the inherent risks and the actions to take in case injuries occur.
Remember that risks are multifactorial, and having documented plans ensures the management and employees’ expectations get met, thus preventing miscommunication and legal/financial battles.
Hold regular safety training seminars
Educating your team members on any potential hazard in the workplace is advisable since it enables them to understand all the risks associated with their jobs and ways of reducing injuries.
In addition, regular training also informs employees of the current safety policies and reinforces them. According to your industry, these may include:
Proper lifting techniques
Procedural ways of handling hazardous materials
Location of the office emergency equipment like AED machines and fire extinguishers
Request for pre-employment physicals
For all demanding positions, it is advisable to request potential employees to undergo specific mental and physical screening before signing the contract. This ensures the employees can comfortably handle the position and its demands, without excessive risk of injury.
For example, truck drivers must continually pass health screening, while pilots need proper hearing and vision tests.
Some notable pre-employment physical tests include
Hearing and vision tests
Lung capacity test
Medical history review
Alcohol and drug screening
Grip and pull strength test
Employees working in challenging labor positions require physical and mental tests annually.
Identity potential safety concerns
Frequently doing safety evaluations of the work environment helps in identifying the possible hazardous trends and working on them before they become an accident.
Keep records of any safety violations and use them to modify your company safety and wellness plan.
Ensure you have records of any safety concerns and address them immediately; doing so can pinpoint artificial incidents and take proper action.
Inspect and regularly service all machinery and motor vehicles, and replace any worn out parts to ensure they work in perfect condition.
To identify these, you need:
Frequently walk around your business premises looking for potential dangers like open holes or unwanted loose wires.
Hire a safety and wellness consultancy to evaluate your workplace
Have an immediate reporting system of any breakdowns
Provide your employees with proper protective gear
It’s advisable to ensure your employees have the proper and approved personal protective equipment for their safety. Such protective gear may include
Ensure that all employees are well trained on using their protective gear and frequently perform unannounced audits to ensure they have worn and used them well.
Additionally, you may also need to provide other safety equipment in their working environment, like first aid kits, traffic cones, and signs.
Remember to also install proper lighting in all working areas, footpaths, parking areas, outdoor spaces, entrances, and exits, and in case employees work in the field, ensure they carry proper lighting equipment like headlamps or spotlights.
Additionally, all employees should dress according to the weather and job conditions. Train your employees to always wear proper clothing. For example, when outside during a hot climate, they need to wear breathable, lightweight clothes.
However, those working in cold environments should adapt to wearing warm layers, and those who move around a lot need flexible clothing to allow them to crawl, bend, and reach things easily.
Employ enough staff, including a safety officer
Understaffing is a recipe for injuries and accidents. It’s vital to prevent accidents by ensuring your organization has enough staff. Having enough staff ensures that each assignment is completed on time and adequately without overwhelming anyone.
It also prevents repetitive use injuries since the employees have time to take frequent breaks. Well-rested employees are more focused, productive, and engaged, thus reducing accidents and increasing your profits.
Additionally, it’s advisable to employ a safety officer to help consistently maintain safety and accident prevention.
A safety officer’s primary duty is determining risks, developing proper safety plans and guidelines, implementing safety procedures, and enforcing the documented policies.
Additionally, a safety officer ensures the company complies with the laid down state and federal safety guidelines and regulations according to your industry. In case of an incident, it’s advisable to engage a personal injury lawyer to advise on the best way forward.
Keep the working premises organized and clean
Maintaining a workplace that’s organized and clean can prevent unwanted accidents from occurring. Make proper cleaning procedures part of every employee’s responsibility.
Additionally, employ cleaning staff. All workplaces should be free from spills and clutter, tripping hazards like loose wiring or rugs.
In industrial or warehouse settings, provide ideal cleaning stations throughout to ensure spills get cleaned up fast.
Also, perform regular inspections.
Final thoughts on preventing work-related injuries
Preventing workplace injuries is vital for both employees and employers. It’s advisable to have laid down safety and health guidelines, which are also legal requirements.
Consider having staff injury insurance to cover unexpected injuries, which can provide the business owners with financial relief and ensure the workers get compensated accordingly.
Protect your business always by following the above safety and health measures. Remember, your workers’ safety matters, and so does your business.