Workplace Safety Tips
A workplace injury can significantly impact you and your business. And it happens more than you think. Employers reported 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 One-third of those workplace injuries resulted in days away from work. While that may seem staggering, the number of reported work-related injuries has been declining. This means workplaces are becoming safer. Some of that decline could be attributed to better workplace safety programs.
It’s the employer’s responsibility to have well-defined workplace safety guidelines. It’s more than just a good idea. It’s a necessity. It can create a safe working environment for your employees.
Addressing occupational safety issues might seem costly at first. But in the long run, safer workplaces can save money by lowering workers’ compensation premiums and claims costs. Before you can eliminate risks at your workplace, you have to identify them first.
Identifying Workplace Risks Using the GOAL Method
One of the easiest ways to identify hazards in the workplace is to use the GOAL Method. GOAL stands for: Go Out and Look! Schedule and document periodic safety inspections. Depending on the exposures and types of hazards, conduct inspections daily, weekly, monthly or on a quarterly basis.
- Daily: High hazard or frequently changing operations or equipment (forklifts, power press guarding)
- Weekly: High hazard areas (flammable storage areas, construction sites and hazardous manufacturing areas)
- Monthly: Most manufacturing, retail and warehousing areas
- Quarterly: Offices, grounds and parking lots
Documentation of the inspections is critical for various regulations. It’s essential if follow-up becomes necessary. Records should include:
- Name(s) of the individual(s) conducting the inspection
- Unsafe conditions and/or work practices identified
- Action(s) taken to correct the identified unsafe conditions and work practices
Document any identified conditions and note remediation methods. Additionally, the safety committee and senior management should review all inspections. They can monitor the remediation process and identify any trends in the operation that may exist.
Aside from identifying risks through periodic inspections, there are some basic safety tips businesses can follow to create a safer workplace.
Office Safety Tips
Office environments present their own unique set of safety risks. Office employees sit for most of the workday, putting them at risk for back and neck pains. Long-term repetitive use of phones and computers present additional risks. These include:
- Vision strain
- Hand and wrist injuries
Like any other workplace, injuries can also occur in various ways:
- Trip hazards from misplaced objects
- Worn-down furniture
- Faulty electrical cords
- Poor ventilation
Taking regular breaks can help reduce the risk of injuries. But knowing how to mitigate these risks is a great first step to creating a safer workplace.
Falls – Believe it or not, falls are the most common accidents in office environments.2 In fact, a 2011 study found 29 percent of ground-level falls resulted in 31 or more lost workdays.3 The most common causes of office falls reported are:
- Trips over desks, file drawers, electrical cords, loose carpeting or misplaced objects in hallways/walkways
- Falls out of an unstable chair while bending or reaching for something
- Falls from standing on chairs
- Slipping on wet floors
- Inadequate lighting
Tips for avoiding falls in the office include:
- Keep walkways clear and encourage employees to look before they walk
- Keep drawers closed when not in use
- Encourage employees not to overreach for things while seated
- Fix hazards such as loose carpeting, electrical cords, etc.
- Pick up misplaced objects
- Ensure rooms are brightly lit
Workstation Ergonomics – Not all injuries are the result of a single, traumatic accident. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) develop over years of harmful repetitive motions. Repetitive motions can become harmful when done improperly over an extended period. Proper work area ergonomics are an essential part of avoiding RSI. Here are some ergonomic considerations to review when setting up a new workstation:
- Adjust chairs to the person’s height. Thighs should be parallel with the floor, while feet are flat on the ground.
- Adjust keyboard height. While typing, elbows should be at a 90-degree angle and wrists should be straight.
- Raise the computer monitor to eye level.
Additional Workplace Safety Tips
Many jobs require different safety guidelines, depending on specific responsibilities. No matter the job, proper safety training is essential to reduce risks. It can also help improve workplace health and safety. Train employees on safe workplace practices and to identify risks. Your employees should know where to find and how to use safety equipment. Employees should also be familiar with the proper use of any personal protective equipment.
Introducing new equipment into the workplace can be disruptive to workplace safety. Using equipment successfully depends on the ability to work with it comfortably. To ensure the proper use of equipment, users must be knowledgeable in several areas:
- Familiarity with the equipment itself, including design features and components.
- General understanding of body mechanics and the importance of moving around frequently.
- General understanding of ergonomic principles and how to apply them to work and workstations.
- Familiarity with appropriate channels of communication. This is important when seeking help with equipment and ergonomic issues when necessary.
Workers’ Compensation From The Hartford
With the proper workplace safety plan in place, you can minimize the severity and cost of workers’ compensation claims. You may also be able to reduce your workers' comp costs. Learn more about the cost of workers’ compensation. Get a quote today for workers’ compensation. If you prefer to speak to one of our insurance specialists, please call 1-855-829-1683.
This article provides general information, and should not be construed as specific legal, HR, financial, insurance, tax or accounting advice. As with all matters of a legal or human resources nature, you should consult with your own legal counsel and human resources professionals. The Hartford shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive or exemplary damages in connection with the use by you or anyone of the information provided herein.
2 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “Environmental Health & Safety: What Are the Top Injuries in a Typical Office and How Can You Avoid Them?”
3 U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Non-Fatal Occupational Falls on the Same Level.”