Workplace safety is essential for every business, from the smallest startups to the largest corporations. Neglecting it can have devastating consequences and potentially bankrupt the company. The cost of employee injuries goes beyond a workers’ compensation claim. The potential loss of human life, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and lost time are all significant factors. In 2021, workplace injuries cost a staggering $167 billion. The specific costs included:

  • Administrative expenses: $57.5 billion
  • Wage and productivity losses: $47.5 billion
  • Medical expenses: $36.6 billion
  • Employers’ uninsured costs: $13.8 billion
  • Fire losses: $6.3 billion
  • Work-related vehicle damage: $5.4 billion

Prioritizing safety can save lives, time, and money. The following are five methods to improve workplace safety.

  1. Establish a culture of safety and communicate it often. Workplace safety isn’t something businesses and their employees should only consider during onboarding or safety training. It is a constant responsibility of every staff member. Employers must communicate effectively and explain the why behind safety policies. Employees should also feel comfortable calling attention to safety concerns and hazards.
  2. Reinforce safety training with practice drills. Regular training is a great way to help employees retain safety information, but knowledge is not the same as practical experience. For example, many companies post maps with clear fire escape directions. Some hold training sessions to ensure their employees know the best exit route to take in the event of an emergency. However, panic is a common response to a crisis. Holding safety drills can engrain critical information into muscle memory.
  3. Prioritize safety over speed. Encouraging employees to report hazards or safety concerns must extend beyond lip service. For example, if a supervisor issues an irritated call to halt operations or huffs in frustration when an employee reports a safety issue, that employee is less likely to do so again in the future. Preventable accidents are more likely to occur if a supervisor’s body language communicates a preference for speed rather than safety. Additionally, commending employees for their safety efforts demonstrates the company’s commitment to a culture of safety.
  4. Provide and maintain the correct tools and equipment. Providing the right tools and equipment for every job can prevent workplace injuries. Without the necessary gear, employees may improvise, such as using pliers to loosen a bolt if they don’t have the socket wrench size they need. Such workarounds can become dangerous rapidly. Similarly, equipment that doesn’t receive regular maintenance can become a significant workplace hazard. Machine malfunctions aren’t predictable, but most are avoidable with consistent maintenance and replacement when necessary.
  5. Encourage good ergonomics. Not all workplace injuries are due to accidents. Repetitive stress injuries are common, and the effects accumulate over the years. Poor ergonomics are often to blame and can damage muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves, and more. Companies can support employee ergonomics by adjusting chairs, keyboards, and monitors to their height. Their thighs should run parallel to the floor, their elbows should form a 90-degree angle, their wrists should be straight, and their monitors should be at eye level.

Focusing on workplace safety can decrease the number and severity of workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Fewer accidents can also reduce workers’ compensation insurance rates. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to learn more about workers’ compensation coverage.