We live in an age of litigation and red tape, and it has never been more important to ensure you are taking all possible steps to reduce the possibility of workplace accidents involving your employees. Although you may be insured against employee accidents, it’s never fun being sued by one of them and it can often undermine relationships, especially in smaller companies and firms.
An accident, by its very definition, is something which takes place unintentionally, however, they cannot always be avoided. Not everything is foreseeable and, therefore, not everything can be prevented. That does not mean that you can reduce the likelihood of one happening, though. In fact, many of the common workplace injuries can be prevented by following basic safety precautions which are all too often overlooked.
There are thousands of deaths and injuries each year in the workplace and the legal system is always full of cases where employees are taking their employers to court in pursuit of financial remuneration.
When we think of workplace injuries and accidents, we naturally associate them with your typical high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing. However, they can occur in any workplace environment, from something as seemingly innocuous as an office to a shop floor and beyond. In industries with inherent risk, employers tend to take precautions seriously and it is these lower-risk jobs where corners are often cut, and regulations are ignored.
It is easy to prevent employee accidents though, and by taking a few simple steps you can ensure that the risk of workplace accidents is dramatically reduced.
#1: Ensure Workspaces Are Kept Clean and Tidy
This should always form part of your company policy – workplaces to be kept clean and tidy, and employees being responsible for any mess that they make. A lot of people don’t think that cleanliness and tidiness as something which can prevent accidents, but it seriously does minimize the chance of injury.
An unclean and messy workspace is more difficult to move around and it increases the risk of slips, trips, and falls, especially when you have clumsy employees. Keeping the office clutter free is as simple as ensuring walkways are not piled with boxes and files, that computer cables aren’t left running across rooms and that people do not let their personal items clutter up the community areas.
#2: Install Non-Slip Flooring
Although this applies more to certain industries and workplaces than others, it’s always a good idea, regardless of what your workers’ environment is, that the floor is non-slip. Slips, trips, and falls are by far the most common cause of workplace-related accidents and injuries and can easily be the most devastating. By having slip resistant flooring, you can cut the chances of these down dramatically.
In an office environment, this can be as simple as installing carpeting. However, for other workplaces such as kitchens and warehouses, there are specialist flooring types and treatments available which will make surfaces entirely non-slip for all types of footwear.
In addition to this, you can minimize the risk of slips and falls by ensuring employees wear certain types of shoe and that they form part of their core uniform. There are obviously certain types of footwear which are unsuitable for a warehouse or kitchen environment, and these shouldn’t be allowed.
#3: School Employees on Safety Procedures and Practices
Educating your employees on the importance of following certain safety procedures and being aware of the environment around them may seem like a pointless chore, but it can actually work. Employees who are aware of the dangers and risks inherent to their work environment are likely to look out for and avoid them. Nobody wants to be injured; it’s an unpleasant experience and it is natural to avoid it.
To further this awareness of any dangers which exist in your workplace environment, place clear signage around which reminds employees of any safety policies and procedures you have in place, and in areas where there are risks or hazards should these procedures not be followed and paid attention to.
#4: Have a Procedure for Reporting Potential Dangers
All employers should have an accessible and simple procedure for reporting problems in place and ensure that their employees are fully aware of its existence. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, and if an employee sees something they should be encouraged to report it so that it can quickly be rectified.
It is not enough to simply have this system in place, though. Most employees are aware that they should report an accident or danger which could cause an accident. However, it’s important that as the employer you encourage your staff to bring foreseeable dangers to your attention in the first instance. This way, you are aware of it before it causes an injury.
#5: Monitor the Workplace
Your employees cannot be expected to be your eyes and ears for potential dangers and it is your responsibility to monitor the workplace or delegate the task to somebody else.
This, in an inherently dangerous workplace, should be a dedicated full-time position (i.e. a safety inspector) where the person responsible monitors not only the workplace looking for incidents but watches employees to ensure that they are following all of your company’s policies on health and safety. Monitoring the workplace for dangers and improper conduct is a day-to-day task for several industries and is not something you should be doing as a manager or director.
Health, safety, and red tape are things we have grown accustomed to. Over the last few decades especially they have begun to play a more centric role in all industries. Long gone are the days of sending children up chimneys to sweep them. Today, health and safety is one of the main concerns of employers throughout most of the world, especially in the west, where companies are keen to avoid causing injuries to their employees and being open to the painful employers’ liability litigation process, which can cause insurance premiums to skyrocket.