The National Safety Council has designated the month of April as Injury Prevention Month. It is sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons/ American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOC).
For small businesses, this is an excellent time to re-examine current safety standards and explore areas where improvements as possible to prevent workplace injuries.
The Facts about Workplace Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were nearly 3 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses among private employers in 2012. This number is down from 2011 thanks, in large part, to efforts to educate employers and employees on the importance of workplace safety.
What Can Small Businesses Do to Prevent Injuries?
The injuries themselves are problem enough, combined with missed work, medical expenses, and lost morale among other employees, the costs can add up quickly for small businesses in particular. Here’s what your small business can do to reduce injury risks.
Identify workplace risks and hazards. Take time to explore your workplace and look for areas where safety improvements need to be made. Revisit it often, particularly when you implement new procedures or equipment.
Create policies that promote safe practices. This is a good time to update employee handbooks and create new policies that reward safe practices in the workplace while establishing escalating consequences for employees who fail to comply with the policies you’ve created.
Educate employees about injury prevention. Make the education specific to your business. Whether you’re educating about the importance of ergonomics and the risks of carpal tunnel syndrome, you’re teaching employees about proper lift and bending techniques, or providing instructions about how to properly use the safety equipment your company provides and requires, education is the key to compliance.
Don’t forget to educate employees on the policies your business has established concerning safety and injury prevention. It’s important to have these policies, but it’s equally important to ensure your employees know what those policies are.
Maintain equipment. Improperly maintained equipment easily breaks causing all manner of damage to other equipment and injuries to employees. It can also cause your business to halt, and without business interruption insurance, you can be left to bear the burden of lost income. Maintenance is another type of prevention. Also encourage employees to conduct pre-shift inspections of equipment to check for signs of possible problems.
Small businesses today have a lot on your plate. No matter how dedicated you are to educating employees about the importance of safety and injury prevention practices, all businesses need workers’ compensation insurance in case employees are injured on the job.