A workplace injury happens every 7 seconds on average, adding up to 4,600,000 injuries every year. Those injuries cost employers 104,000,000 lost production days.
Managing workplace injuries effectively can help prevent injuries in the first place. Having a plan for handling accidents once they happen can also help you get your employees back to work faster, which can help minimize lost productivity.
Keep reading for ways to managing accidental injuries in the workplace.
Establish and Enforce Proper Procedures
One way to prevent someone from getting hurt at work is to create procedures that reduce risk. This is especially important in hazardous work environments, such as manufacturing plants and construction areas, where accidents are more likely.
Start by researching the hazards and risks in every routine task your employees do. Create procedures for those tasks that reduce the likelihood of an injury. Find the safest way to handle each task.
Write those procedures into an employee manual to ensure everyone has the same information. Conducting regular training on the processes also helps ensure your employees know and follow the procedures. Get managers and supervisors on board with enforcing the procedures and retraining employees if they take shortcuts.
Reduce or Eliminate Hazards
Changes to the work environment can also reduce exposure to injuries in all work environments, from offices to dangerous factory situations.
Walk around the facilities looking at everything with a critical eye. Look for hazards such as cords that could cause someone to trip, unsecured hazardous chemicals, improperly labeled items, or narrow walkways. Think of ways you could improve the workplace to cut down on those risks.
Adding signs and markers around the workplace can also help. You might put colorful tape on stairs, uneven floors, or paths for forklifts in warehouse environments. Improved lighting can also help employees spot hazards and perform their jobs safely.
Adequate staffing is another way to reduce workplace injuries. If you’re short-staffed, employees might have to take on too many responsibilities, which reduces their awareness of potential hazards. Working overtime to compensate for inadequate staffing can make employees less alert and more prone to injuries.
Require Safety Equipment
For some jobs, personal protection equipment is necessary to keep employees safe. This might include things such as hard hats, eye protection, face shields, gloves, ear protection, back supports, tethers, and safety shoes.
Issuing this safety gear ensures that all of your employees have what they need and that their protective equipment is high quality. Enforce wearing the safety gear at all times, and ensure employees use the safety gear in the right way.
Establish an Accident Procedure
Put a plan in place to handle workplace accidents so employees know how to respond. Document the procedures for responding to an injury, assessing the severity, calling for help, and administering first aid. Having staff members who are first aid and CPR certified can allow for a quick response until paramedics can arrive in severe injury situations.
Establish a system for reporting injuries after they happen. All workplace injuries should be documented, even minor ones that don’t require a trip to the ER.
Running drills to practice how your team responds to an accident can be an effective method of training. The practice run can help employees feel more comfortable with the procedures, which can help them stay calm in the moment if a real emergency happens.
Investigate the Accident
Getting medical attention is always a priority, but it’s also important to investigate what happened after the emergency situation is under control. Document the scene with photos and written reports. Holding onto equipment and other pieces of evidence can also help with the investigation.
Next, talk to the other employees who were in the area when the accident happened. This information helps you better understand what led to the accident, which can help you make changes to reduce the risk in the future. It may also be helpful when working with your insurance company if the situation warrants workers compensation.
Understand OSHA Reporting Requirements
OSHA requires employers to report certain workplace accidents. If you don’t report an incident, you can get fined.
The types of accidents that must be reported include:
Loss of an eye
You not only need to report these incidents to OSHA, but you also need to do it within a certain time frame. The reporting time limit for fatalities is 8 hours. For all other injuries that need to be reported, you have 24 hours after the accident.
Assist With Workers Compensation
When injuries happen at work, the employee may be eligible for workers compensation. Help the employee understand how workers compensation works, and make it easy for the employee to file a claim.
Monitor the workers compensation claim from start to finish, keeping in touch with your employee and your insurance company. Follow up quickly if the insurance company needs more information. Supporting your employee through the process shows that you care.
Create a Return to Work Program
Having a return to work program in place eases the transition when an injured worker can come back to work. It helps determine how injured employees can work safely until they’re able to return to their full job duties. The program helps with modified job duties while the employee is still fully recovering.
Employees sometimes get clearance to return to work but with modified job duties. Working with the injured employee and managing the transition helps you reduce turnover and get employees back to work faster.
Any accident can become a learning experience and a way to improve your workplace. It might expose a hazard you hadn’t considered before, or it might reveal that your employees aren’t following the safety procedures you have in place.
Use the accident as a way to update your procedures and modify the work environment to reduce hazards. You can also use the incident as a training opportunity for your employees.
Handle Work Injuries Effectively
Focusing on preventing work injuries can help keep your employees healthier and safer. A solid plan for handling injuries and returning to work can help transition employees.
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