Let’s play a game called 'How much do you know about workplace injuries?' According to the Bureau of Labor Statics:
1. How many fatal work injuries occurred in 2016?
2. How many non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in 2016?
A. Nearly 100,000
B. Nearly 1,000,000
C. Nearly 2,900,000
3. Which of the following is NOT a leading cause of non-fatal workplace injuries?
B. Exposure to harmful substances
D. Struck by object or equipment
If you answered nearly 2.9 million for question #2, that is the correct answer. Of those 2.9 million, 892,000 were severe enough to require days away from work. This is an average rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.
While exposure to harmful substances is a concern, it is not a leading cause of non-fatal workplace injuries. Falls, slips/trips, and being struck by object or equipment are top causes for workplace injuries, and in most cases these events are preventable.
While this quiz may be informative, workplace injuries are not a game. In fact, they frequently come with a high price tag that can significantly affect a company's bottom line.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that employers pay almost $1 billion (yes BILLION) per week for workers’ compensation costs. In addition to the medical expenses and legal services that employers expect to pay for injuries, they often don’t consider additional costs for lost productivity and revenue, training and possible replacement, administrative overhead, increased insurance premiums, and the soft cost of loss of employee morale. OHSA has developed an Estimated Impact on a Company’s Profitability Worksheet to help employers understand the potential impacts of workplace injuries.
Much can be done to help reduce or prevent workplace injuries. Some simple to implement strategies include:
- Establish documented safety policies and procedures, and make sure they are enforced, examined, and updated frequently.
- Create a safety committee that meets regularly to discuss existing issues, how to address them, and how to avoid future issues and hazards.
- Provide constant and reoccurring training for new and existing employees. This may include proper lifting techniques, how to handle hazardous material, and proper use of tools and equipment.
- Make sure employees have access to safety clothing, tools, and equipment at all times, as necessary.
- Be aware of the environment, keeping floors clean and dry as well as eliminating potential obstacles and making sure there is proper lighting.
- Listen to employees. Employees often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. They should be involved in evaluating and improving safety standards.
- Track incidents within the HR portion of your HCM software. Keeping a record of incidents can help you identify - and eliminate - harm-causing patterns.
Regardless of your industry, workplace safety should be a concern for all employers. You may think your office has a low risk of a workplace injuries, but slips, falls, overexertion while lifting, being hit by an object (even falling off a high shelf), and poor ergonomics are all very real possibilities.
For additional general guidance on reducing workplace injuries attend our complementary webinar,
Strategies for Reducing Workplace Injuries
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 11:00am PDT
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