Safety should be the goal of every workers’ compensation program. It reduces workers’ compensation program costs, increases productivity, and drives workplace morale. The problem is interested stakeholders do not know how to make their program the best in class. These steps can help anyone interested in improving their program build and maintain the safest workplace possible and reap the benefits and returns.
Set Realistic Safety Goals
Everyone interested in safety wants to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries with the ultimate goal of having ZERO work injuries. While this goal is impossible, it should not stop all parties within the workplace from taking positive steps to having the best possible program. The following will result when there is a commitment to the process of having a safe workplace:
- Reduction in the frequency and severity of workplace injuries;
- Reduction in workers’ compensation program costs; and
- Reduction in local, state, and federal sanctions for violating workplace safety laws and regulations.
The bottom line is an ongoing focus on workplace safety has countless tangible and intangible benefits.Creating the Best Possible Program
Creating a best-in-class safety program requires investment by all parties – upper management, supervisors, and employees. This includes a commitment to the process and support for those who demonstrate buy-in. It is a process that does not happen overnight.
- Determine the safety program’s objectives, including research into the work environment’s regulatory requirements. This includes a review of local, state, and federal regulations that may be specific to an industry;
- Creation of program goals with a focus on injury reduction that is realistic. All goals should be achievable but require effort and energy by all; and
- Appoint a leader that has an impact at all levels within an organization. This person should have access to the c-suite and the frontline.
The crucial key to a successful program is that rules with consequences are implemented for all.
Other Vital Features of Workplace Safety
Other features must be in place for a safety program to succeed. Without these considerations, the program will not work.
- Defined responsibilities for all levels of management: Each person within the chain of command needs to have a defined role within a safety program. This should include the involvement of a trained safety professional to provide coaching and identify hazards within the workplace.
- Required recording to drive safety: All successful safety programs keep required records. Not only are these records required, but they also allow the stakeholders to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and determine what is working.
- Understand OSHA workplace requirements: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most private employers with more than 10 employees to keep records that record incidents related to safety and injuries within a workplace. Knowing the regulations and faithfully following through on this recordkeeping is the first step toward success.
Central to the success of any safety program is accountability for all. This includes members of a company’s leadership to act with safety in mind and never push the limits of workplace rules. It also requires all supervisors to ensure injuries and incidents are reported. While discipline may take place, it can also be used as an opportunity to correct unsafe practices.
It is also essential to have a committed safety committee within your workplace. This committee should represent the workforce in terms of labor and management. This committee’s leader should also be able to effectuate change promptly. Responsibilities of this committee can include:
- Ensure annual safety training is completed promptly by all employees within an organization;
- Review current policies and procedures and make recommendations to improve workplace safety; and
- Develop ongoing safety messaging within an organization to reinforce the message in annual training.
Now is the time to make workplace safety a priority within the workplace. The message needs to be clear and consistent. All employees in an organization need to buy in, which starts with engaging everyone to reinforce the message.
All employees should prioritize workplace safety regardless of job title within an organization. In order to have an effective program, realistic goals must drive an organization’s culture and include key features that strive for the best program possible. Implementing it correctly will reduce work injuries’ frequency and severity and workers’ compensation program costs.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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