Even though work-related injuries and deaths are at an all-time low, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 3 out of every 100 employees reports a work-related injury or illness each year. As an employer, it is your duty to ensure that you equip your employees with the right knowledge so they can perform their work safely. Establishing a workplace safety plan will save you a lot of money in health costs and lost work time.
And in fact, a violation of workplace safety practices can cost your business as much as $135,000 in penalties from OSHA if the case is reported to them. A safe workplace is a productive one. In this post, we will go over the 7 things you should know about setting up a workplace safety plan.
Conduct a job safety analysis
What do your employees do on a daily basis? Document your processes from beginning to the end.
- Identify the basic steps involved in the job.
- Identify where there are potential hazards.
- What environmental and engineering controls can you put in place to reduce those hazards? If the hazard can be eliminated completely, this is the best way to prevent it from becoming an issue at all.
- Will your employees need safety/protective equipment while they work? Make those items readily for employees to use.
Establish and document standard operating procedures for common tasks
Your business will be more productive if your employees have standard procedures for performing common tasks at work. As an employer or manager, you should establish standard procedures (SOPs) that give step-by-step guidelines on how things should be done. It is helpful if these SOPs are documented and posted in areas where your employees can see them.
Establish processes and procedures for scenarios
Do your employees know what to do when there is an active shooter in the building? How about what they should do if there is an earthquake? As an employer, you should have documented processes and procedures that should be followed in such scenarios.
Establish common hazard safeguards
Workplaces are different and so are the associated hazards. In some workplaces, there may be a higher risk for falls. In another, fire/extreme heat might be another hazard employees have to face. Thus, you will need to set up standards and guidelines that protect your employees from specific hazards. Thankfully, OSHA has standards you can adapt to suit your workplace for each of these types of work-related hazards. Check out their page here to learn their top 10 standards for the most common work-related hazards.
Establish a safety committee and regular inspections
Many large institutions have Employee Health and Safety (EHS) offices which focus on creating and enforcing safety precautions. Even if your business is small, it is helpful if you have a 2-3-person safety committee that is entrusted with the work of coming up with safety standards and inspecting your work environment to make sure employees are following those standards.
Training of employees
If an incident happens at work, the first question an investigator is going to ask is “Did this employee receive adequate training to do the job?” Research has shown that newer employees are more likely to encounter work-related injuries and illnesses as compared to employees who have been around longer. Thus, it makes sense to train newer employees on everything we have discussed above: standard operating procedures, protective gear and equipment, processes and procedures during dangerous scenarios, where to locate work safety documentation etc. Giving them this training at the very beginning has the best impact on reducing work-related injuries and illness.
Keep injury and illness logs
Per OSHA regulations, your business must keep a log of work-related injuries and illnesses. These logs need to contain what happened to the employee who has sustained the injury or illness in clear language so that if the issue is ever brought up in court, there will be no ambiguity as to what happened. The OSHA form 300 is a useful form you can download and use in keeping records of injuries and illnesses sustained in your workplace. You will also need to fill out an Incident Report using OSHA form 301. In both the case of the log and the Incident Report, you will have to work with your employee on the details to ensure the information captured is correct.
Nobody should get sick, be permanently injured or die in the process of obtaining a paycheck. Putting the right safety plan in place prevents this and ultimately helps your business make more money. If you found this post helpful, share it with another employer looking to keep their workplace safe.