Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
When it comes to the workplace, safety is key. Whether a business is a small office, a restaurant, or a busy construction site, workplace injuries can be traumatic for both employees and employers. Injury and illness prevention programs help promote a safe workplace environment for workers as well as help business owners maintain achieve or lower premiums by reducing the number or severity of claims.
The Department of Labor provides sobering statistics which emphasize the need for injury and illness prevention programs. Over 4,500 American workers die on the job every year—an average of 12 a day. Every year, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness. As a result, many states encourage or require employers to maintain safe and healthy workplace environments through the use of worker safety programs.1
Worker safety programs are often best executed when management clearly defines the company’s safety goals and communicates those goals to the employees. According to OSHA, effective safety programs encompass the following: “management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation”.2
The two main components of a successful safety program, management commitment and employee involvement, are low- or no-cost and key to any program’s success. Management sets the tone that a company is dedicated to maintaining a safe, healthy work environment at all times. Employers can also be proactive by attending safety training sessions and taking part in accident investigations.3
Active employee involvement is a second element that has proven to be successful in reducing workplace illness and injury. Studies show non-active safety participation programs, such as written or multi-media presentations which require little employee involvement, have minimal impact on workplace safety. However, participation by employees—a “find and fix” approach to workplace hazards—is the way to safety. As OSHA notes, “When workers are encouraged to offer their ideas and they see their contributions being taken seriously, they tend to be more satisfied and more productive.”4 This pays off in regards to workplace safety in numerous ways. Employee participation reduces the number of injuries while lowering workers’ compensation rates. Active participation in a workplace safety program is also shown to lead to lower absenteeism, higher productivity, greater loyalty to the company, and improved communications and relationships between employers and employees.