Risk & Business Magazine Hardenbergh Insurance Group Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 26

WORKPLACE SAFETY Keeping Your Workplace Safe And Productive BY CHRISTOPHER J POWELL A re you looking for strategies to improve worker safety and enhance productivity? Nobody wants to see an employee get hurt on the job and have to face a long work absence and rehabilitation. There are a number of proactive strategies you can utilize to help avoid costly workers’ compensation claims and keep your employees on the job where they belong. believes that all employers “can and should” implement Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. Topics covered in such a plan should include hazard identification, education and training, accident prevention and control, and periodic program evaluation and improvement. OSHA provides a long list of recommendations for employers to help them avoid or minimize workplace injury, including the following: INJURY PREVENTION According to the National Safety Council, the cost of workplace illnesses and injuries totals nearly $200 billion a year. As part of this equation, the government factors in such variables as workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, new employee recruiting and training costs, lost productivity, equipment repair, and even legal expenses. In fact, workplace injury is so rampant that US employers pay nearly $1 billion per week on workers’ compensation benefits alone. • creating a workplace free from recognized hazards The truth is that most on-the-job injuries can be prevented with the proper assessment and implementation of injury prevention measures. Not only do business owners owe it to their employees to provide a safe work environment on a moral basis, but healthy workers will also make a workplace more efficient and profitable. In addition, a workplace with fewer illnesses, injuries, and accidents is a better place to work and is more attractive to potential employees. OSHA’S ROLE OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arm of the US government, 26 • providing safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand • posting of employee rights and responsibilities • recordkeeping and reporting of workplace-related injuries or deaths • ensuring that employees have and use safe tools and equipment • establishing and communicating proper operating procedures FATIGUE MANAGEMENT One of the major causes of workplace injury is fatigue and loss of focus. In addition to making life uncomfortable for millions of workers, fatigue is extremely costly to employers as it reduces productivity and can greatly impact the bottom line. More of your employees may experience fatigue than you might imagine. In fact, a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that nearly 40 percent of US workers experience fatigue, costing companies an astounding $136 billion per year in lost productivity. Fatigue can be caused by myriad factors— not just long hours on the job. Inadequate sleep, stress, and health issues can contribute to fatigue, with symptoms manifesting in a whole host of potentially serious physical ailments, including loss of appetite, depression, digestive problems, and irritability. Not only are manual laborers affected but office workers too, who may spend long hours in sedentary positions focused on their computers. These employees are particularly prone to repetitive stress injuries from overusing particular muscle groups. As our workforce ages, it is especially important for employers to recognize the significance of this problem and develop strategies to combat employee fatigue. Techniques employers can introduce to keep employees focused and alert may include diaphragmatic breathing, stretching exercises, and frequent short work breaks. Free coffee in the workplace is not a bad idea either. THE IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who use them. Smart ergonomic design can help relieve repetitive stress injuries, reduce workplace fatigue, and improve overall productivity. Today, more and more companies are becoming educated on the benefits of good ergonomic design for employees’ work spaces, and studies bear out its advantages. A study in EHS Today, which covers environment, health, and safety in the