Keep Your Employees Well Grounded

We’ve all slipped on a slick floor, tripped over a child’s toy or fallen off a ladder. When it happens at home, we usually end up with minor, though sometimes embarrassing, bumps, bruises or scrapes. When it happens at work, it can be far more serious.

Falls are the third leading cause of workplace fatalities, behind automotive accidents and contact with equipment. Slips, trips and falls also carry direct and indirect costs.

Direct costs, which include medical and income benefits for the injured worker, are covered by the insurance carrier. Indirect costs, such as making up for lost production, come out of your pocket. Indirect costs can be one time to 10 times higher than direct costs.

The average non-fatal slip, trip or fall injury results in about $23,929 in direct costs. If we use a conservative one-to-two ratio, that seemingly minor injury will cost you $47,858.

So, that’s the bad news. The good news is that you can prevent most slips, trips and falls.

Start by conducting regularly scheduled self-inspections. Check your workplace for wet or greasy floors, damaged ladders, clutter, poor lighting and other hazards. Watch employees work, making sure they follow safety procedures. Remind them to never sacrifice safety for efficiency.

Your goal is to eliminate hazards and correct unsafe behaviors before someone gets hurt.

Of course, accidents and near misses happen, even in the safest workplaces. Investigate them as soon as possible to find and correct the root causes. But, don’t stop there. Periodically review your accidents for trends.

For example, are employees consistently getting injured in certain areas of your workplace? Are workers who perform a specific task getting injured?

If you identify causes (such as equipment, methods, personnel, environment), then plan ways to correct each cause. Examples might include physical changes, procedural changes, more training or a better safety program. Be sure that management, supervisors and employees follow through with the appropriate measures.

Just because you assigned corrective action tasks doesn’t necessarily mean your staff completed them. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean the corrective actions were effective. Follow up to make sure all corrective actions are in place and that they eliminated the root cause.

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