Safety at work should be a focus for every business owner every day. Employers pay an estimated almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
This $1 billion can be broken into two categories: direct costs, such as workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses or legal costs and indirect costs that include loss of productivity, accident investigations, hiring and training replacement employees and low morale.
Serious non-fatal work-related injuries cost $58.5 billion in worker’s compensation costs, according to the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, which has been done for 18 years. This is a slight increase from 2017 when total costs of all disabling workplace injuries fell to $59.9 billion in 2017, from $61.9 billion in 2016, according to last year’s Index.
The leading single cause of injury is overexertion, which costs businesses $13.67 billion in direct costs, followed by falls (two different types) at a combined direct cost of $17.08 billion.
Workplace accidents, especially those with serious injury or fatality, have impacts that ripple throughout the company as those that are impacted deal with psychological stress that may require years of counseling or the inability to return to the worksite for a significant period of time, which presents additional costs to the company through the abrupt loss of skilled workers, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers White Paper on Return on Safety Investment.
There are nine simple things you can do to make your workplace safer for your employees:
- Educate your employees and provide proper, ongoing training about safety and emergency procedures. You can never talk about safety and discuss safety practices too much.
- Keep floors and walkways clear by tucking away wires, trash cans or anything else someone can trip on.
- When moving computers or equipment around, inspect wires that can get worn. Worn wires are an electric shock and fire hazard waiting to happen.
- Review the ergonomics of workstations. Ergonomic safety includes proper positioning of the computer monitor so employees are looking at them straight on at eye level; keyboards should be positioned so the hands are normally spaced and sitting comfortably on a wrist support pad. Order a headset for those employees who are on the phone more than 50 percent of the time to prevent neck and shoulder strain.
- Office chairs should be in good working order. If chairs are rolling, there should be a minimum of five casters for optimum balance and smooth movement. Plastic chair mats are recommended to reduce strain on legs and lower back when moving. If chair mats are in place, remind employees to hold the chair when sitting so it doesn’t roll away.
- Keep doors free of storage materials—most offices have an area no one uses near the back door that becomes a storage area for old files and junk. In case of fire or other emergency, employees have a second exit to use. Ensure employees know how to open the door quickly.
- Annual servicing of fire extinguishers and alarms can save lives.
- Test emergency lighting monthly. This is especially important if you have experienced a power outage that has lasted more than four hours. Emergency lights run on battery, so an extended outage will drain the batteries.
- Make sure your signage is up to par, especially if you have different levels in your office. Ensure there is proper signage to avoid trips or slips and paint the edge of the area yellow to draw attention to the area.
Safety is so important that there is an annual day dedicated to it. World Day for Safety and Health at Work is April 28.
If the greatest risk your employees face is the odd papercut from an errant file folder, you could use this World Day for Safety and Health at Work to truly think strategically about your workplace safety and compliance. This is where we come in!
Abel HR makes workplace safety our priority with a dedicated safety manager on staff who helps with all workplace safety needs. Specifically, we perform on-site safety inspections, conduct training and on-the-job hazard analysis, and provide occupational health consultations for industrial hygiene and optimal worker health. We can also offer education and compliance training for maintaining safety standards and inspections, OSHA compliance, accident investigations and drug testing for every client and their employees.
Further, should an accident occur, we have the capacity to perform our own thorough investigation, handle any associated claims and payouts, and otherwise handle the administrative burden often associated with this process.
Want to reduce your risk? We’ll happily come in and provide safety training for management and employees.
To learn more about our workplace safety checks, contact us here.