Safety Programs

The best way to keep workers' compensation costs under control is to initiate a safety program. Back injuries are one of the most common in the workplace. All employees should be trained about the proper way to lift heavy items, which is to squat first and use your legs, not your back, when you lift something off the floor. A back brace should be issued to every employee who lifts items and they should be required to use it. There are braces on the market with shoulder straps so that the employee can release the belt when they don't need it, yet keep it handy for when they do.

Purchase a DVD about safety in the workplace and require all new employees to watch it before starting work. Choose a program based on the hazards that are prevalent in the workplace. This may include heavy equipment, lifting, climbing, use of chemicals, and other occupational hazards.

If your staff is large enough, put together a safety committee. The committee should meet monthly to discuss new and existing safety issues. Members should be assigned to make periodic safety inspections of all workstations, address violations, and take note of areas that need improvement. Minutes of the meetings should be prepared and kept on file to show a paper trail of the committee's effectiveness.

Here are a few common things in the workplace that are likely to cause an injury:

  • Drawers and cabinets that are left open

  • Liquid spills on the floor

  • Mats and rugs that do not lay flat

  • Exposed wires

  • Careless storage of chemicals

  • Overloaded electrical outlets

  • Hot items with no warning notices

Safety-awareness programs can help your company keep injuries to a minimum. Offer an incentive to employees who spot and report a hazard in the workplace. Keep track of accident-free days on a large announcement board and have a celebration when goals are achieved. For instance, for every 100 days that the office or facility is accident free, provide lunch for the entire staff and raffle off prizes. This may encourage employees to watch out for themselves and their coworkers as well.

Managers and human resource representatives should set a good example. Don't ask someone to clean up water on the floor — do it yourself. Intercept when you see someone picking up a box improperly or walking forward while talking to someone and paying no attention to the person coming in the other direction with a heavy cart. Be visible and aware of the conditions in which the employees are working. Your responsibility and concern to provide a safe environment will be noticed and appreciated.

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