Clearly Communicating Safety Precautions to Workers
Safety is a huge priority for companies, as preventable accidents can take a huge bite out of profits in litigation, worker’s compensation, medical bills, and other costs. Despite an increasing emphasis on improving worker safety in corporate America, many companies still struggle to communicate basic safety information to their workers, such as how to avoid trips and falls, and why employees need to wear high visibility safety vests.
For companies seeking to create a safe environment for employees and customers, and to avoid the costs associated with workplace injuries, the following tips can help:
- Use multiple channels of communication – Different workers have different learning styles, and your company’s safety training should appeal to them all. Use posters, presentations, videos, and activities to communicate your message to employees. Also have regular meetings to re-emphasize your safety message.
- Make the message unambiguous – Your safety plan should be clear and concise. A safety plan that is contradictory or that is frequently circumvented by front-line managers won’t be effective in keeping employees safe. The message concerning your company’s safety priorities should be clear, and all company leaders should speak with one voice on the matter.
- Incorporate interactive training – Training that actively engages employees is far more valuable than just having everyone come into a dark room and watch a 30-minute video. Safety training programs featuring interactive quizzes or role-playing scenarios are more likely to stick with workers.
- Visual aids – Reminders of the company’s safety policies can be invaluable. Put up safety-related posters and materials in relevant areas in the workplace. A visual reminder to put on a helmet or safety vest or to take caution might just prevent an unfortunate accident.
- Establish buy-in among managers – Corporate safety programs won’t work if managers ignore or undermine them. Managers should be kept in the loop concerning the drafting of the safety plan, as this will increase their acceptance of the plan. They should also be encouraged to positively promote the plan and avoid asking employees to take shortcuts on safety.
High Cost of Workplace Injury
According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the 10 most common workplace accidents cost businesses $59.6 billion in 2014, up 7.5 percent from the previous year. The 10 most common causes of workplace injury include:
- Overexertion – lifting, pulling, pushing, holding, carrying, throwing
- Falls on the same level
- Struck by equipment
- Falls to lower level
- Other exertions – bending, crawling, twisting
- Roadway incidents with motorized land vehicle
- Slip or trip without fall
- Caught in or compressed by equipment
- Repetitive motions
- Struck against object or equipment
The vast majority of these accidents were entirely preventable. By clearly communicating safety priorities and protocols, companies can keep their work force productive and safe, and avoid the often staggering costs associated with workplace injury and death.