Workplace safety or getting the job done - which of the two is more important? If company owners or employees were asked these questions, the obvious answer would be "workplace safety." Unfortunately, some of the reported workplace injuries suggest that many of the injuries happen when a worker takes a shortcut and fails to follow safety protocol. The US Department of Labor tracks these statistics and facts through its agency responsible for enforcing standards and providing training, education, and outreach (OSHA), to help keep workers safe. Here are some frequently asked questions that most workers and employers ask:
What are the top five most common workplace injuries treated in an emergency department?
Contact with objects and equipment, overexertion and bodily reaction, and falls, slips and trips without a fall.1
What steps should workers and employers take to prevent workplace injuries?
Regularly check your work area for any safety hazards. Make sure all workers are properly trained to do their job safely. Train workers on how to spot hazards and take action, i.e., if you see something, say something, or have the authority to stop a work process in the event of a safety hazard. Other steps include the development of policies and procedures that cover workplace safety, offer hazard identification guidelines, training, and processes for maintaining records of all steps followed by a company.
Why is safety training important? Is it worth the time away from work to do it?
Employees trained in hazard awareness, prevention and control will be less likely
to be injured on the job. Safety training helps accomplish this and reminds workers
about the importance of not taking shortcuts and helps prevent workers from getting
too relaxed when performing repetitive tasks, which sometimes leads to injury.
The benefit of taking the time to offer training is that workers can limit their exposure to injuries, improve overall morale by creating a safer environment to work in and increase employee confidence by improving their overall skill sets and abilities. Fewer injuries lead to more productivity and loss of personnel due to injury-related absences.
How much could it cost a small business owner if an employee gets injured on the job?
The cost could be devastating to a small business owner. These expenses would include workers' compensation, medical costs, loss of productivity, staff replacement and the change in employee confidence on the job. One estimate shows that employers pay $1 billion a week in workers' compensation due to work-related injuries. 2
1 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – Workplace Safety and Health Topics
2 OSHA Business Case for Safety and Health - OSHA Stats