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Prevent injuries in the workplace

When an employee or volunteer is injured in the workplace, many different people and entities are affected—the person suffering from an injury; their co-workers, who have to adapt to a greater workload while the person recovers; and the organization itself, which loses a highly trained worker.

The simple solution is to prevent the accident from happening in the first place. But many organizations take a reactive, rather than proactive, approach. That’s where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) comes in. In 2016, it updated its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Program, which acts as a how-to manual for injury prevention in the workplace.

Church Mutual has highlighted a few of OSHA’s most important guidelines:

  1. Ensure workplace safety starts from the top down. Create a written policy signed by your top leadership that describes your organization’s commitment to safety procedures and details your safety program. But don’t stop with a document. Your supervisors and managers should be following the same safety procedures you expect workers to follow.
  2. Encourage workers to report safety concerns. Your employees and volunteers are on the front lines of your organization, and they are the ones who are most likely to notice issues. Establish a process for them to report issues and include an option for them to do so anonymously. Emphasize the fact that managers will only use the information to improve their processes—not to discipline workers for their actions or inactions.
  3. Provide workers with safety information and training on safe practices. Such information includes Safety Data Sheets (SDS), results of environmental testing, chemical and equipment manufacturer safety recommendations, and workplace and incident investigation reports. Provide training on safe practices in the workplace including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment. For the training, schedule periodic “refresher” sessions for experienced workers. Even if they received training when they first started, they may have slipped away from some safety practices.
  4. Identify hazards within your workplace that could lead to injuries. Not only does this involve conducting regular inspections, but it also means investigating accidents and near misses. For example, if a staff member mentions in conversation that they caught themself before slipping and falling on the icy sidewalk outside, you should address the issue immediately by sending someone to salt the sidewalk, investigate why the sidewalk was slippery in the first place, and determine how you can make sure other staff members don’t slip in the future.

You want to show your employees and volunteers you care about them and making their safety a top priority is a good way to do that.

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