How to decrease workplace incidents

The only way to decrease incidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. As the ancient proverb goes; 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

While there are many ways to be proactive, you will need to be consistent and communicate expectations clearly when implementing proactive measures. Review the following list of safety suggestions as a guide to starting your system of incident prevention.

1. Formalize safety policies and procedures. 

Create a safety handbook that lists out the steps that must take place to prevent incidents in the workplace. Include instructions for;

  1. Storing dangerous and toxic items
  2. Pre-use equipment inspections
  3. Safe work procedures
  4. Pre-work safety inspections
  5. Near-miss or close call incident reporting
  6. Schedule for regular safety briefings, toolbox talks
  7. Substance abuse program
  8. Safety performance reviews

Check out this on-demand webinar on creating a safety culture of excellence to start this process off right!

2. Make someone accountable for safety. 

Discuss the current safety policies with your safety coordinator, and work on a plan to ensure buy-in and compliance. Confirm that the safety coordinator is aware of all the responsibilities connected with safety. Let your support be known to this person and decide to discuss concerns and solutions to further incident prevention monthly.

3. Communicate expectations for a safe work environment. 

Let staff know regularly that safety is a significant concern. Do this verbally but reiterate expectations in a documented form. Post this safety information throughout your workplace.

Words are one thing, actions speak louder. If a safety hazard is encountered, move quickly to remedy it. Waiting too long only increased the chance of an incident. It won't correct itself and don't assume that someone else will correct it.

Ask employees for suggestions about improving workplace safety. One safety coordinator is surely helpful, but a handful of lookouts is always preferable. Collect anonymous input from employees which they can fill out at their discretion.

4. Regularly inspect your facility with your safety coordinator. 

Make sure that your team is following safety policies at work. Check areas that are of concern to observe safety guidelines being met. If you observe something non-compliance, document it and bring it up with the safety coordinator as soon as possible. Plan a meeting with all the staff to communicate the concern further and ensure that it does not happen again.

5. Provide the right tools so there is no need to improvise. 

Asking employees to improvise shows that your actions don't match your words and signals that you don't take safety seriously.

For example, if you use a storage area with high shelving, supply a safe ladder or step-stool so that staff are not forced to climb on boxes to retrieve items.

6. Schedule reviews of all risky scenarios.

Scenario reviews should involve examples using mechanical equipment and tools if available. The type of exercise will depend on the kind of operation. Some operations such as restaurants and warehouse facilities will have different scenarios than construction.

Schedule these reviews in new employee orientation and revisit them regularly. Workers will be reassured knowing that the company takes their health and safety seriously.

7. Monitor these eight metrics

What kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

Here are eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

  1. Toolbox talks frequency
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Safety Program Performance Reviews
  4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity
  5. Employee Training
  6. Non-compliant PPE Use
  7. Incidents and Near Misses
  8. Safety Program Goal Setting

See this article for more details on each of these safety metrics. 

Specific Policies

1. Be prepared if there's a fire in your workplace. 

Fires can be devastating events, putting many companies in jeopardy. Assure that your workplace is adequately protected against the possibility of fire to cut down on incidents: Make sure smoke detectors are installed and have batteries.

  • Make sure that fire extinguishers are present, adequately charged, and recently inspected. If needed, ask your fire department to train you on how to inspect and use a fire extinguisher properly. Read this post for some tips.
  • Plan and post your escape routes. Know where the nearest exits are and how people can access them posthaste.

 

2. Invest in first-aid training and a first aid kit. 

First-aid training won't reduce incidents from happening, however, it would help reduce the severity of any injuries that happen during an incident.

Invest in first-aid kits for each space of your workplace. Place it in an easily accessible location that all of your workers can see.

3. Investigate each incident after it occurs. 

If an incident occurs in your workplace, write up an incident report. Investigate what happened and document the following:

  • the names and positions of the people involved
  • the names of any witnesses
  • the exact location or address of the incident
  • the exact time and date of the occurrence
  • a detailed and precise description of what exactly happened
  • a description of the injuries

 

An incident investigation must be comprehensive and include all information making it crucial to start writing the report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to document the details of the incident accurately. It's best to do the write-up when everyone's memory of the incident is still fresh.

Here is a post with seven essential elements of an incident report.

4. Workplace entrances and exits are fully operational and easily accessible. 

If your employees need to promptly get out of the building, make sure that there aren't objects blocking their exits. Sometimes in emergencies, everyone needs to evacuate as fast as possible. The site should be well-mapped, and evacuation routes clearly defined. As with any home, business, or organization, there needs to be;

  • A procedure for evacuating 
  • A location for where to meet 
  • A person who is responsible for ensuring everyone arrived.

 

These need to be known to all employees and reviewed regularly.

5. Mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. 

If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a railing piece, inform your employees and place an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don't assume that people will act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.

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Each incident is different, and there are too many variables to account for every possibility. A reliable and up-to-date safety process tailored to your workplace will be crucial.

While you can't think of everything, you can cover a lot. Talk to one of our experts on how you can quickly get your safety program running and complaint to COR or OSHA in just days.