Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Businesses and industries across the nation celebrated Safe and Sound Week in mid-August, focusing on preventing workplace injuries in an effort to reduce workers’ compensation claims.
“One of the best things to do is to update the safety policies of an organization,” said Cindy Ramos, loss prevention director at CompWest, a provider of workers’ compensation insurance in California and the western states.
“It’s something you want to look at every year and make sure it’s still applicable,” she said, adding that employers should make sure names and policies are current.
Safe and Sound Week is sponsored by OSHA. It’s the second year for the nationwide event. More than 1,400 companies took part in the event from Aug. 13-19.
Ramos said opening up lines of communication about workplace safety issues between employees and management is also key.
“It’s not just a top-down approach,” she said. “It’s about bringing employees’ opinions to the table. A lot of people have worked at other organizations where they are doing things differently and can share things that are being done in the industry that an employer is not already doing.”
She also said employers should call out “good safety behavior,” which is part of a culture.
“When you see people wearing their safety glasses, give them a pat on the back or a candy bar or a gift card and say, “hey thanks for contributing to the safety culture,” she said. CompWest looks to add a customized approach in helping employers create a safer work environment.
Ramos said the largest injuries CompWest has observed are related to ergonomics — a lot of hand use, whether it’s on or off the job. Texting is definitely a contributor.
“You can do it, but you just have to have proper posture and give those fingers a break,” Ramos said.
Lisa Dry, spokeswoman for the Battery Council International, said safety is a primary goal for nearly 20,000 employees, some of whom handle lead batteries and battery replacement.
“One of the things we do is measure the lead levels in the blood of our employees,” Dry explained, “to make sure they are lower than OSHA requirements. Combining all of those factors reduce injury and the number of workers’ compensation claims.”
Dry said this is the first year they’ve participated in the program.
She cited Gopher Resource, an environmental company in Eagan, MN, which completes more than 15,000 hours of worker safety training each year.
“Safe workplaces are sound businesses,” said Rixio Medina, president of the American Society of Safety Professionals. “Through safety and health programs, organizations can proactively identify and manage hazards before they become problems. If a company wants to be successful and sustainable over the long term, it must recognize the vital importance of or worker safety.”
“One injury can cost so much,” Ramos said. “There’s the cost of bringing in an employee to complete that work, retraining and the morale that goes hand-in-hand with that. A lot of small injuries can be a sign that something else is brewing.”
In 2016, there were 5,190 fatal workplace injuries in the United States, according to the US Dept. of Labor.