...but employees can help prevent them.
Entrepreneur magazine, April 1998
It's hard to argue with workplace safety programs--they help keep your insurance rates down and your productivity, profitability and employee morale up.
As companies work to create a safe environment, they often focus on such prevention issues as operating equipment and doing other tasks safely, and wearing appropriate safety gear. But, says Tom Callanan, senior vice president of Workers Compensation Fund of Utah in Salt Lake City, employees also need to be trained to take action if they see an unsafe situation, whether or not it has a direct impact on their particular job or work area.
Typical safety programs provide incentives for maintaining an accident-free workplace. Callanan says those programs also need to include recognition and incentives for employees who exercise initiative in spotting and taking steps to correct dangerous situations--whether it's a wobbling stack of books on a filing cabinet, a loose step or stair rail, or a major equipment problem.
According to Callanan, a good safety program includes the following components:
- Management leadership and commitment. The company owner and senior managers must be committed to safety for the program to work.
- Assignment of responsibility. There needs to be a person or a committee with responsibility and authority regarding safety processes.
- Hazard identification and control. Systems need to be in place to spot and correct dangerous situations before an accident occurs.
- Employee and supervisor training. Education must be companywide and ongoing.
- Employee awareness. Develop programs that will continually create awareness of the importance of safety among employees at all levels.
- Medical assistance. Know what you will do if an accident occurs.
- Accident and incident investigation. When something happens, be prepared to thoroughly research the situation to understand exactly what happened and why.
- Record-keeping. Keep appropriate documentation for insurance, government reporting and incentive programs.
For assistance in developing or enhancing your safety program, Callanan suggests calling your workers' compensation insurance carrier. "It can help you set up a program, measure the results and make adjustments as necessary," Callanan says. "It can also put you in touch with any other resources you may need."
Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, 392 E. 6400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84107, http://www.wcf-utah.com
Jacquelyn Lynn is a business writer in Winter Park, Florida.