I asked top-notch safety professionals this question: If you could give your clients just one tip to help them minimize their workplace accidents and injuries, what advice would you offer? Some of their answers may surprise you.
- Managers and supervisors should catch an employee doing something right. If this were the case, says a loss control director in Missouri, “employees would do a much better, safer job.” Too often employees face criticism but few accolades.
- Make safety a company value, one loss control expert recommends. “Once safety becomes a value that is actively and visibly supported by upper management, at-risk behavior starts to change.”
- “Outsource hazardous tasks,” recommends one Phoenix-based loss prevention consultant. Transferring loss exposure is one sound way to minimize injuries.
- Hire carefully. Your next workers’ compensation claim may be sitting in your personnel office right now, waiting to be interviewed. “Strong hiring practices can probably send 60 percent of your workers’ compensation claims out the door,” says a California insurance agent.
- Send a clear message to employees that you care about them, according to one risk management expert. Remind them that, “We want you to leave here today in the same condition you came to work.” Then, put your money where your mouth is. Ensure your workers’ compensation carrier is committed to providing employees with high-level medical care.
- “Make sure you have an adequate number of trained first-aiders, with appropriate on-site equipment, who will deal with minor injuries and contain major injuries until experts arrive,” recommends a London-based risk manager.
- Manage by walking around. Senior managers should spend time with front-line supervisors and employees to better understand the challenges they face.
- Forget the studies that say money does not motivate employees. Most experts believe that most people are motivated by money, so make employees’ salary increases and bonuses dependent on their level of participation and cooperation with company risk management objectives. In other words, tie salary increases to safety policy adherence.
- Zero loss tolerance, several loss control experts, is the goal. But is this achievable? Perhaps organizational policy should state senior management has a zero tolerance for loss, because in the real world, losses occur. Therefore, there should be strong, clear consequences built into the human resources system to penalize injuries and accidents.
The march toward safety, as premiums increase and the workforce ages, will continue. One thing is clear — the better your organization formulates, disseminates and demonstrates its commitment to safety, the better your chances to prevent losses.