How – and Why – to Keep your Workplace a Safe Place
September 9, 2011
A furniture store worker smashes his hand while moving boxes. A restaurant server slips on a slick surface. An office worker loses her footing and tumbles down the steps. A mechanic strains his back changing tires.
Unfortunately, workplace injuries aren’t uncommon. Not only do they happen in work environments like manufacturing plants, but also in traditional office settings.
When you run your own business, you’re responsible for your employees’ day-to-day safety and welfare. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt on the job; not only is it awful to see a colleague injured, it can also trip up your business operations and lead to costly workers’ compensation claims.
According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), about six million employees are hurt on the job each year, with strains, sprains, tears and cuts, as well as broken bones and head injuries.
“The best strategy is preventing accidents in the first place,” says Mike Bova, a commercial underwriting vice president at Erie Insurance, who has 26 years of risk control experience. “A solid prevention program demonstrates your commitment to your employees’ welfare and can save money on your insurance and health care costs.”
To make your work place safer, know the three common areas of risk: people, places and practices.
In any business, employees and managers share responsibility for safety. Together, you should:
- Always follow safe workplace practices.
- Offer prevention and wellness activities.
- Watch for - and eliminate - any danger zones.
- Support open and honest communication about safety.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good communication, says Donna Urben, workers compensation product manager at ERIE.
“Once the employees understand that you’re concerned about their well-being, they’ll feel less stressed and more empowered to create and maintain a safe working environment. They tend to generate the ideas that are the most effective.”
A safe place
Heavy equipment, electrical hazards and even keyboards can pose health threats to your employees. For a safer work environment:
- Conduct routine maintenance and housekeeping measures.
- Make sure employees have equipment that’s in good working order.
- Educate workers on identifying hazards and risks.
- Make sure employees wear necessary protective equipment.
“From the chairs your Employees sit on to the tools they work with, make sure your employees feel comfortable in the workplace,” Bova says.
Practices from the top
Safety starts with a company’s leadership. To establish and communicate your vision and policies:
- Offer educational and training programs to improve employee health and safety (in some states, you could earn a safety credit or discount).
- Develop and implement a return-to-work program before injuries occur.
- Establish relationships with local health care providers who treat occupational injuries.
How we can help
All states require you to have a workers’ compensation policy to insure coverage for your employees against a workplace injury.
ERIE’s workers’ compensation program includes free access to risk control consultants, who can help you prevent losses by developing and putting into action a comprehensive safety program designed for your business. ERIE has more than 100 safety programs available, including:
- Workers’ compensation management
- Fall protection
- Personal protective equipment
- Risk identification and assessments
If an injury does happen, ERIE will help you and your employees recover quickly and with as little disruption as possible. The ultimate goal is to make sure injured workers receive the care necessary to return to the workforce in the shortest reasonable time.Contact an ERIE Agent for an insurance review. Let ERIE and your Agent make sure your company is protected properly.