According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "In its 2007 Workplace Safety Index, Liberty Mutual estimated that employers paid almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs for the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2005." (See References 1) From a cost perspective, employees and employers lose when employees suffer serious injuries and illnesses. Disabling conditions resulting from preventable injuries and their associated costs provide a great introduction to safety discussions on the job.
Case studies are one way to introduce workers to a discussion of how people can lose their future ability to work and provide for their families. Devastating injuries are often preventable. OSHA maintains a huge website of case studies that are specific to various industries. Workers should be encouraged to discuss safety in team meetings. They should also remind other workers about safety practices (as learned through case studies) when they see an employee behavior that creates the risk for injuries to self or others.
Back Lifting Safety
One of the most common types of workplace injuries is lifting improperly and injuring the back. This simple topic is perfect to introduce at a team meeting or employee training session. Since all employees may be required to lift something during their employment, beginning with back safety can provide a natural lead in to other safety topics.
Some serious injuries occur in the workplace when employees perform duties under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Educating employees about the severe injuries and deaths that have resulted from operating heavy machinery or performing other job tasks will underscore the dangers of impairment. This discussion also provides a way for managers to explain how a drug-testing program in the workplace protects everyone.
Employees play a crucial part in minimizing workplace injuries, not just by following proper safety guidelines when performing their job tasks. Encourage employees to report unsafe work practices confidentially to management or human resources. Examples of unsafe practices are employees coming to work intoxicated, and employees who avoid wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves or safety goggles. When employees do not follow safety procedures, they can endanger the safety of others in the workplace.
For companies that employ drivers, the workplace includes vehicles; thus the company must include seatbelt safety in its policies, job descriptions and safety discussions. With this attention to seatbelt safety, the employee is more likely to wear his seatbelt in non-work times.