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Workplace Safety Dos and Don’ts

A healthy and efficient workforce is paramount for business owners to keep operations running smoothly, yet injury in the workplace is all too common. According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. It’s essential to create a culture of safety to minimize workplace injury as well as lower your workers’ compensation rates and limit violations for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Follow these workplace safety tips to build a more secure workplace for your company.

 Safety in the workplace.

Do Educate Your Workforce

No matter how many safety guidelines and practices you set, they’ll do no good if your employees aren’t aware or don’t understand them. Take the time to educate your workforce—not just new hires—to ensure they are fully aware and understand the guidelines you have in place. A quick refresher course on workplace safety never hurt anyone.

Don’t Take Shortcuts on Procedures

Workplace procedures exist to keep employees safe. While it may seem like a good idea at the time to skip a couple steps to speed up production, if it results in an injury, production will only be slowed down. In 2017, the National Safety Council reported that 104 million production days were lost due to work-related injuries. It’s critical that employees follow procedures—and supervisors and managers enforce protocol as a standard operating procedure at all times.

Do Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Whether it’s from contact with heavy machinery or slipping on wet floors in the office, every job can present some dangers. The National Safety Council also found that the most common workplace injuries are the result of overexertion, contact with objects and equipment, and slips, trips, and falls. 

Make sure workers are aware of their surroundings. One of the top safety violations reported to OSHA is a lack of warning signs and labels. Having proper signage in place, like “Watch for Falling Objects” or “Caution Wet Floors,” can help workers become more aware of any potential dangers in their environment.

Don’t Be Quiet About Unsafe Conditions

It’s important to take a proactive approach to workplace safety. Your employees are the eyes and ears of your workplace. Promote a culture where employees feel comfortable speaking up about safety concerns. After all, it’s in your best interest as an employer to correct safety issues as they arise, rather than face an OHSA violation and/or a workers’ compensation claim later.

Do Encourage Regular Breaks

In a culture that often promotes workaholic tendencies, it’s important to give and encourage employees to take regular breaks. Tired workers are more prone to injuries, as they become less aware of their surroundings. Data from the National Health Interview Survey found that injuries occur over three times more often to workers who sleep fewer than five hours per night.

While there is no federal requirement for breaks or meal periods under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), some states like Illinois and New York do require it. Regardless of your location, all employers should encourage workers to take breaks, which includes not eating lunch at a desk. Another rule of thumb is to schedule more difficult tasks for the beginning of a shift, when your employees are most alert.

Don’t Forgo Drug Testing

It can be a tough pill to swallow but working under the influence is more common than you may think. A Hazelden Foundation survey found that more than 60 percent of adults know people who have gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Similar to fatigue, when a worker’s ability to exercise judgement, coordination, motor control, concentration, and alertness is compromised, workplace injury is bound to happen. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), employees who abuse alcohol or drugs are over three times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident.

We’ve seen it happen to employers firsthand, resulting in ugly battles over workers’ compensation claims. Ongoing drug testing can be a surefire way to help keep both your business and employees safe.

Do Wear Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn to reduce risk of workplace injury―whether it’s earplugs, a hard hat, or a chemical suit. This may sound like a no-brainer, but the majority of OSHA violations involve a lack of protection, whether it’s fall protection or eye and face protection. It’s up to facility managers and business owners to enforce that all workers wear the proper protective gear and that any protective equipment is in place before tasks are carried out.

Don’t Block Emergency Exits

In case of an emergency, it’s important to have quick and easy access to exits. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, never place anything—ladders, forklifts, boxes, anything—in front of an emergency exit door. Furthermore, ensure pathways to equipment emergency shutoffs are clear in case you need to immediately stop them from functioning.

Do Ask for Help

It’s important for business owners to understand the proper safety precautions needed for their workplace. Group Management Services can help with onsite consulting, jobsite inspections, accident and injury investigations, training, and education to make sure your workplace is a safe environment for employees.

As you think about ways to keep operations running smoothly, you might also want to think about other ways you can make your workplace simpler, safer, and stronger. GMS offers payroll, risk management, and human resources services to help keep your business running smoothly all through the year. Contact GMS today to talk with one of our experts about how you can ensure workplace safety at your organization.

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