In 2016, more than 2.8 million workers were injured, and more than 5,000 were killed on the job, according to the United States Department of Labor.
The latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the most common causes of workplace fatalities are roadways incidents, followed by falls, slips and trips. Homicides are the third leading cause of workplace death.
The most frequent injuries that caused missed days of work are sprains, strains and tears, followed by falls, slips and trips. Back injuries are the third most common workplace problem.
Ten steps toward a safer workplace
According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) law, employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace. The most effective way for employers to improve safety is to conduct a thorough work-site analysis, reviewing each job to address potential hazards.
Completing a comprehensive work-site analysis is a daunting job, but breaking it down into smaller steps makes the task more manageable. Here’s how to make a job-site analysis part of your overall safety and health system:
- Involve employees. Create a task-by-task breakdown of how each job is done. Include employees who are currently doing the work in this process; they are best-equipped to help you understand their work and identify safety issues.
- Prioritize properly. Begin by evaluating jobs with the highest potential for injuries, and then move on to jobs with fewer inherent dangers. Be looking for pinch points, risks of slips and trips, lifting concerns and potential exposure to electrical hazards, toxic substances or harmful radiation.
- Review history. Look at your safety records to identify issues that have caused problems in the past. Keep records up-to-date by ensuring that front line workers have a way to report issues that arise.
- Be responsive. If you see immediate concerns, act quickly to resolve problems. These “quick wins” will help build credibility with employees.
- Create a step-by-step improvement plan. Creating a safer workplace may mean reorganizing the workplace. For example, you may need to eliminate hazards, replace hazards, and implement controls to isolate employees from dangerous situations. You may also need to provide personal protective equipment.
- Create a project matrix. After all jobs have been analyzed, create a tactical timeline that begins by addressing high-impact projects.
- Demonstrate follow-through. Don’t let urgent issues distract you from your commitment to health and safety. Make your dedication to safety a top priority rather than letting it become a “flavor of the month.”
- Document and track results. Report to employees regularly about your progress, and keep ongoing safety records to demonstrate year-over-year improvement.
- Communicate clearly. OSHA suggests using color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards. If safety improvements require different ways of doing a particular job, train existing employees in the new procedures and explain the rationale for the changes.
- Review periodically. Effective health and safety programs cannot be put on a shelf when the work is complete. Instead, schedule a periodic analysis of each job to identify new issues arise and develop improved solutions.
For a detailed self-inspection checklist, or to learn more about conducting a work-site analysis, contact Taggart Insurance and we will be happy to assist you.
1United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (December 19, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm
2United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/iif/
3Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/employer-responsibility.html