How to Avoid Personal Injury in the Workplace

May 14, 2019
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‘How to Avoid Personal Injury in the Workplace’

Regardless of the industry you’re in, every business is at risk of workplace accidents. In spite of what you may think, workplace injuries are not just reserved for those in high-risk jobs, and while it may be true that those working on a construction site may be more at risk than those working in an office, the gravity of workplace safety should be the same in every business.

Workplace injuries can have a significant impact on your business, and it’s not just compensation payouts where your finances can take a hit. Low employee morale, reduced productivity and time spent negotiating compensation can be just as costly to your business as the payout itself.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

The age-old adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’ is certainly the case in this situation. So many businesses neglect taking basic steps to prevent workplace injuries despite the fact that a few simple tweaks could save a whole load of pain to both employer and employee. In fact, studies show that for every dollar invested in workplace safety, businesses actually save between $3 and $10 dollars.

So, what steps can you take in your business to minimize workplace accident and injuries? Here are 7 simple rules that your business should live by to reduce accidents in your workplace.

1. Create a Solid Health and Safety Plan
The first step to avoiding workplace accidents and injuries is making sure that the entire staff is on the same page when it comes to safety. The best way to do this is with a Health and Safety Management Plan.

Document everything that your staff needs to understand and adhere to in order to keep themselves safe at work. Consider the types of hazards employees may face while at work and outline exactly how they should deal with these situations. Create a manual of best practices detailing how they should conduct themselves while at work.

That said, businesses can’t just create a plan and forget about it. If employees are not fully aware of its contents, and hence are not observing your safety rules, it becomes a pointless exercise. As an employer, you are responsible for enforcing the plan and ensuring adequate repercussions are awaiting those not adhering to it.

2. Provide Safety Equipment
For those on building sites and environments with obvious hazards, considering the types of safety equipment needed can be a no-brainer. But for businesses primarily in offices or ‘safe’ environments, understanding safety equipment requirements can be a little trickier.

It’s important to consider that not all injuries involve a specific incident and can develop over time. Those sitting at desks, working at a computer all day are at risk of sustaining a multitude of injuries if they don’t have access to equipment, such as chairs and computer equipment, while they work.

3. Keep A Clean Workplace
Trip and fall hazards around the workplace are among the most common causes of workplace accidents, yet they’re some of the easiest to remedy.

Clutter and general untidiness pave the way for employees to hurt themselves as they navigate obstacles which simply should not be there!

Set a standard for your employees and ensure you encourage your entire staff to keep their environment clean and tidy. Many employers choose to install signs to act as a reminder that employees are responsible for keeping a specific area clean and clear.

4. Maintain Company Equipment
So many injuries in the workplace happen as a result of ill-maintained equipment. This is especially the case for businesses who run company vehicles, who have a combined annual accident bill of over $60 billion per year, according to The Occupational Health & Safety Act findings.

While keeping your equipment well-maintained may seem a costly and unnecessary exercise, the ramifications of a lawsuit resulting from your company’s negligence could well be more than just financially impactful. Criminal charges have been brought against employers who chose to do nothing about known hazards which resulted in the serious injury or death of an employee.

5. Ensure Staffing Levels Are Adequate
Cutting corners can be a precursor to workplace injuries, as can exhaustion; both common traits of over-worked employees and workplaces with inadequate staffing levels. While employees may love the overtime you can provide, it is your duty as an employer to ensure they are doing this to a safe level. Staff members who are constantly working hours surplus to their regular working hours are at risk of fatigue and hence are at higher risk of sustaining an injury at work.

Further to this, if you do not have enough staff to get the job done during working hours, staff who are on shift may end up cutting corners as they struggle with the workload and strive to get everything done. Unfortunately, trading speed for quality of work is a breeding ground for accidents.

6. Identify Safety Weaknesses
Every business is unique and their individual workplace safety requirements will differ across the board. As an employer, it’s your job to find your company’s individual weak-points and put measures in place to either rectify them or highlight them to staff to raise their awareness and minimize injury.

7. Don’t Set and Forget
With the fluidity of modern business and our ever-changing workplaces, safety plans must evolve, and employers and employees must understand that the risk outlined in their training and safety manual may not be the only risks that they face in their day-to-day. Complacency is a catalyst for accidents.

Realistically, health and safety this is an ongoing responsibility, and while you should lead the way for ensuring a level of safety is observed, you cannot have eyes and ears everywhere. It’s crucial that you train your staff so that they are aware of the importance of, not only adhering to safety plans, but also observing vigilance when it comes to identifying potential hazards and taking adequate steps to rectify them.

With that in mind, you must ensure that you conduct regular training with your staff and provide the right channels of communication for employees when they do identify a problem.

If Workplace Injuries Do Occur

Despite taking all the cautions possible, unfortunately, workplace accidents and injuries are inevitable at some point. You should be just as prepared for the aftermath of an incident as you are with prevention.

Medical Attention First
Obviously, ensuring your employee receives the right medical attention immediately after their accident is paramount. Many employers can instantly consider the financial implications of their employee’s accident while in their duty of care, but not seeking treatment for their staff member as the first port of call will not only be detrimental to the injured party, but may also ultimately bring further legal issues for the employer in the steps that are to come.

Cooperate
Your employee may not seek compensation, but if they do, it is advised that you cooperate fully with their attorney and the compensation process. That said, you may also be wise to seek your own legal advice from a specialized employment attorney to help you navigate the road, and ensure that your rights as an employer are not violated.

Welcome Employees Back
Many employee compensation cases can take months to settle, and during this time, an employee may wish to return to work. If this is the case, you must welcome the employee back, having not only remedied the hazard which caused their injury, but also providing any equipment they may need as a result of their injury.

Many employers can take a lawsuit against them personally but it’s so important to remember that employees are legally entitled to file a claim for compensation if they have been injured in your workplace. Make sure you make them feel welcome when they return to work; any animosity felt by your employee could result in further, potentially more damaging, legal action.

How to Avoid Personal Injury in the Workplace
Source: HR.com Articles

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