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What Employers Need to Know: Four Steps to Prevent Workplace Injuries

Posted on May 1st, 2015 by Don Kunkel

Safety FirstAs an employer, you have moral, legal, and financial reasons to build a safe and healthy workplace. Employees who work in a safe space are productive and easier to retain.

But certain industries and environments are more prone to occasional injuries. If they lead to insurance disputes and legal battles, an independent medical evaluation (IME) may be required.

Below are four steps you can take to prevent workplace injuries:

1.     Establish a Health and Safety Policy

Employees must understand your dedication to their well-being. To help achieve this goal, write a formal health and safety policy.

There are certain sections that an effective health and safety policy must include. After a statement about the policy’s purpose, you must discuss specific approaches to eliminate unsafe practices and harmful physical demands.

For example, in an office environment, one tactic may be to encourage short computer breaks. By simply taking a moment to relax and stretch, employees can avoid conditions such as repetitive strain injury.

To make this approach tangible, designate safety responsibilities to managers and other employees. When elaborating on the computer break tactic, you may determine that it’s practical for managers to send occasional email reminders about the benefits of short pauses. Other employees would have the responsibility of actually taking them.

2.     Create a Health and Safety Committee

If your team has enough people, form a committee to enact your policy. Members should regularly meet and communicate.

The committee must set measurable goals and work to reach them.

For example, large organizations in risk-averse industries may suffer from a few minor employee injuries each month. The committee could set a goal to reduce the number of injuries to zero.

Actually reaching the goal, and successfully establishing a healthy workplace, is the real challenge. To do so, the committee should take actions described in the health and safety policy.

Depending on the environment, these could involve the promotion of:

  • Wearing proper protective gear
  • Stretching heavily-worked muscles
  • Using proper techniques when moving heavy objects
  • Changing positions after a period of limited activity
  • Writing with pen and paper after an hour of computer work

3.     Inspect Your Workplace

Occasionally look around your workplace for safety hazards. Depending on the hazard, remove it or teach employees how to improve their workstations to mitigate it.

The latter process is similar to an ergonomic assessment.

For some businesses, these hazards are an unavoidable reality. For others, they’re rare. Regardless, it’s your job to reduce the chance that someone will suffer an injury.

Here are some potential health and safety hazards to keep an eye out for:

  • Poor lighting
  • High noise levels
  • General messiness
  • Lack of safety gear
  • Improper equipment
  • Extreme temperatures

By inspecting your workplace, you can find and address safety threats before they hurt someone.

4.     Keep Improving

To achieve and maintain an injury-free workplace, it’s critical to constantly improve your health and safety efforts.

Properly acting after an incident is the best way to do so. You, and the committee, must answer questions about the accident. What caused it? Where did it happen? How did it transpire?

Find employees who witnessed the event and, if possible, those who were involved. Have a civil discussion with them to find facts. Never blame a particular person. Remember, you want to learn as much as possible and steer clear of harmful accusations that could be false.

Gather their ideas about how to avoid comparable accidents. If the suggestions are smart and doable, don’t hesitate to enact them.

Following these four steps will improve your efforts to create a happy and healthy workplace. As an employer, you can look forward to greater employee results as they suffer fewer work-related accidents.

>>Since 1991, AssessMed has assisted organizations by providing objective Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) services across Canada. Contact us today to learn about our suite of CARF-accredited offerings.

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