Top 10 Ways to Prevent Workplace Accidents

Top 10 Ways to Prevent Workplace Accidents

4.6 million workplace accidents occur annually. With careful planning, many could’ve been avoided. Use these 10 tips to protect your employees and company.

In 2017, 104,000,000 production days were lost due to work-related injuries, according to the National Safety Council.  Workplace accidents not only cause physical and mental harm to employees, but also financial harm to employers.

Rather than performing a "band-aid" fix every time an incident occurs, employers should focus on preventing workplace accidents in the first place. These ten tips will help to keep your organization safe, productive and running smoothly.

Learn how case management software can help you manage workplace accidents and other health and safety incidents in our free eBook.

1. Discourage Risky Behavior

Sometimes workplace accidents result from employees pushing themselves too hard. Maybe they want to impress their coworkers with their strength. Perhaps they want to increase their output in hopes of a raise. They may even have been injured before and begin working before they’ve fully recovered.

While you should encourage employees to be as productive and creative as possible, employee relations expert Simon Sapper suggests that employers “incentivize innovation, not accident-inducing risk.” Emphasize that employee safety is worth far more to you than a boost in productivity.

2. Implement Control Measures

Credit: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

If you know the hazards that your workers face, make a plan to implement control measures that will reduce the risk of them turning into workplace accidents. This hierarchy of controls diagram shows the different categories of controls you can use and their effectiveness.

Consider, for example, an employee who works on a computer and is at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. The least effective way to mitigate this risk is to offer them a wrist brace (PPE). A better solution is to allow them short, frequent breaks (administrative controls). Even better, vary their tasks so they are not strictly doing repetitive typing motions for their entire shift (substitution).

3. Review Your Policies and Procedures

Once per year, as well as after workplace accidents, review your organization's safety policies and procedures. Do they still apply to the risks your employees face? If you have changed the way you perform a task, started using new equipment or tools, or moved to a new location, your health and safety committee should update these documents.

When and if you update safety protocols, communicate the changes to your employees. Send a company-wide email detailing the changes for minor updates, but provide updated training if a policy or procedure changes significantly.

RELATED: Workplace Accident Investigations: The Definitive Guide

4. Provide Adequate Training

According to David Reischer, CEO of LegalAdvice.com, “A poorly trained employee is not only a danger
to themselves but also to co-workers and other third parties.” Without proper training, an employee may unknowingly put themselves and their coworkers in danger.

Prevent workplace accidents by providing a thorough training program to every new employee, no matter how experienced they are. Even though it might take a little longer for them to start producing work, you'll protect employees from harm and yourself from a potential lawsuit. Also, conduct regular retraining sessions to keep employees up-to-date on policies and procedures.

5. Perform Regular Inspections

In lines of work like construction, shipping, manufacturing and repair, using dangerous equipment can't be avoided. However, workplace accidents don't have to be an inevitable part of the job.

Perform regular inspections of machinery, equipment and tools. From each worker's hammer to large, shared machines, makes sure that the tools employees use for their jobs are safe and function properly. When something breaks, repair or replace it right away. Saving a few bucks on a machine part could cost an employee their health or your company millions of dollars in legal fees.

6. Supervise Employees

Whether you’re working on a construction site or in an office, it’s important to provide all employees with adequate supervision. This ensures that employees understand their tasks and have easy access to a supervisor when they have questions.

Without a supervisor around, an employee who is unsure about their work might “wing it,” which could cause injury, equipment damage or time lost to fixing a mistake. Train supervisors to be open and communicate with their employees to encourage dialogue.

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Workplace Incident Investigations

7. Use Employees' Expertise

When creating a risk-management plan, control measures or safety policies, consult with employees. No one knows the risks workers face better than the workers themselves. Provide a suggestion box or hotline to help spot and address potential issues.

8. Take a Risk Management Approach

"Adopt a risk management approach to operations—that helps you understand where danger is and work to mitigate or eliminate it," suggests Sapper. In other words, don't be reactive when it comes to workplace accidents. Instead, find ways to prevent them from happening in the first place. Don't wait until it's too late to figure out what risks your workers face; seek them out and mitigate them proactively.

9. Offer Different Types of Support

Workplace accidents can be caused by the employee's work environment, task or materials. However, their education, experience, or physical or mental condition may also factor in. When an employee is tired, overworked, sick or having issues at home, their mind is elsewhere and they can't perform their best at work. This could result in reduced productivity at best and a serious workplace accident at worst.

Offer employees a comprehensive list of physical and mental health resources both at work and in your benefits plan. When an employee feels supported and healthy all around, everyone is safer.

All workplace incidents need to be addressed, even if they don't result in harm to an employee or property. Use our near miss reporting form template to get started.

10. Use Case Management Software

Case management software makes it fast and easy to investigate and prevent workplace accidents. Rather than having to gather information and documents from all over the office, you can keep data and evidence right in the case file. With the capability to create an instant report and file it directly with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you won't waste time doing paperwork. Finally, a case management solution can help you spot trends and high-risk areas so you can take steps to reduce workplace accidents.