Accident Prevention in the Workplace

Learning how to quickly respond to accidents and injuries in the workplace is important, but whenever possible, it is best to learn how to prevent accidents before they ever occur. Of course, it won’t ever be possible to completely eliminate accidents, but with some effort, workplaces can dramatically reduce the number of accidents and injuries experienced in the facility. There are many benefits that can come from focusing on accident prevention.

Read what has to say about coming up with an effective accident prevention plan:

OSHA has concluded that effective written safety programs, accident prevention plans as well as management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor in reducing the extent and the severity of work-related injuries and illnesses. – Written Safety Programs

Based on this information, it is easy to see that focusing on accident prevention not only helps to keep everyone safer, but also has a variety of different benefits that will directly impact the bottom line of any facility.

Creating an Accident Prevention Plan

OSHA recommends all workplaces have an accident prevention plan created and followed at all times. In addition, these plans are required or encouraged by 34 states. Whether your facility is required to have one, or it is voluntary, creating an accident prevention plan is a great idea.

A good accident prevention plan should be very broad in nature, identifying any potential risks to the safety or health of anyone in the workplace. Some of the most common categories of risk include:

  • Physical Hazards – This could be areas where people can slip and fall, a risk of something falling off of a high shelf, or even injuries caused by machinery. Physical injuries are one of the most common results of accidents, so it is important to learn where these hazards exist.
  • Biological Hazards – Depending on the type of facility being run, there may be biological hazards that could pose a threat. Whether it is medical waste something else, understanding what biological risks exist in a facility is essential.
  • Chemical Hazards – Many facilities use chemicals for cleaning agents or to operate machines, or even for the creation of specific products. Chemicals can quickly cause severe injury or even death if not properly cared for.
  • Environmental Hazards – This could be something like risks associated with weather changes, or fire threats or any number of other problem related to the environment in or around the workplace.
  • Mental Hazards – This one is often overlooked, but keeping your employees mentally safe as well as physically safe is extremely important.

Once you’ve got an initial list of all known risks in the facility, you’ll need to start looking for ways to eliminate, or at least reduce, the dangers.

Minimizing Risks

antislip_floor_tapeMinimizing or eliminating risks can sometimes seem like an impossible task, and that is largely because it is. The goal, however, does not have to be to create a workplace that is 100% accident free. Instead, simply focus on reducing the number of accidents that occur, as well as the severity of those that do occur. Another potential problem many safety managers face is the fact that there are often so many risks in a facility that it can be overwhelming to try to fix them all.

When that is the case, it is always best to start out by focusing on two types of risks. First, find the risks that cause the most accidents, and second, find the risks that will be easiest to fix (these will often overlap). Once you’ve got a list of specific things that can cause accidents in the facility, start working on making positive changes.

Caution_Slippery_When_Wet_concrete__33687.1391627377.1000.1000For example, if you’ve found that the entrance to a facility is causing people to slip and fall if it is wet outside, you can resolve this problem by adding anti-slip floor tape.  This floor tape will help improve traction and minimize the risk of slips and falls. In addition, installing “slippery when wet” stencil floor signs (like this stencil) can help communicate the possibility of the area being wet. This is a very simple, and inexpensive fix that can prevent a lot of accidents. In most cases, facilities will be able to make a noticeable dent in the number and severity of accidents without having to invest a significant amount of time or money into the accident prevention program.

Once you’ve completed the initial phase of improvements, you can go back and look for additional risks that exist. These may be more difficult or costly to fix, but they are well worth the work. Also, if you look for creative solutions to some risks, it is possible to prevent accidents in new and innovative ways.

Seek Everyone’s Involvement

One of the best ways to quickly improve safety in a facility is to get everyone involved. While a safety manager, or department, may be essential, they should always be listening to employees throughout a facility. In many cases, employees who work directly with a potential hazard will be able to come up with solutions to the problem that someone from another area would not have considered.

This is an excellent way to prevent accidents, without incurring unnecessary costs. By getting everyone in the facility to focus on accident prevention, it is often possible to not only cut down on the risks in a facility, but also improve overall workplace morale. People like to feel involved with the workplace, and giving them the opportunity to help address workplace safety issues is often very important to employees.

This is very empowering, and lets the employees have more direct control over the work environment. Rather than just dealing with a particular risk, the employees will be able to come up with solutions, recommend them, and help with the implementation. This has been shown to be an extremely effective option when it comes to workplace accident prevention. Some workplaces have even added incentives for the employees who suggest safety improvement ideas that were implemented, with great success.

Additional Resources