Steps to take before an injury occurs in the workplace

It is always important to have policies in place that address procedures to be followed in the event of a workplace injury. However, the best solution is to focus resources on how to prevent that worker from becoming injured in the first place.

“A focus on preventative measures and the various resources available to create a safer workplace is truly important,” says Bruce Preston, manager of client services at CompManagement. “Getting the right people in the door is a very good first step, along with proper training and creating an environment that emphasizes safety.”

Smart Business spoke with Preston about the resources available to improve your overall safety.

What are the first steps to prevent injuries?

It is important to provide a safe environment both physically and organizationally. Create a safety committee that can do a hazard analysis to identify potential injury risks. From there, safety requirements may be developed. Once the safety requirements are in place, enforce safety best practices.

Also review your hiring practices. The best outcome is to hire and retain people who are physically capable of doing the work expected. Complete a job analysis for all positions to identify the actual physical expectations of the job. This should be utilized during pre-employment testing.

What resources are available to employers?

Most full-service, third-party administrators will offer safety services that include accident prevention, safety training and safety management program development. Additional services are also available from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) division of Safety and Hygiene (DSH). BWC offers three main services: consulting services, educational training and outreach, as well as library services. BWC industrial safety, construction safety, industrial hygiene and ergonomic specialists can visit an employer’s workplace or consult by telephone and/or email to assist in the development of effective injury and illness prevention services. BWC also offers OSHA and Public Employer Risk Reduction (PERRP) services. Under the OSHA onsite consultation program, services include free on-site safety inspections and consultation, safety program assistance and training. PERRP provides a variety of specialized workplace safety and health services for Ohio’s state, county and local government agencies, and public schools and colleges.

For training and outreach, BWC offers classroom and online courses. BWC also sponsors dozens of safety councils across the state that provide their local communities with quality safety programs. The best part is that the BWC DSH services are free to all Ohio employers.

How can changes be made cost effectively?

The BWC offers a variety of safety grants to employers for safety equipment, wellness and to foster a drug-free workplace. Safety Intervention grants are available to employers that wish to purchase equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation. Employers wanting to improve the health and wellness of their workers can benefit from the Workplace Wellness Grant Program. It provides funding to assist employers in establishing training and programs to reduce health risk factors specific to their employees. Grants are also available to assist employers that are implementing the Drug Free Safety Program at either the basic or advanced level. In addition, new grants have recently been developed to focus on firefighter exposure to environmental elements and employers working with persons with developmental disabilities.

How can this be sustained?

Create a culture of safety. Management must be committed to the culture and be involved with the safety committee to allow the committee to secure funding or support to address safety hazards. Their involvement also helps committees make more realistic decisions and recommendations. Also consider inviting non-committee front-line workers to participate in a meeting and discuss hazards that they encounter daily. Encourage employees to report hazards and unsafe work practices to a committee member, act on employee recommendations, keep the committee visible, and promote all activities and accomplishments.

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