When running a business, avoiding accidents is a top priority, but it’s not always easy, especially when you have a warehouse or factory with lots of moving parts. Workplace accidents occur more often than many business owners like to admit. There is an average of 5 million occupational injuries and illnesses each year in the U.S.
There are daily unknowns, and you can’t prevent every accident, no matter how conscientious you are. However, there are ways to limit the number of accidents in your workplace.
Here are some of the most effective.
1. Use the Right Equipment
Employees will do the best they can with the tools they’re given. Providing the right equipment for your organization is paramount to a safe working environment.
According to an article from Dalmec, a manufacturer of industrial equipment, having the right equipment can reduce accidents and save money. “In general, companies that install industrial manipulators see a decrease in injuries related to both accidents and employee mistakes,” it says. “Take Ford, for example. They saw a 70 percent reduction in assembly line injury rates when they incorporated lift assist technology into their production line safety plans.”
The article also says that low-quality machinery has the direct opposite effect, increasing injuries and costing plants more overall. It’s better to simply invest in high-quality equipment rather than trying to cut corners by purchasing cheaper, lower quality equipment.
2. Understand the Hazards
Every business will have unique hazards based on their equipment, policies, employees, and the nature of the industry. Doing thorough research into the hazards posed to your business will help you mitigate risk.
For example, the HSE says that slips and trips are the culprits of more than one-third of all workplace accidents. Slippery floors, trailing cables, poor lighting, and other environmental concerns are usually the cause. Recognizing these issues is the first step in stopping them.
3. Deal with Hazards Promptly
Once you’ve identified common types of accidents and risks associated with your business, make the necessary changes to improve safety. Start with the environmental problems, such as mopping up spills and taping down cables. Then work on updating equipment.
If you can’t afford to update your equipment and procedures all at once, order them from most important to least concerning and take care of each problem as quickly as you can-even if you have to take out a loan to do so.
4. Communicate Health and Safety Policies
All the safety protection in the world won’t make a difference if your employees don’t know how to act in a room full of hazards. Write safety policies and procedures that are easy to follow, and clearly outline the risks associated with each job.
Cultivate an environment of constant education. Hold regular trainings where you discuss the policies and procedures in clear detail. Don’t be afraid to teach employees about safety measures in action, addressing problems that you see on the floor immediately rather than waiting until later.
5. Reduce Workplace Stress
Employers often don’t connect stress with workplace injury and absenteeism. Unfortunately, it’s a huge issue for those at work, with more than 80 percent of workers reporting feeling work stress. About 40 percent report extreme workplace stress. When employees are put under such stress for a long period of time, it can lead to long-term mental injuries and absenteeism.
“In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating,” says an article from the American Psychological Association. “Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.”
Addressing stress at work is just as important as addressing physical safety. Hold trainings on stress management and provide your employees with the necessary tools.
6. Encourage Employee Input
There’s no better resource about workplace hazards and solutions than those who spend their entire days working among them. Your employees can provide a wealth of information about mitigating workplace stress and helping you spot vulnerabilities in your system that you might not see otherwise.
Institute an open-door policy so that employees feel comfortable sharing safety concerns. Consider a comment box so that employees can leave comments anonymously. Their feedback could prove invaluable in addressing primary health and safety concerns at work.