Planning for your best year ever in 2022? Be sure your plans include a robust workplace safety program. With the current labor and supply shortages and the pandemic, normal working conditions may be even more stressful and demanding for your team. Furthermore, it may be increasingly difficult for your supervisors to find replacement workers for anyone who is out on temporary disability. With these conditions, it’s easy to see why you must keep your team members safe and productive by cultivating a strong safety culture throughout the year.
The Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
The National Safety Council has identified three leading causes of work-related injuries. The first is overexertion and bodily reactions, which can include things like lifting injuries, as well as repetitive injuries that result in stress or strain. The second is slips, trips and falls. The third is contact with objects and equipment, for example, when a worker bumps into an object or when an object strikes a worker.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there were 2.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2020. This is a noticeable decline from 2019, when there were 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries. While this appears to be good news for workplace safety, it’s important to remember that many businesses shut down temporarily amid the pandemic. Also, the National Safety Council points out that although the total number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses decreased, the number of severe cases increased, and this has been attributed to an increase in illnesses.
Another major workplace shift occurred in 2020 as many workers switched to remote work. Employees who are working from home can also experience workplace injuries. For example, they may experience carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries related to repetitive computer usage. They may also experience injuries connected to a poorly setup home office or furniture that is not ergonomic. According to SHRM, remote workers who experience work-related illness or injury generally qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. At the same time, remote work can blur the line between worktime and personal time, making it difficult to determine whether a claim is work-related.
Mental health has been another key issue, because of both pandemic-related stress and a general increase in awareness. IRMI says that mental health conditions account for one in three new disability claims in western countries, and these claims are increasing by about 10% each year.
Emphasizing Workplace Safety and Reducing Workplace Injuries
You’re busy running your business, but workplace safety deserves your attention. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Foster a workplace culture that prioritizes safety and wellbeing. Company culture can make a profound difference.
- Don’t ignore mental health issues. According to Business Insurance, experts say that claims may be prolonged when mental health issues are not addressed, resulting in higher costs.
- Train employees to work safely and prevent accidents. New hires and seasonal workers need to be thoroughly trained on safety procedures and PPE use. Veteran workers may need safety reminders, as well, especially if an incident occurs or lax safety behaviors are noted.
- Introduce wellness initiatives that target the needs of your workforce. These initiatives could focus on physical health, for example, by introducing walking meetings or making heart-healthy food available. Other initiatives could focus on mental health.
- Consider how remote work may impact workers’ compensation claims. Property Casualty 360 says that it’s important to define normal working hours and duties to determine what is and what is not work-related.
- Adopt a positive and proactive communication strategy following a workplace injury or illness. By taking time to show you care, explain the workers’ compensation process and facilitate a return-to-work program, you can help the injured worker navigate the process successfully – and that may reduce the chance of expensive litigation.
Wilson, Washburn & Forster is a boutique independent insurance agency that has been in business since 1961. We have expertise and connections in workers’ compensation insurance and workplace safety and risk management. You will find that our experience, claims handling, service, and community commitment is unrivaled.
Contact us today at 786-454-8384 for a complimentary analysis of your current insurance program by an insurance specialist in this field.