4 steps to creating a safer workplace
One serious on-the-job injury can potentially cost a business owner tens of thousands of dollars in wage-replacement costs, replacement-hire costs, regulatory fines and lost productivity.
One important way insurance agents can provide a valuable service that strengthens their client relationships is to help business owners establish a culture of workplace safety.
In addition to reducing the risk of incurring injury-related expenses, making the necessary investments to become a safer workplace can save a company money over the long-run. The Occupational Safety and Health Association estimates that business owners can save $4 to $6 for every dollar invested in a safety program. Also, many workers’ compensation insurance carriers offer discounts to companies that have workplace safety plans, which can result in lower premium costs.
Creating a culture of workplace safety often starts with a written plan that demonstrates a business’ commitment to make it a strategic priority. Fortunately, OSHA and some insurance carriers provide free resources, tools and services that agents can offer to help their clients get started.
Here is a four-step framework that agents can recommend to their clients to use to create a culture of workplace safety:
1. Assess and evaluate hazards
Agents can encourage their clients to conduct an initial hazard assessment to identify potential ways employees could get hurt on the job.
OSHA has a comprehensive, easy-to-follow job hazard analysis that should be considered when developing any workplace safety plan. A good assessment should account for both risks specific to the business type or industry, as well as job-specific tasks that could lead to an employee injury.
For example, in a busy restaurant, a line cook’s job likely involves using knives, hot oil and ovens, which could cause lacerations or burns, whereas wait staff may be more susceptible to injuries caused by slippery surfaces.
2. Develop an action plan
After a hazard assessment is done ― and any imminent dangers are addressed right away ― the next step is to develop an action plan that can help your client minimize risk.
At a minimum, the safety plan should describe the steps employees should take to reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring.
For example, the safety plan can specify that spilled liquids need to be cleaned up immediately, or blocked off with clear warning signs until they can be mopped up, so that employees and others in the worksite don’t slip, trip or fall.
3. Promote and enforce the plan
Although having a plan written down is important, it doesn’t do any good if it just collects dust on a shelf and isn’t adhered to every day.
An important step in implementing a workplace safety initiative is to get the client’s senior leadership on board and personally committed. No matter how good the plan is, if management isn’t involved and held accountable, employees won’t feel compelled to live by the rules, either.
Some insurance carriers can help agents and their clients design training workshops and produce collateral materials to communicate the specifics of the safety plan to managers. Once managers are on board, they need to be responsible for cascading information about the policies to their direct reports and correcting safety violations whenever they occur.
4. Recordkeeping and documentation
Diligent recordkeeping and documentation are crucial for managing risk and the successful implementation of a workplace safety plan.
Proper documentation allows for accountability and effective plan management. Additionally, it’s important to have up-to-date records in the event of an OSHA inspection or insurance audit. Agents should check in periodically and encourage their clients to maintain the following documents:
- Training records.
- Employee injury records.
- Accident/injury investigations.
- Inspection records/corrective actions.
- OSHA 300 Logs (where required).
By helping clients understand how taking a proactive approach to workplace safety can ultimately benefit their bottom-line — and protect their employees’ well-being — agents can affect positive change and serve as meaningful, valued business partners who help their clients be more successful.
Jul 06, 2016 | By David Quezada