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6 Steps to Help Improve Workplace Safety


For small business owners, the cost of workers’ compensation insurance can be significant, especially if an accident has happened in your workplace. Accidents, even ones that might be considered minor, directly influence your workers’ compensation premiums — and not in a good way. Every accident can raise the cost of your insurance.

A great safety record can, in turn, lower your premium costs, so it pays off to institute and enforce a safety program in your business. This is especially true if your work involves some high risk activities, such as construction, but safety is also a good investment for businesses that are primarily retail or office based such as a clothing boutique or accounting firm. Here are six steps to planning and implementing a successful workplace safety program.

  1. Conduct a Safety Evaluation. This is best done by a safety professional, but you can organize one yourself and involve your employees. Ask workers to identify locations, activities and procedures that could, under reasonable conditions, be safety hazards. Do people stand on chairs to reach that high shelf in the supply closet? That’s every bit as unsafe as the mechanic who doesn’t wear safety goggles. Fix these hazards before they become the cause of injuries.
  2. Develop Safety Standards and Practices. Based on your safety evaluation, develop a list of safety practices for each type of work that takes place in your business. Consider whether it’s necessary to provide special equipment for some workers. For example, data entry clerks might need cushioned wrist supports to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
  3. Train Employees. All employees should be required to know and practice safety rules at all times. Emphasize the main goal of the program: to keep everyone safe and healthy.
  4. Enforce Safety Standards. Some jobs obviously require safety equipment, including protective eyewear, boots and gloves. Other hazards, such as a slippery floor, can affect all employees. Establish and enforce safety procedures for such things as cleaning up spills, using ladders and lifting boxes.
  5. Establish a Culture of Safety. Keep a running tally of “accident free” days on the employee bulletin board. Publicly congratulate work teams that excel at safety practices and individuals who suggest improvements. Encourage employees to alert one another if they notice a safety hazard. Be sure that no employee fears reprisal for pointing out potential problems.
  6. Stay Informed. Once you have established a good safety program, don’t rest on your success. Monitor developments in the field, such as new products and best practices that could make your workplace even safer.

Certainly, helping your employees work safely is the right thing to do. The bonus is that it will also help manage your costs for workers’ compensation insurance.