Workplace accidents are costly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites some eye-opening statistics, including the fact that falls account for nearly half of all workplace fatalities in construction, while OSHA points out that the average cost of these accidents — even when they’re not fatal — is about $106,000 per incident. Faced with unacceptable human and financial costs, the obvious solution is to create a safer workplace. That, and the accident prevention behind it, need not be intimidating or unnecessarily complex. We should know; at Safety International, we’ve made safety training and accident prevention a point of pride for many years.
Know and Follow OSHA Regulations
OSHA compliance is a bugbear for many businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, the regulations are as onerous as they are numerous, but compliance isn’t impossible. It just takes diligence and care. The regulations aren’t there merely to penalize; they exist to keep employees safer, but as a spillover effect, they also serve to limit your risk and liability. As a further benefit, proper OSHA compliance puts you on the road to ISNetWorld certification and compliance — which can make bidding and winning bigger jobs easier.
Plan and Prepare
Both OSHA compliance, and workplace safety more generally, come down to proper planning and preparation. It’s not enough to know what’s safe; you need the policies and procedures in place to ensure safe conduct.
Having drawn up a plan of action, it’s time to implement. The most important part of that implementation is proper, and ongoing, safety training. That means knowing the basics of workplace safety, but also going over the parameters of individual projects, and the jobs that bring that project through to completion. And it’s especially important if you’re not using the same gear or procedures from one job to the next, since it’s easy to get rusty on training you don’t use quite as often.
Have — and Use — the Right Equipment
PPE isn’t just a hard hat and a pair of sturdy boots. Lanyards, restraints, guard rails, respirators… depending on the nature and scope of the project, the list could be a very long one, and may encompass both active and passive safety systems. We understand that you may be working with very slim margins, but safety (and especially your workers’ PPE) is not something on which to skimp or cut corners.
Inspect Equipment Regularly
When protective gear is doing its job well, it’s going to be subject to wear and tear. It should be inspected at various stages to ensure safety. The first inspection should be when it’s first purchased. Even the best equipment can sometimes arrive with defects, after all. Employees should know signs of damaged or ineffective PPE, and should be encouraged to check their gear before and during shifts. Keep spares onhand so you have replacements if damage or defects are found.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to incentivize safety. The incorrect way is to punish misconduct. The proper way is to reward and incentivize good compliance, since it creates an environment that actively encourages and rewards conduct that saves lives and saves money. Yes, there’s a cost to give out safety bonuses, gift cards, or even comp time, but it’s a much smaller investment than what your business loses in the event of an accident.
This all underscores one simple fact: the best way to prevent accidents is by careful planning. If you’re not sure where to start with that planning, or if you’ve begun but have no idea where to go next, turn to Safety International for safety consulting and training.