Does My Business Need an Employee Safety Program?

The workplace can pose certain risks whether you work in construction, web design, retail, or manufacturing. The best way to avoid workplace injuries is to have a good employee safety program in place. But safety programs are not one-size-fits-all. Employee safety programs that go beyond just the basic requirements see greater risk reductions, while safety programs that barely meet the minimum standards can endanger employees in the workplace and diminish productivity.

The greatest tool a business can equip its employees with is training. Placing importance on safety training protocols demonstrates that safety matters and empowers employees to make safe workplace decisions.

Here are a few steps for starting an employee safety program:

Implement a formal facility self-inspection program. This program identifies and corrects hazards before accidents occur. A self-inspection program involves a daily, weekly, and monthly inspection process.

  • Daily: Employees inspect their own work area at the start of the work shift. The employee informs their supervisor of any safety hazards found and corrects what they can. The supervisor informs maintenance of any needed repairs.

  • Weekly: Department managers tour their area of responsibility. They make contact with their employees, observe work areas for unsafe conditions/unsafe acts, and inform supervisors of hazards needing correction.

  • Monthly: This is a formal inspection that requires more planning and documentation. A designated, trained inspection team visits all areas of the facility. They document identified safety hazards on a pre-printed inspection report. The report is submitted to upper management for review and approval for hazard correction. A follow up inspection is done in a timely manner to confirm hazard elimination.

Implement a formal accident investigation program. It’s bad enough if an employee is injured at work. It’s worse if nothing is done to prevent the same accident from occurring again and again. Through accident investigation, management seizes the opportunity to learn from a mistake, making your workplace a safer place for your employees. This program utilizes front-line supervisors to identify the facts about what caused an accident through prompt accident scene examination and separate interviews with the injured employee and eyewitnesses. The purpose of the investigation is to implement effective corrective action(s). Your employees will notice management taking action to better the work environment.

Implement a return-to-work program.  An effective return-to-work program keeps management abreast of the injured employee’s recovery, and works with the treating physician to get the injured employee back to work as soon as possible. Begin by creating a modified temporary job that accommodates the injured employee’s medical work restrictions. Develop a written job description stating the physical demands of the modified job. Share the job description with the injured employee’s treating physician. Instruct all employees, supervisors, and managers of the importance of the modified temporary job. Require the injured employee and supervisor to only work within the medical restrictions until those restrictions are removed by the treating physician.

These are just a few of the many components to an effective employee safety program. Visit the Loss Control page on our Umialik Insurance website for information on the availability of model safety programs, safety program bulletins, and other loss control resources. Umialik policyholders can also set up a user ID and password to access our safety DVD library.